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TICKED OFF TRANNIES WITH KNIVES

TICKED OFF TRANNIES WITH KNIVES Writer-director Israel Luna's Ticked Off Trannies With Knives was first introduced to the world via a controversial trailer that used the names of Angie Zapata and Jorge Mercado, real-life victims of transgender hate crimes, as part of a marketing hook. GLAAD and members of the trans community subsequently protested everything from the use of the word "trannies" to the violence heaped upon the film's trans women. In the wake of all that heat, is the film any good? Yes and no. The upside: This homage to exploitation revenge films like (the original) I Spit on Your Grave has the look, sound track and feel of those '70s flicks down pat. And the trans performers are both gorgeous and charismatic, delivering their (often witless) lines with aplomb. (William Belli's casually racist character Rachel Slur steals her scenes with a detached bitchiness.) But much of the violence heaped on the women, and their reaction to it, is overly schematic. Too often they simper, cower and make foolish decisions in direct opposition to the strength, intelligence and (pardon) ballsiness that the film otherwise stresses they possess. In many scenes, Luna nimbly combines and oscillates between camp and cringe-inducing violence, but he's just as often tonally awry, especially in his frequent racial slurring of Mexicans. There's a good bad movie buried in here; it flickers intermittently, in its commentary on the threats and realities of violence that are facts of life for too many trans people, and its willingness to champion a by-any-means-necessary self-defense. (Ernest Hardy) (Sunset 5)