DEAD DICKS - "I Came For the "Dicks", But I Stayed For the Vagina"

There comes a time in everyone’s life when a drastic change must be made, hopefully for the better. For some it’s quitting a job, ending a troublesome relationship or returning to school. For Richie, the protagonist of the new Chris Bavota, Lee Paula Springer film “Dead Dicks”, this means suicide, but that’s just the beginning.

“Dead Dicks” chronicles the rocky relationship between Richie, a chronically depressed and suicidal 30-something year old artist, and Becca, his younger medical student sister who has spent the past few years juggling work, school and keeping Richie alive.

Recently Becca, Jillian Harris, has been offered a wonderful new career in the field of neuroscience (Something that should be, but is never later addressed), but is afraid to share the good news with Richie, Heston Horwin. With this new opportunity comes a cross-country move and Becca is worried how Richie will take the news, and if he can survive without her.

When she arrives at his apartment, she makes a horrific discovery. Richie is dead. He suffocated himself… and then electrocuted himself… and then hung himself, and finally poisoned himself. Each time being completely reborn via an unexplainable Cronenbergian vagina growing on a wall in his apartment. According to Richie, this is something that he intends to mention to his landlord. Though I’ve never heard of anyone violating a rental agreement because of “vagina”. I guess there’s a first for everything.

With every death, Richie reemerges a carbon copy of his previous self. Each time he hopes that he will somehow leave part of himself behind. That self-destructive part that prevents him from living a normal productive, and fruitful life. But every time, those same dark feelings creep back and Richie kills himself again.

Before long, Richie and Becca discover that he is only able to return intact, relatively speaking, because his brain was never damaged during his previous suicides. Although, the human brain isn’t impervious to oxygen deprivation and electrocution, but I’ll play along for the purpose of seeing how this whole thing ends.

And when it does end, it goes out with a bang. Richie admits that his depression has made him a burden to his loving sister for far too long and sets Becca free to live a happy life without him He eats a bullet, destroying his brain - preventing himself from being born yet again.

The films ends with Becca coping with the death of her brother while trying to wrap her mind around the events that transpired.

“Dead Dicks” is less about how the beginning ends, and more about what we learn getting there. “Dead Dicks” focuses squarely on the inescapable and overwhelming effect that depression holds on people. They carry it with them everywhere they go and it keeps them from being their best self. It’s an important topic to address, and “Dead Dicks” does it in strange and unsettling style, and I commend the film for that. But I also feel that the emotional weight of the subject matter left the film very stop and go.

Much of the film is serious with attempts at levity, but the humor never really reaches far enough to get a chuckle. For example, when Richie and Becca realize that they need to dispose of all the Dicks (Richie, short for Richard, often abbreviated as Dick and now we’ve come full circle). The shier absurd nature of this situation is grim, surely, but also lends itself to humor but none of it ever really lands with a laugh like it should.

On the other side of that coin is the more serious stuff. The strange science fiction (If you can call it science fiction. More like, weird biological fantasy fiction) of Richie’s rebirths is curious and genuinely drew me in – causing me ask How? and Why?. But more often than not this was interrupted by the drama, with Richie difficult and helpless, and Becca struggling to maintain control of the situation.

In other words, the fiction should captivate, and provoke thought while the subtext addresses depression and self-harm. But instead the tension of their relationship steps all over the strange fiction. Like if “RoboCop” was told from the prospective of the poor citizens of Delta City rather than RoboCop himself.

Over all, I enjoyed “Dead Dicks”. You could say that I came for the “Dicks”, but I stayed for the vagina (There’s a dirty joke in there somewhere, I'm sure of it.). It’s bizarre, it’s fun, and most importantly it’s honest. It isn’t perfect, but it’s sure worth checking out, and when you do, be on the look out for some subtle Cronenberg references. “Dead Dicks” is currently available via VOD and DVD – made available by the fine people of Artsploitation Films.

The final actions of Richie are a lesson NOT to be handed down to the young or easily influenced who may be going through hard times. If you are suffering from depression, have cut or thoughts of suicide, each out to your friends and family for help. If they aren’t available, call 1-800-273-8255 (Suicide Prevention Lifeline).


★ ★ ★

"After Becca receives a distressing call from her suicidal brother Richie, she rushes over to his apartment and finds him alive and well - surrounded by copies of his own dead body."