Friday, September 23, 2016

Deafula (1975)

The low-budget horror flick Deafula is about exactly what the title suggests, and every line of dialogue is delivered by way of American Sign Language. The noble goal of providing entertainment for an underserved population notwithstanding, Deafula is an embarrassment. Peter Wolf, the picture’s writer, director, and star, evinces little talent in any of his craft areas, so the movie is amateurish, boring, and discombobulated. The gist of the piece is that Steve Adams (Wolf), a seminary student with pillowy blond hair and a fondness for turtlenecks, occasionally transforms into bloodsucker named Deafula. This often happens during the daytime, which is odd, and during the transformations, Steve’s hair changes color, he grows a gigantic prosthetic nose, and his clothes morph into a tuxedo with a cape. What’s the sign for “WTF”? According to the backstory that’s doled out in awkward flashbacks, Steve’s mom consorted with Count Dracula, but Steve grew up believing that he had a strange blood disease requiring regular transfusions instead of vampirism. While detectives investigate Deafula’s killings, Steve searches for answers about his identity, hence the flashbacks. It’s all very jumbled and silly, culminating in a ridiculous scene of Deafula chatting with Count Dracula in a cave. Peculiar stylistic choices regarding sound exacerbate Deafula’s other problems. Although voice actors provide real-time translations for the ASL dialogue, music only appears intermittently, and long stretches of the film are silent. It is an understatement to say that Wolf’s images do not command attention without aural assistance. Once in a while, Deafula is so misguided as to become compellingly awful. In one scene, Steve sits with a buddy in a bar and orders peanuts from the waitress. Later in the same scene, Steve says, “A moment ago, I ordered peanuts.” Again, WTF? In any language, Deafula is ridiculous.

Deafula: LAME

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