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No Surprises Under This Skirt

By Brian Prisco | Film | October 28, 2010 |

By Brian Prisco | Film | October 28, 2010 |

It’s pretty much as advertised. Done up like a 70s grindhouse exploitation film, Israel Luna’s Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives is about … a bunch of ticked-off trannies with knives. You can literally see the glistening leer of Quentin Tarantino’s influence all over this flick: from the opening sequences of trash-talk that have little impact on the action of the plot to the over-the-top gore to the insistence on adding the film burns and “reel missing” clips. If you’re looking for a sensitive portrayal of the LGBT community, you best look to Felicity Huffman. Trannies is chock full of slurs — both racial and gender-bending — and some of the fiercest transsexuals you will ever see on celluloid. These bitches know how to throw down — a bevy of busty exotic dancers who love their liquor as much as laying down the hurt on the greaseballs who try to rough them up. Luna relies a little too much on the 70s kitsch, however. If he just made a straight film (hur, hur), instead of worrying about the whole exploitation mock-up, it wouldn’t feel like a bad grindhouse knockoff. Despite a really tweaked out and gruesome ending, it’s so campy you’ll want to roast s’mores. It’s a cheesy good time, with some excellently outrageous performances, but it relies a little too heavily on the makeup to be a perfect smash. Still, with a little booze and some rowdy friends, this would make for a hell of a good night.

Ticked-Off Trannies is what you’d expect from a grindhouse redux. You’ve got a gaggle of sassy shemales with names like Emma Grashun, Rachel Slurr, Tipper Summore, Bubbles Cliquot, and of course, Pinky, who honestly feels like Divine and Mo’Nique gave birth to fabulous. The supporting cast has equally ridiculous names: Dr. Phil Lacio, Nurse Connie Lingus, and Helluva Bottom-Carter. Again, this is not something to be taken seriously, and it opens with the girls essentially just riffing on each other like a coupla right catty bitches. Cheesy-one liners are being slung like untucked parts in a locker room, and it’s pretty glorious.

Which is why the actual violence of the plot — apropos to the spirit of the B-movie — is pretty heinous. Bubbles got raped by her abusive redneck boyfriend Boner. He later gathers a couple of Mexicans (so trannies aren’t the only stereotype to receive the rough reacharound) to whale on the gals. There’s a lot of bats and knives soaked in matted hair and blood, people getting busted up with corny kung-fu, and really out of sequence fights. You’re never really sure who’s dead and who was just apparently injured from reel to reel, because people arbitrarily survive. At heart, it’s a typical revenge flick like Ms. 45 or Last House on the Left, with these brawny broads doling out the destruction. And it’s just as crazy-sexy-cool as you would expect, with some high-heel hurtin’ and a couple of kukri through the cranium.

My biggest complaint, aside from the overusage of the “reel missing” gags and forcing the whole burnt/repaired filmstock tropes on us, is that by the end of the film, the trannies are no better than the rednecks who abuse them. They’re all kind of despicably vicious and savage maniacs. But, ultimately, that’s what I like about the film. These are chicks with dicks, and they won’t let you forget either part of that equation. It doesn’t try to pass on a message of tolerance, they just get all up in your face, and you have no choice but to deal or walk away. And, by God, these are some of the hottest transsexuals you are going to see on screen, including one of the most famous transgendered actor/actress of his time, Willam Belli.

You can tell that Israel Luna and his crew had a hell of a good time making this film. That’s the ultimate idea behind Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives. It’s not meant to be taken seriously; it’s supposed to be a wild good time. Which is why I wish Luna laid off the fucking grindhouse homages and just stuck with the cutting quips and hacking he-shes, but que sera, sera. It’s something to be viewed intoxicated and with a large group of people, not silently appreciated in a quiet arthouse cineplex. Just like you shouldn’t crack open a vintage Cabernet Sauvignon with your Five Guys Burger, you don’t drink PBR with a $50 porterhouse. While I honestly don’t expect Ticked-Off Trannies to pop up on any of the Oscar contention lists, it’s a good time to be indoors on a cold night of raunchy ridiculousness.