How Insane is the Pro-Life Horror Flick The Life Zone? Let Us Count the Ways
Regardless of where you fall on the ideological spectrum regarding abortion, you'll likely find something cringeworthy in The Life Zone. Written and produced by former New Jersey judge/current State Senate hopeful (and, according to Zone's trailer, "Best-selling Author)" Kenneth Del Vecchio, the film premiered over the weekend at the Hoboken International Film Festival (which Del Vecchio, uh, founded) and is making the rounds as a trailblazing example of pro-life cinema -- and not necessarily in a good way. Movieline has yet to check the film out but has inventoried all of the peripheral jaw-droppery in the news:
1. First, the trailer, which lays out the plot and characters but, on its own, leaves some ambiguity as to Life Zone's true philosophy:
2. And as you've seen, there's that ensemble, perhaps most succinctly and elegantly cataloged by NextMovie's Jenni Miller: "The cast is quite a humdinger, with Robert Loggia as the priestly creeper, Blanche Baker, who scared the poo out of viewers as the suburban housewife turned torturer in The Girl Next Door, and former Playboy Playmate Angela Little as one of the pregnant women."
3. And let's not forget co-star Lindsay Haun, an occasional True Blood guest who explained to a reporter after the premiere, "The woman who is completely pro-life and who never changes her opinion, and the woman who is pro-choice and never considers the other side, they're so pig-headed in their own views and not willing to debate, so they face the consequences." So it's about compromise and discussion, right? Except...
4. ...There's this, from the same Jersey Journal reporter who attended the screening:
The pregnant women are often tortured by dreams of death and despair -- montages of swarming bees, swirling tornadoes and speeches by Hitler one night, African-Americans and foreigners shouting "abort me" in foreign tongues the next -- while Dr. Wise experiences flashbacks to the dissolution of her marriage which fell apart when she learned she couldn't bear children. Her parents cursed her for not taking better care of her body, a poor diet, too much work, while her husband -- The Karate Kid's bad sensei Martin Kove -- divorces her, leaving her for a woman capable of having his children, a moment that pushes Dr. Wise to desperate measures.
5. And then there's the big "twist ending," which couldn't be more on-the-nose if it were a Breath Right strip:
All three women deliver and finally the first of the plot's twists are revealed. Staci, most opposed to pregnancy, is blessed with two children - twins - while her fellow captives only give birth to one baby each.
Later, Staci wakes up. The two new mothers are no longer captives, they've presumably ascended to heaven with their babies. It's revealed all along the women had been in Purgatory, after having died on the operating table of abortion clinics. But because Staci attempted to miscarry even after a second chance at motherhood, and because she never accepted the error of her ways until she experienced the physical joy of giving birth, of seeing her children for the first time, she will be doomed to eternity in Hell.
Loggia is Satan and he informs Staci she will spend all eternity in a cycle of pregnancy and childbirth and Dr. Wise will forever be her doctor, as the movie's final twist plays out: Wise too will spend eternity in Hell. She was so weak she committed suicide when her marriage collapsed and must suffer the fate of forever bringing life into the world, endlessly having to appreciate what she did not value on Earth.
I've got two words for that: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ???????????????
6. Del Vecchio is not a stranger to controversy! He resigned as a judge in New Jersey -- after only four months on the job -- because of politically incendiary fare like O.B.A.M. Nude, featuring Del Vecchio himself as a coke-snorting college kid who makes a deal with the devil, attends Harvard Law School, becomes a community organizer and becomes U.S. president. ("Satan tutors him on political points, so he can trick the masses by a mantra of hope and change," he explained last year to TPM.) Of his new film's title, Del Vecchio said: "It's like the Twilight Zone. Life, like pro-life; zone, like the Twilight Zone. [...] I think the audience will walk away not knowing what the filmmaker's position is, it gives both sides of the coin."
Well, kind of: Though The Life Zone is officially directed by O.B.A.M. Nude helmer Rod Weber, writer-producer Del Vecchio's Senate campaign Web site, meanwhile, states his belief that abortion amounts to "mass murders of human lives every day."
7. Following the premiere, the "pro-life" Loggia was reportedly surprised to hear he is in a Del Vecchio campaign commercial, which he definitely is:
8. The great, 88-year-old Charles Durning is apparently in this! Not only that, but he is something of a Del Vecchio stock player, having previously appeared in The Great Fight ("Del Vecchio examines autism with an Oscar-class cast," reads the blurb on the candidate's site) and An Affirmative Act ("Del Vecchio's acclaimed first-ever gay marriage courtroom drama").
9. IMDB lists the film's budget as "$1,500,000 (estimated)". You be the judge (no pun intended).