Ian Allen's silent, tongue-in-cheek B&W remake of a 1922 anti-Mormon exploitation film of the same title (often called the REEFER MADNESS of Mormonsploitation) was produced by the lewd, rude, Washington D.C.-based theater troupe Cherry Red and is aimed at a select audience. If you're a member, you'll need little convincing to sample this perverse oddity....read more
Ian Allen's silent, tongue-in-cheek B&W remake of a 1922 anti-Mormon exploitation film of the same title (often called the REEFER MADNESS of Mormonsploitation) was produced by the lewd, rude, Washington D.C.-based theater troupe Cherry Red and is aimed at a select audience. If you're a member, you'll need little convincing to sample this perverse oddity. Pretty, sheltered Nora (Emily Riehl-Bedford) lives with her parents (Catherine Aselford, Tony Greenberg) and is engaged to Jim (Brent Lowder), a sailor who's often away. Though Nora's loved ones are all vehemently anti-Mormon, she falls under the spell of sinister LDS preacher Isoldi Keane (the marvelously named drag king Johnny Kat), who persuades her to bring her girlfriends from work to hear him speak. They too are won over by Keane's piercing gaze and promises of salvation. Keane asks Nora to be his bride, and knowing that her parents would never allow such a thing, Nora falls in with his plans to deceive them: Keane's sister, Sadie (Monique LaForce), poses as a woman of means who needs a companion to accompany her to the Netherlands. Knowing that the Dutch have no patience for Mormons, Nora's parents agree — but Nora and Sadie instead go to London, where Keane puts the women up in a Mormon-owned hotel and takes Nora to a decadent jazz club. But even after a well-intentioned stranger surreptitiously warns Nora about the Mormons' history of exploiting young women like herself, she can't imagine the depths of depravity to which she is about to be exposed. Allen's hipster tribute to intolerance past largely rejects the camp excesses of, say, Reefer Madness: The Musical (2005) in favor of playing it (almost) straight. But casting male impersonator Kat as Isoldi Keane has the curious effect of throwing into doubt the gender of almost everyone else in the cast. This persistent uncertainty lends an off-kilter air to an otherwise faithful re-creation of the look and feel of silent-era filmmaking, while also paving the way for Allen's more outrageous embellishments on conventional anti-Mormon slanders. The product of this ingenuity is a slight spin on an obscure motion-picture artifact, but it's surprisingly artfully done.
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