This obviously can't be known in the rest of the world but, for such a small and insignificant country, the film industry in Belgium is very flourishing and especially since the last 5-10 years. There are lots of Belgian – and particularly Flemish – movies coming out each year and they are practically all popular and lure massive amounts of people to the theaters. Some lucky Belgian directors even begin to attract the attention of big Hollywood producers, like for example Eric Van Looy ("Loft"), Michaël Roskam ("Rundskop"), Geoffrey Enthoven ("Hasta La Vista") and Felix Van Groeningen ("The Broken Circle Breakdown"). It's good to know that mainstream Belgian cinema is doing well, but in case you're a fan of horror, cult and exploitation movies, it's even more interesting to know that Belgium also has a genuinely hardcore grindhouse underworld. The uncrowned king of the Belgium B-Z movies is definitely writer/director/producer Johan Vandewoestijne – a.k.a James Desert. He made himself immortal, at least to a selected group of people worldwide, with the class-sick "Lucker the Necrophagous" in 1986. "Lucker" is a film about a dangerously disturbed serial killer/necrophiliac who's loose on the streets, and judging by the plot synopsis and themes of the new film "Laundry Man", well Mr. Vandewoestijne's favorite subjects and personal interests clearly haven't changed much in nearly 30 years. "Laundry Man" handles about – surprise, surprise – a dangerously disturbed serial killer/necrophiliac who's loose on the streets, but admittedly the Vandewoestijne's screenplay is slightly more ambitious and attempts to insert several sub plots and relevant social themes this time. The killer's modus operandi to get rid of bodies is loosely inspired by Andras Pandy, who dissolved the bodies' of his victims in acid bath and he takes on the false identities of a female dominatrix and her docile slave in internet chatrooms in order to lure new victims. There even is a fun but totally pointless little sub plot about the killer being a stingy bastard, since he urges a prostitute to finish her drink before they leave the bar and because he does his laundry in washing rooms of other people's apartments. The director also implements a narrative structure that alternately exists of interrogation sequences at the police station and the actual murder crimes committed by psychopath Jeff Damen. When Johan Vandewoestijne introduced his film at the Brussels International Festival of Fantastic Films, he particularly emphasized the fact that he never gets any financial support from the Belgian government or subsidies from any cultural funds. To be honest, I would find it very weird and inappropriate if our government spends the tax payers' money on sick-spirited horror movies that features scenes of lunatic using a severed female head to conduct fellatio on himself. This meant that Vandewoestijne had to look for investors elsewhere and found them overseas, but unfortunately this also led to the film's main default. Because the investors don't like to read subtitles, the entire film is spoken in English instead of Dutch and it makes the actors/actresses come across as unnatural, forced, unpersuasive and sometimes even downright amateurish. It looks and sounds as if the entire cast is just reciting words rather than having actual conversations and some lines are even literally translated from Dutch into English and don't make a lick of sense. I can't blame Vandewoestijne for indulging to the will of his American/Canadian producers, but the language and acting are two elements that often make "Laundry Man" incredibly difficult to endure. There are more defaults, in fact, most notably that the film is too long and slow-paced, and the camera work is too monotonous and uninspired. The violence and bloodshed is extreme but not too shocking. The undertones and insinuations, on the other hand, are depraved and disgusting. Johan Vandewoestijne made two different films with detailed and explicit footage of necrophilia, so if I was part of his circle of friends I would be severely worried One last note on the Belgian underground film industry: apparently someone by the name of Steve De Roover is currently working on a documentary called "Forgotten Scares: An in-depth look at Flemish Horror Cinema" that will bring all the rarely seen horror/cult flicks from my beloved country together. Who knows, maybe it'll do for Belgian horror what "Not Quite Hollywood" did for Australian exploitation. One thing's for sure already, though Johan Vandewoestijne and his movies will certainly play a prominent role in this documentary!
Laundry Man is the story about a rather clumsy serial killer. It is partly based on the crimes committed by American serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and those committed by the Belgian-Hungarian pastor Andras Pandy.
December 27, 2020