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Danger Diva Review

August 3, 2018 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Danger Diva
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Danger Diva Review  

Danger Diva Review

Molly Sides– Devi Danger
Tim Gouran– Stanley Arkoff
Amy Thone– Adrian Balew
Ray Tagavilla– Dr. Calvin Yamachi
Conner B. Neddersen– Scattering
(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Robert McGinley
Screenplay by Robert McGinley

Distributed by Grey Zone Media

Runtime– 100 minutes



Danger Diva, written and directed by Robert McGinley, is a weird beard sci-fi sort of musical that, at first, doesn’t seem to make all that much sense. We know who the good guys are, we know who the bad guys are, and the music on display both rocks and instills a sense of wonder in the listener, but the ultimate point of it all isn’t all that clear until well after the movie is over and you sit and think about it. Well, at least that’s what happened to me.

Danger Diva stars Molly Sides as Devi Danger, lead singer of a hard rock band that’ just on the cusp of breaking out in a big way. The band has a passionate fanbase that loves what Devi’s lyrics can do for them, but they’re all quite vocal in that they only want to hear one specific sort of thing from Devi and her band. Mainly, they want to hear badass hard rock. Devi gives it them, sure, but there are times were she would like to try something else, a situation that sends her fans into a tizzy. Devi would like to try singing in a operatic style and do something like that. She tries her opera voice out at the club performance that opens the movie. The attempted performance doesn’t go over well. Devi ends up barfing her guts out in the bathroom, her boyfriend/drummer Scattering (Conner B. Neddersen) gets his ass kicked by the club owner, Devi ends up in jail, and the band contemplates removing Devi from the group.

And that’s exactly what the band does. Now, before she’s thrown out, Devi meets with tech billionaire guru weirdo Stanley Arkoff (Tim Gouran) about a potential position with his company. Arkoff has created a super computer called Savant that somehow uses the collected brainpower of human employees to figure things out and Arkoff wants to use Devi and her voice to calm the human employees and create what amounts to a smooth operation. At first, Devi is flattered by the opportunity, as she wouldn’t mind having a steady paycheck (and Arkoff bails her out of jail, so she wouldn’t mind repaying him for that), but she doesn’t take the job because her band is about to go on tour. It’s at this point that Devi learns about her band wanting her out, and suddenly Arkoff’s proposition is the perfect opportunity. So Devi goes to work for Arkoff.

Now, Arkoff, his company, and the whole Savant thing are not exactly on the up and up. There’s something overly creepy about the whole thing, and that’s before we find out that Arkoff is dying from a malignant cancer and that he and his head company researcher, Dr. Calvin Yamachi (Ray Tagavilla), are working on a scheme to somehow cheat death via technology. And when we see what Savant actually is, Jesus Christ, Arkoff is a goddamn piece of shit. If the people they recruit knew what they would be doing, there’s no way in hell they would volunteer to do it. No goddamn way.

Devi’s experience with the company isn’t all that bad at first. Arkoff is the nicest guy in the world to her, he has state of the art equipment at his disposal that she can use to create music whenever she wants to, and her main company handler, old woman and singer Adrian Balew (Amy Thone) is actually a nice woman. Devi has been given an implant in her neck that will extend the usefulness of her voice and make it easier for her to sing for Savant and for an opera that Arkoff’s company produces to entertain rich people. The implant makes Devi feel weird all over, but she’s told over and over again that all she needs to do is relax and it will all eventually work out. The implant will help her.

The implant doesn’t help her. In fact, it makes her voice suddenly so powerful that, when agitated, she can destroy things with it. And on top of that, Devi finds out that Arkoff didn’t pick her solely for her voice; he’s attracted to her and wants to use her body to move along his big scheme to cheat death. When she finds out about Arkoff’s scheme Devi wants out. She wants the implant out, she wants out of the company, she wants things to go back to the way they used to be. Unfortunately for Devi, she quickly finds out that none of those things are possible. Arkoff’s company owns her lock, stock, and barrel, and it will do whatever it takes to make sure she remains part of the program. She tries to escape and almost succeeds (Scattering tries to help her). Almost.

The rest of Danger Diva plays out on two tracks. The first track is Arkoff trying to fulfill his big scheme as his cancer grows and grows. The second track is Devi taking her place in the company as the Danger Diva and that not working out the way it’s supposed to. The movie doesn’t really go off the rails or anything at this point, but it gets mega weird. There’s a certain plausibility to some of the technology on display, especially Arkoff’s death cheating scheme (if you’ve read any of the Takeshi Kovacs novels by Richard k. Morgan or seen the Netflix show Altered Carbon you’ll see certain similarities between the two), but the stuff with Devi and her super voice is insane. How could Arkoff and Yamachi and their technicians not know that Devi’s implant wouldn’t generate a mega voice that can destroy glass windows and wreck cars and shit?

And I’m still not clear what the hell Savant is supposed to do, either. Arkoff appears on a TV show to talk up the creation of Savant and doles out tech guru catchphrases and whatnot that sound good but are also essentially meaningless. It’s all just advertising lingo, and advertising lingo, as we all know, is just bullshit. So, again, what the hell is Savant about? I don’t get it. I do know it’s an evil system. All you need to see is what happens to the Savant recruits to come to that conclusion. How would you like to be brainwashed to the point that you only speak in computer code? Exactly. Fuck that.

