Dir: Bitte Andersson. Sweden. 2014. 94mins
When everyone rejects you, there is always one alternative – to form a band and face the music with your lesbian crew, on the road in Sweden. With the palette and the cartoonish caricatures of a comic book – writer/director/producer Bitte Andersson is a comic artist – Dyke Hard is a Swedish lesbian band-on-the-run farce – in a Volvo, naturally.
Bitte Andersson bears watching. She’s remarkably versatile and shameless in much of Dyke Hard. Who knows what she might do with a real budget and real actors?
It stands to retain that cult status until the next gay Swedish rock burlesque appears, hence a long berth in festivals at midnight and plenty of LGBT theatrical events worldwide. In English, the film shouldn’t face any language barrier, although its Grand Guignol dramatic language and mock-rock internationalism seem to solve that problem.
It’s a simple story. Dyke Hard, formed as a band of outcasts, has touched bottom after a flash of success and one hit song, Payback, and now the washed-up band is deserted by Riff (Lina Kurttila), its nasty lead singer with a Courtney Love mop of hair. Riff pledges revenge, fueling a villainous sub-plot
As the group journeys across Sweden to a battle of the bands, Dyke Hard exploits every gag in the book – vain resentful bitchy lead, bartenders who long to be prison guards, absurd efforts to curse in American accents, a lesbian glory hole at a petrol station in the hinterlands, and a house haunted by Morgana, a lesbian zombie (Yiva Maria Thompson), and that’s before the last 500 kilometers of road.
After police catch the band with the body of Morgana, the group ends up in prison, on death row, the venue for a grand production number in orange jump sits – the new pink? – led by a cigar-chomping warden (Anitha Nygards) doing her twist on Helga, She–Wolf of the SS.
Hammy is the shameless acting tone here – Bitte Andersson put in her time at the camp-horror Troma Entertainment boutique. Nor is there much regard in this low-budget spoof for production value. The film’s strongest asset is its minimal concern for political correctness (until its unfortunate extended group hug of an ending), which makes for explicit sex of all kinds, nasty jokes about the death penalty and an ode to Hannibal Lector, with ABBA-style lyrics – “submission is the greatest gift, and all that, but without your domination, my submission falls down flat.”
Andersson, who designed costumes and wrote many of the film’s songs, also appears in cameos, one of which shows her head being smashed to a bloody pulp. Scenes like that, not usual in such fare, should help the farce cross over to a young VOD crowd beyond the LGBT core.
Dyke Hard wears thin as gag follows gag follows song in what can feel like a glorified costumed amateur night. Still, the element of novelty should keep audiences engaged, as they ask again and again, “is this really Sweden?”. And Bitte Andersson bears watching. She’s remarkably versatile and shameless in much of Dyke Hard. Who knows what she might do with a real budget and real actors?
Production companies, backers: Filmlance International AB, Bitte Andersson Illustration, Chimney
International sales: Outplay Films firstname.lastname@example.org
Producers: Tomas Michaelsson, Bonnie Skoog Feeney, Martin Borell, Bitte Andersson
Associate producer: Josephine Krieg
Screenplay: Bitte Andersson, Alexi Carpentieri, Martin Borell, Josephine Krieg
Cinematography: Alexi Carpentieri
Editors: Amy Pomering, Bitte Andersson, Alexi Carpentieri
Main cast: Peggy Sands, Alle Eriksson, M. Wagensjo, Lina Kurttila, Iki Gonzalez, Josephine Krieg