“The two most infamous mass murderers battle for the top spot.”
Of course, Dahmer and Gacy were not mass murderers; rather they were serial killers by definition. But you get the idea. So I’m predisposed to forgive the tag line for that small error. What is less easy to forgive is the fact that the title itself is misleading as hell. There is a very weak encounter between these two guys, but it is not the ultimate monster smash-up this kind of title traditionally represents.
The idea of the military trying to create a super-soldier isn’t a new one. You’ve seen it on The Hulk and The X-Files has made a whole mythology out of the idea. Usually the point is to add something to the mundane human soldier, an ability or power that makes them stronger and harder to kill. Enter the top secret government Project X13. Here the plan isn’t to add something most soldiers don’t have, but rather to remove something most soldiers do already have. It’s that pesky inconvenient conscience that gets in the way of mercilessness toward the enemy. So how do you remove the moral impediments? You build a new soldier from the DNA up. You use the genetic material from the world’s most infamous serial killers and mass murders. The result is a soldier that not only doesn’t mind killing, but relishes in the act. It’s the idea behind Dr. Stravinsky’s (Zhmutski) work at the secret military lab. General Arbogast (Aarons) thinks it’s a bad idea, but she’s over-ruled. It’s all coming along fine until a fire breaks out and two of the clones break out of the secure facility: Jeffrey Dahmer (Austin) and John Wayne Gacy (Malone).
The hunt is on to capture or kill these guys before they can rack up too high a body count. The General has her people working on the problem, but they won’t be alone. The Japanese government has sent super-ninjas to capture the clones so that they can steal the technology. Then there’s crazy red-neck Ringo (also Austin) who hears the voice of God (Williams) on various home appliances. God wants Ringo to track down the killers and is guiding the mercenary without a clue toward his destiny. In the meantime, the two killers are doing what they do best while a local news program chronicles the serial killer frenzy the carnage has wrought, including hot chicks in I Love Serial Killers cut-offs. The news interludes are actually the most entertaining part of the film.
In 1995 NASA sent the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit with the promise of seeing farther into the frontier of space than ever before. We were promised glorious images and new discoveries on a daily basis. After spending billions of dollars, the telescope made it into orbit. But those pictures didn’t come. It seems that a warped giant mirror made it so the giant telescope couldn’t focus. Now, I don’t know if it’s a warped mirror surface or just a very short attention span, but that’s the very serious problem with Dahmer vs. Gacy. There is a real problem with the focus. There appears to be no point to any of this. It goes nowhere, and very slowly.
Now, I can deal with the low budget and terrible acting. It comes standard with your B movie release. The truth is that writer/producer/actor Ford Austin actually does a good job with his limited resources. The camera work is better than average, and he does a pretty good acting job on the dual roles of Ringo and Dahmer. The production values aren’t bad at all. They never get in the way of the enjoyment here. The idea is quite clever, and I was prepared for a nice monster mash-up style film. I never got it.
First of all, someone couldn’t make up their mind what kind of movie they were making. It is obvious that there are some hard shots at comedy, but they fall totally flat each time. I know they all had their tongues firmly planted in cheek, but it’s not that easy to tell. The jokes are either really lame or too obvious. Signs in the lab remind us that a healthy clone is a happy clone. I have no doubt the cast and crew were laughing their butts off, but that’s the problem. Austin never takes the time to make us feel like we’re in on the joke. He gives us the setup and then seems to have forgotten all about us completely.
Then there’s the final confrontation between the two killers. The title prepares us for some sweet mixing up here between them. After a few minutes of the worst film fight I have ever seen, it’s all over and the introduction of another crazy killer played by the most notable name here, Ethan Phillips, is as anti-climactic as they come. I used to love Phillips. Who doesn’t love Neelix? I gotta re-think that after watching this performance. Then they commit the worst cardinal sin of a B movie. Two characters chat about what would happen if they made a movie about these events. The characters concluded it would suck. At least they got that right.
Dahmer vs. Gacy is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The movie actually looks pretty good. Production values are quite good for the budget. Colors are crisp, and the film often has a very natural look to it. It shows that Austin does have some concept of what he’s doing. I just don’t know what he was thinking.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is a bit minimalistic. There’s some source noise that, again, can be expected in budget films. The score is a bit annoying, made up of mostly “nuff Said” tracks. The dialog works for the most part, depending on each actor’s projection. There is a 5.1 and a 2.0 option, but my disc would not allow me to access the 5.1. There’s a work-around, however. Just start the film in 2.0 and then switch it with your player after the film starts.
I know how this all must have started. We did it ourselves when we were younger. You remember those conversations about which hero could kick the other hero’s butt. We used to speculate things like what if the Enterprise met up with the Galactica? Comics have been made where universes are joined like Star Trek meets Planet Of The Apes. It’s all a natural reaction to wanting to see your favorite stuff interact. I’m sure Austin and the writers met up one night while drinking more than a few and started throwing out all kinds of scenarios about this idea. They were probably funny as hell with the beer goggles on. But, someone should have sobered up and taken a closer look at those ideas and re-written them first. The whole movie smells of a drunken conversation that always starts with…”Wouldn’t it be cool if…”. “All of the evidence does tend to point in that direction.”