The primary linking element between these two movies should be instantly apparent, but it turns out that they have more in common than the titular professions involved...
Dead Hooker in a Trunk - 2009
Written & Directed by Jen & Sylvia Soska
After the brilliance of the Soska sisters' American Mary and the crime against humanity that was See No Evil 2, I wanted to check out their ultra-low budget debut to see if I could figure out more of the equation.
While it's classified as "Horror" on IMDb, it struck me as much more of a dark comedy crime thriller, but that's essentially semantic. Rather than making their movie despite a $2500 budget, they embraced the low budget, squeezing every penny out of it, and more. Dead Hooker in a Trunk is all about DIY, both as an aesthetic and a value. It is exactly the punk rock exploitation flick that it set out to be.
The ordinary logic of human behavior does not apply in this film. Badass refuses to go to the police because, frankly, she and Junkie can't remember much of the night before. Even less logically, everyone else goes along with this, albeit some more begrudgingly than others. What follows is a spastic black comedy of (t)errors.
I cannot in good conscience recommend Dead Hooker in a Trunk in a general sort of way, but I liked it for what it was. This is very definitely niche viewing for fans of exploitation film. It's a bleakly funny, no-budget wail of pure street fighting adrenaline. Like a first live gig for a punk rock garage band, they probably could play it again the same way if they wanted to, but they played even the flat notes with total commitment.
Despite my disappointment with See No Evil 2 (if a dry-heaving sense of loathing can be classified as "disappointment"), DHIAT gives me hope that they will indeed redeem themselves one day. It really highlights the importance of them writing their own material. No amount of glitter could gild the turd that was the SNE2 script, and no absence of budget could still the primal scream that was Dead Hooker in a Trunk.
Call Girl of Cthulhu - 2014
Written by Jimmy George & Chris LaMartina
Directed by Chris LaMartina
If Dead Hooker in a Trunk was a no-budget homage to the grindhouse cinema of the 70s, then Call Girl of Cthulhu is a low-budget homage to the splatter features of the mid-80s that you'd never really hear about until you saw them at the VHS rental. If you want to be negative about it, you could say that it's crude and gruesome, but if you want to have fun, you could say that it's hilarious and raunchy with a bounty of the things that you rented videos (or stayed up late watching cable) for in the 80s.
Meanwhile that same meanwhile, a small group is working to prevent the cult from getting exactly what they want, and they steal the sacred Necronomicon from the cultists. Seeing Carter's work in the weekly indy paper, they go to him to copy the book so they can give a powerless decoy back to the cultists.
Of course the big climax involves the birth of Cthulhu and the opening of a portal to wherever it is that portals open to in Lovecraft's world; Tentacle City, evidently. It's gory and hideous and triumphant and doomed and NEVER NOT FUN. Except for the one part that's a total bummer, but that's kind of what you sign up for with Lovecraft.
Between these two prostitute-themed low-budget throwbacks, I definitely preferred Call Girl of Cthulhu. It's still a case of taste whether this is something you can be open to enjoying, but buy-in is much lower and the reward much higher for the willing viewer. Unlike poor Riley, it delivers something you won't want to kill as soon as it wriggles free.