What’s better than an all-girl punk band becoming kick ass gladiators and spilling a whole lot of blood? An all-girl punk band becoming kick ass gladiators and spilling a whole lot of blood…with axe hands!...
...Okay, so the concept is actually pretty ridiculous, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and Spare Parts is a film that aims to please a very specific fanbase.
Directed by Andrew Thomas Hunt and written by David Murdoch and Svet Rouskov (The Colony), Spare Parts follows Emma (Emily Alatalo), Amy (Michelle Argyris), Cassy (Kiriana Stanton) and Jill (Chelsea Muirhead), members of the band Ms. 45, in the middle of touring dive bars and kicking the butt of any drunk who dares try to get handsy with them. After an accident leaves them stranded, they’re taken to a junkyard to fix their van, where they find themselves drugged, chopped up, and Dr. Frankensteined into having weaponized body parts so that they can battle in an arena as sacrifices for an ancient god.
If that sounds dumb, it is. But that’s kind of the point. Spare Parts is the sort of sexy, neon-infused, senselessly violent grindhouse love letter that delivers on exactly what it promises. No more, no less.
Spare Parts is a film with attitude. Opening on Ms. 45 playing a seedy bar inhabited by nothing but a bunch of horny dudes, the badass band shows off just how tough they are, taking on the entire bar after one guy tries to grope Amy, resulting in a beat down by the girls in which no pair of testicles is spared. This is the entire movie in a nutshell: Hot girls in skimpy outfits kicking ass, taking names, and doing it all to a grungy score from Wade MacNeil and Andrew Gordon Macpherson. In this sense, Spare Parts is like a mosh-pit equivalent of a horror film that may leave you sweaty, bruised, and maybe even a little aroused. It’s a good time, but it’s not even trying to climb over the low bar it sets for itself.
The fight in the girls happens to catch the eye of Sam (Jason Rouse), who decides he must bring these “warriors” to The Emperor (Julian Richings), a Jim Jones Kool-aid type who has convinced an entire cult of junkyard dwellers that they must have gladiator fights to appease the gods so that their crops will grow…in their junkyard. And for some reason, these warriors must have their arms replaced with tools, instead of, oh, I don’t know, being given weapons. The premise is utterly absurd. But then, we live in a world where QAnon nuts think we’re being run by a race of lizard people, so maybe it’s not that out there.
All four girls are magnetic in their roles and bring a ton of vicious, screaming energy to the chaos that ensues, but none have much to work with in terms of character. Cassy and Jill are pretty much reduced to being defined as a couple, while Amy is your tropey, sex hungry fiend in constant need of attention. Emma initially stands out as the rage-aholic, sort of odd woman out with something to prove, but she and Amy’s “jealous sisters who hate each other” plotline turns real exhausting real quick.
Once the girls are captured and begin training with Driller (Ryan Alleb), Spare Parts becomes Gladiator meets punk rock, but without the empathetic story, which makes it difficult to really root for anyone, since the girls and especially Emma seem to just give up the fight, accept where they are and even like it a little. A far cry from the independent badasses who refused to be talked down to by a man that they start off as.
But, like I said, this film isn’t about the depth of the characters, it’s about the depth of a chainsaw in some asshole’s face, and Spare Parts is at its absolute best when the gore rains. Hunt knows exactly what his audience wants, and delivers all sorts of head-smashing, face-ripping, gut-pulling bloodshed, all of it done with some pretty glorious practical FX. Production designer Vincent Moskowec does a brilliant job in bringing the grimy arena to life, soaking the junkyard arena in bright neon and emphasizing the “show” of it all. Watching Spare Parts is like being transported to a smoke-filled burlesque bar where the clientele is rough and the dancers are rougher. The fights themselves do leave a lot to be desired in terms of variety, and is sorely lacking any sort of villainous, memorable “champions” for the girls to go up against. If there was ever a perfect chance to recreate the sort of nemesis seen in the likes of The Running Man, this is it, and Spare Parts blows past that opportunity entirely.
Julian Richings is great as the emperor, but neither he nor Sam cut it as antagonists who pose any sort of threat to the girls, all of whom apparently have picked up some extraordinary fighting skills during their time on the road.
If you’re looking for some brainless violence in which scantily clad women smash some actual brains, then you could do worse than Spare Parts. The gore is great. The actors are lively. And the makeup and costume design for these girls is on point. The premise is ridiculous and it’s damn near impossible to take anyone in the film seriously, but Spare Parts is a flick that oozes an infectious attitude that just barely covers up its many battle wounds for an overall entertaining adrenaline boost.
Spare Parts comes to VOD, Digital and Blu-ray/DVD on June 1st from RLJE Films.
By Matt Konopka