Shot like a 1970s grindhouse flick complete with jump cuts, appalling dialogue and horrendous scenes of gratuitous violence, James Bickert’s biker horror Dear God No! (2011) is a rampant, filthy and debauched watch that will test all but the most hardened of exploitation aficionados. Banned in 19 countries, the film follows the brutal path of destruction laid down by an outlaw motorcycle gang – The Impalers – as they rape and pillage their way en route to the home of an anthropologist with a big secret. A vile and horrific home invasion ensues that reveals an underhand story of incestual lust, genetic manipulation and bizarre Nazi adoration.
To say Bickert’s film is not for the feint of heart is an understatement and somewhat a clichéd adage to apply to a review of it, but from the outset, Dear God No! has potential to deeply offend, and as with most classic grindhouse, that is the reason for the polarising responses it has and will continue to receive from audiences, and in turn the reason why, like many other classic grindhouse flicks – Russ Meyer’s Lorna (1964) or Lewis H. Gordon’s Scum of the Earth (1963) – it has the potential to live on for so long as a reference and talking point for critics, enthusiasts and those with extremist views for and against its content for as long as film continues to play a big part in our society.
Visually and stylistically it would be unfair to slam the movie as being poorly edited and rife with weak dialogue, bad humour and distasteful content because that is the film’s sole goal. The style that the film attempts to recreate is the very same in appearance and tone adopted by none other than Quentin Tarantino in 2007’s Death Proof, for example. The difference here though is that Bickert’s film is shoehorning in every kind of exploitation possible with his demolition of the female form, and the carnage of religious figures and other authoritative figures in today’s society.
Featuring nuns, Nazi’s, bikers and Bigfoot – along with a whole bucketful of bloodshed and murder – Dear God No! absolutely achieves its goal of recreating what its director refers to as a “homage to 1970s drive-in and grindhouse theatre trailers”, but it is testing at times, with some moments genuinely quite harrowing to watch. Nonetheless, the film will appeal to an audience that adore the authenticity of this genre, far more than mainstream reimaginings by the likes of Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.
Whilst Dear God No! appears to achieve its goal, some of the fun its director points to as the reason he loves this type of movie is missing, and the balance between that, a plot and the graphic, violent and sometimes downright unbearable viewing is just not there, leaving his film open to criticism that suggests his movie is nothing more than an abomination of women, devoid of any real plot. However, only a true grindhouse fanatic will be able to tell whether the film really stands up to the most applauded films of that genre.