Bloody Knuckles Review
Bloody Knuckles is writer/director Matt O’Mahoney’s attempt at pushing buttons and straddling the line between tasteful- and tasteless-ness. It’s a film about art and the freedom of expression, the ability to write or draw what you want instead of being limited by the fear of offending someone else. Also, it’s about a dismembered hand, in much the same fashion as Idle Hands before it. O’Mahoney draws from a lot of inspirations as well as some of the demented thoughts in his own head, and his creation attempts to further free speech by showing the dangers of a world that is quick to act violently instead of rationally when offense occurs.
To do this, Bloody Knuckles follows a comic book writer named Travis (Adam Boys), who likes to push the limit with gory, sexually-charged artwork that runs the gamut from bestiality to mocking prominent public figures. At a certain point, Travis goes too far, angering the local mobster Leonard Fong (Kasey Ryne Mazak – super cool that the dude shares my name) to the point that Fong cuts off Travis’ offending hand so that he can’t draw anymore. Then, Bloody Knuckles really gets weird; the hand comes to life, begins to create some awkward moments for Travis, and eventually leads him to get his revenge on Fong and his crew.
Bloody Knuckles is all about the comedy in this horror show. Despite the film’s early exploration of Travis’ feelings of loss – the lack of a hand impedes his ability to draw – O’Mahoney finds humor in it anyway, sometimes with juvenile jokes and scatological humor and sometimes with actual physical comedy. The success of these moments depends on the viewer’s sense of humor; in this reviewer’s case, Bloody Knuckle‘s often tasteless jokes didn’t hit the funny bone. While not offensive, they’re also not as funny or crass as other films that O’Mahoney clearly takes inspiration from (think Troma).
It’s not vital for Bloody Knuckles to consistently hit its humor stride, but O’Mahoney has difficulty finding a direction for the film. A good chunk of the movie has nothing really happening; it follows Travis in his sad sack state, then his life with a sentient hand, and yet there’s very little substance to these moments. It’s only towards the end of Bloody Knuckles that the film really establishes itself, both with a ridiculous superhero known as Homo Dynamous (Dwayne Bryshun) and the amped-up gore effects.
It’s unfortunate that Bloody Knuckles gets stuck on its one-note themes about censorship, because O’Mahoney’s creativity shines when he’s not forced to adhere to this specific idea. It’s obvious that O’Mahoney has a unique mind, one that appreciates black morbid humor as a bridge between depressing topics. But Bloody Knuckles rarely succeeds in addressing this, instead continually hitting the viewer over the head with its morals – censorship is bad, it’s okay to offend, stop being so sensitive.
If one listens to the interview with O’Mahoney in the bonus feature on this disc, there’s a little more context to his intentions in Bloody Knuckles. He finds it ridiculous that some people would get so riled up about offensive imagery that they’d kill because of it, as Fong does in the film. He rejects a world where people react physically instead of with philosophical discussion. But it’s also something of a naive concept – there’s always violence in the world, a lot of it for stupid reasons. Free speech shouldn’t be limited, and offense shouldn’t cause a murderous rampage; yet it’s smart to try to distance oneself from already violent peoples such as mobsters and killers. You’re free to say what you want, but also open to the consequences. In the case of Bloody Knuckles, the consequence is that the film becomes inundated with O’Mahoney’s message instead of doing much with it, sort of like continually bashing your hand into a wall attempting to move it.
Special Features Review
Bloody Knuckles gets a really nice Blu-Ray release from Artsploitation Films with three different audio tracks! Along with that is director’s commentary. There are two short films included from O’Mahoney, as well as a three deleted scenes totaling about 4 minutes. Finally, there are four bonus featurettes: one’s an interview with O’Mahoney, one’s O’Mahoney visiting DiabolikDVD, another is O’Mahoney interviewing Lunchmeat VHS, and a a Q&A with Cinema Sewer about his work. It’s a nice set of bonuses and, for a fan of the film, it makes this disc more than worth the price.