Stephanie wanders the streets after losing another job and doesn’t have enough money to call home. Naively she decides to accept a ride from a middle-aged man who takes her back to his place where she's drugged, kept prisoner, and forced into prostitution.
I think by now, most exploitation and underground film fans are familiar with the Sleaze Box brand — the company behind directing and distributing some of Tampa’s (Florida) trashiest films. While we haven’t covered their films ourselves, we’ve been more than aware of them. I had actually purchased their leading film, “Amerikan Holokaust”, but was left rather underwhelmed by the movie. Because of that, I’ve been hesitant to pursue any of their other releases, such as “Naughty, Dirty, Nasty”. Thankfully, director John Miller reached out to us with his most recent grime piece, “$kumbagz”, which faired much better with me.
Stephanie is a slacker and doesn't have much in the way of self-esteem. After receiving another lecture from her father about not doing anything with her life, she hits rock bottom when she's fired from her current job of flipping burgers. While hanging out on the street, she’s approached by Reo — a middle-aged man who offers her a ride to his place. She naively agrees, and when she arrives, Reo traps her, drugs her, and begins to psychologically break her down until she becomes his personal prostitute. Reo’s success with Stephanie attracts the attention of rival gangs and soon, she finds herself trapped in the middle of a turf war of drugs and prostitution.
There’s not much to talk about when it comes to “$kumbagz” since it is unapologetically sleazy and bluntly exploitive. Unintentionally, it reminds me a great deal of all the down and dirty exploitation movies I’ve seen from Something Weird Video’s catalog. The movies that were made with no greater intentions other than to wallow in their filth and decadence. Now I’m not trying to hype “$kumbagz” up to be as this end-all-be-all trash film that’ll shock you or make you uncomfortable.
That’s simply not going to happen with this film. I just admired that through the mix of sex, depravity, black-comedy, and it’s obvious down-n-dirty production, that movie recalled some of the stylings of the golden age of exploitation cinema. “$kumbagz” is actually an unusual amalgamation of Italian gothic cinema with it’s primary colored lighting scheme, DIY low-budget aesthetic, and sexploitation. It’s a mutt of a movie that can make you laugh at it while making you feel gross at the same time. I know I was rather creeped out, and basically, disgusted, while watching old men grope and prod a naked Krystal “Pixie” Adams in what looked like a crack den.
Like I said, there’s not much to talk about but that’s only because “$kumbagz” is a modern exploitation movie that delights in its debauchery. You watch as the character Stephanie (Krystal “Pixie” Adams) is dragged from one depraved scenario to the next. I think I walked away enjoying “$kumbagz” more than “Amerikan Holokaust” because “$kumbagz” is sort of an odd little movie; it wasn’t afraid to mix comedy in with the filth. Along with that Italian cinema influence and the hallucination sequences (that features Reo with a melting face), the movie had enough raunchy personality that I can’t say I was ever bored watching it.