The movie and story are ambitious and engrossing, even if some of it is confusing. The movie’s obvious low budget hinders some of the scope that director McGinley is clearly striving for (some of the technology scenes would work better if they were bigger, slicker, and busier, and there are elements of a kind of post-apocalyptic future that the movie doesn’t articulate well because it needs way more money to do that stuff). But the ideas regarding technology, art, and the value of the individual make the movie and story engrossing, even if, again, you’re not entirely sure what the heck is going on.

The rock music on display is badass. The band used for the movie, Thunderpussy, has a great had rock/blues sound that should make for a great soundtrack album if and when one gets released. And the “operatic” moments are pretty cool, too, even if you’re not all that into that kind of music.


And the performances are generally terrific throughout. Molly Sides is amazing as Devi Danger. She can sing, she can act, and she can destroy things with her voice. What’s not to like about all of that? She also knows how to walk down a hallway all scary and shit and covered in blood. That can’t be easy.

Tim Gouran is creepy as Stanley Arkoff, at least when he’s in sick and scheming businessman mode. When he’s all about conquering life and death he’s just the worst kind of human being in the world. When he’s vulnerable, though, Arkoff is a nice guy in a bad situation. You don’t so much like him, but you do sympathize with him a little. A little.

Ray Tagavilla is a piece of shit as Dr. Calvin Yamachi. He’s a scientist hell bent on finishing his life’s work, which would be commendable if that work wasn’t so damn exploitive and, well, awful. Tagavilla just oozes sleaze in this part and is a joy to watch, in a sick and twisted kind of way.

Amy Thone is weird as Adrian Balew because you’re not quite sure what her deal is. Is she a full on good guy or is there something else going on with her? It seems like she’s on the side of the light at the end, but at the same time I’m not entirely sure that she is. Perhaps a further exploration of her character is being saved for a sequel?

And then there’s Conner B. Neddersen as Scattering, Devi’s boyfriend. I like him, sure, but what the hell does she see in him? I’m guessing it’s a rock and roll thing because, man, it sure seems like they shouldn’t be together. I mean, that’s how I saw him. Perhaps your opinion of Scattering will be different.

Danger Diva is an ambitious, weird as hell sci-fi flick with a bit of rock and roll spirit at its core. It also seems to want to comment on what can happen if and when technology takes over everything. A definite must see for sci-fi fans and fans of bizarre cinema. Very cool through and through. I know I want to see it again.

See Danger Diva. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 5

Explosions: None.

Nudity?: None, although there are some scenes with Molly Sides where she’s wearing some skimpy underwear.

Doobage: Singing, public striptease, setting a public fire, fire extinguisher hooey, off screen barfing, a body slam, a crowd riot, serious face punching, a guy climbing up the side of a building for some reason, multiple instances of a guy sucking on an oxygen mask, jail hooey, a flashback, band practice with a different singer, recruiting, an eviction, a giant needle in the ass, bullshit about “memory transference,” opera surgery, a neck injection, impromptu mouth stuffing gag, fish saving, more singing, opera bullshit, sex, sensory deprivation hooey, two goons, a damaged ankle, Taser hooey, a ball gag, grass eating, virtual paddle ball, a cup to masturbate into, a pregnancy montage, the grand tour, a rebellion, attempted reboot, exploding head, “the process,” a brief brawl, total car destruction with serious glass smashing, and a weird as hell ending.

Kim Richards?: Almost.

Gratuitous: An underground hard rock club performance, a hot chick jamming on a guitar while smoking a cigarette, a guy dancing for no reason, base jumping, a license plate that says “flash drive,” singing in jail with harmonica playing, class warfare, a woman named Chamomile, double smacking the wall in frustration, an “I Love Oly” coffee mug, a watch phone, a massage and spa interlude, major sound equipment, old movie posters on the wall, a guy talking in computer code, an old woman in a wheelchair, virtual paddle ball, , a digital double, harp playing, attempted reboot, and a weird as hell ending.

Best lines: “Does anyone out there still want to be human?,” “Devi. Don’t do it,” “Go change your diapers and take a nap!,” “Bitch! You’ll pay for this!,” “Extreme sports?,” “Yet another stellar performance,” “That thing sucks,” “Devi, just think about it,” ‘It’s been one week!,” “Is the surgery on our new diva complete?,” “Breathe, don’t swallow,” “Adrian, she’s completely stressed out,” “This is your Mom?,” “It really brings new light to sound, doesn’t it?,” “What are we doing?,” “So, who is the guy in the suit?,” “Did you tell her about the after party?,” “Please don’t make this difficult,” “I’m not going anywhere with a Putz or a Capenstein!,” “What was he doing? I don’t know. There are a lot of mentally ill people around,” “Stanley, he’s got a point. It’s very soft data,” “How do you expect me to run this company with all that crap jammed up my ram?,” “What is happening to me is not what I signed up for you techno bitch!,” “Let’s feed the cows,” “What the hell are you guys doing here?,” “Get that jizz out of here!,” “Sir William Arkoff, so glad you could join us,” “Hey, mama, take it easy. I just need to borrow William for a minute,” “The reboot’s not happening!,” and “Hello, Stanley.”

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Danger Diva is a weird beard sci-fi sort of musical that may confuse you but will definitely entertain you throughout. Its obvious low budget undermines some of the scope that writer/director Robert McGinley is going for, but the plusses outweigh the minuses and the end result is something that you should absolutely make an effort to see. I didn’t understand a good chunk of it, but that’s what repeat viewings are for. And that’s what I want to do. I want to see Danger Diva again. I have a feeling that after you see it once, you’ll want to see it again, too. So see Danger Diva. It’s very worth it.

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Danger Diva, Bryan Kristopowitz