When I told you that Bill Zebub’s thoroughly rancid Kill The Scream Queen wasn’t his worst movie, I wasn’t in the least bit joking — 2006’s Rape Is A Circle is actually a damn sight worse. How can this be, you ask? Well, as it turns out, when Zebub left things like plot, motivation, characterization, and even basic story progression out of his debut feature, he was actually doing us all a huge favor, because by the time he got around to making this cringe-worthy feature, he figured he had a pretty solid handle on all those things, so they’re all present and accounted for — and it makes everything soooooo much more painful. Plus, he throws in a massive insult to his audience’s collective intelligence for good measure (certainly no small feat given that this flick wasn’t exactly marketed to the cultural elite).
First off, as far as the bare-bones production values go, Billy had $15,000 to play around with this time, not that tripling his budget did him any good. He’s still stuck in New Jersey and he’s still hiring the kind of actresses who frankly would probably appreciate it if I didn’t mention them by name, so I won’t. Needless to say, they’re all better off back at whatever shoe store, strip joynt, fast-found counter, or unemployment line Zebub found them in. He also still displays nothing but the most rudimentary understanding of simple things like how a fucking video camera works, where to place his “actresses” in the frame, how to get competently-delivered lines out of them, etc.
The “story,” as far as it goes — two women hitch a ride with another woman, automatically assuming she’s “safe,” only to find that she’s as sadistic and brutal as any guy whose car they might have gotten into — isn’t nearly as clever as Big, Bad Bill thinks, and really is nothing but a threadbare disguise to (again, less than cleverly) obfuscate his real motive, which is, plainly and simply, to show three women verbally and physically humiliating each other (and themselves, by even being in this thing) for the better part of 75 minutes. There’s some poorly staged softcore-style sexual violence, nudity aplenty, and a smattering of thoroughly unconvincing movie-of-the-week-style sermonizing about how, ya know, “rape is a circle,” — hence the insult to our intelligence I mentioned, as if any of us are stupid enough to think that Zebub’s point is anything other than getting his rocks off by putting his unfortunate “actresses” through all kinds of lamely-executed degradation — and then we dive head-first into the thoroughly anti-climactic finale in which the intial two victims plot their revenge and become victimizers themselves (oh, the humanity!).
A lot of the so-called “unspeakable torment” these ladies are out through in this one is only hinted at rather than shown — although the dialogue is dripping with misogynistic ugliness — and that’s definitely more a product of lack of ability rather than lack of intent. Simply put, if Zebub had enough money to even unconvincingly stage some of the shit he implies these women have to go through, not to mention “talent” willing to do it, I have no doubt he would love to give it a go. But I guess he’s learned a few lessons from Kill The Scream Queen, at least when it comes to being made aware of his (rather sizable, it must be said) limitations. Thank God for small favors.
If you absolutely must be a contrary bastard, though, and sit through this wretchedness just to spite me, I again implore you to not do Zebub the favor of buying it as a stand-alone release (either in its original form or its shorter, re-worked version, titled Catherine’s Pain, which I haven’t seen and can’t fairly comment on — but I bet it sucks at least as badly) for ten or fifteen or whatever bucks — instead pick up the Tomb Of Terrors 50-movie, 12-disc set from Mill Creek’s Pendulum Pictures label for maybe $20-$25 and at least get a lost weekend’s worth of shittily-made horror flicks for your money, all with perfectly-serviceable full-frame transfers and stereo sound.
To tell you the truth, though, I’m not so sure it’s fair to refer to the pablum that Bill Zebub churns out as being horror movies, per se, even though sitting through them can be a horrific experience. He actually doesn’t even strike me as a horror fan — he is, however, a rape fan, a torture fan, a humiliation fan, and not at all a fan of women. I dunno. I guess there’s an audience for this kind of shit out there somewhere. I’m just glad I’m not a part of it.