When I rented this film at the video store, the clerk looked at me and asked, “You know this isn’t the Josh Hartnett movie, right?”
“Yeah,” I muttered with an embarrassment normally reserved for KY Jelly and Hustler purchases. “I’m not expecting much.”
You see, having recently sat through Zombie Nation, I’d been exposed to the wretchedness that is an Ulli Lommel film. Back in the day, Boogeyman — the film on which he still hangs his hat, coat and entire wardrobe — was OK, but his 21st century flurry of shot-on-video, DTV releases has been utter dreck.
Black Dahlia is no exception, but it does contain an intriguing scene that may be the first and only instance of a character being spared from dying in a horror movie specifically because she is black. Thank you, affirmative action! The “she” in question is a character named Monica (I’d tell you the actress’s name, but this movie is so janky, it doesn’t even list character names in the ending credits.). She responds to a call for an audition held by a trio of rejected slasher film psychos (one dressed like a butcher, one like a baseball player, one like a schoolgirl) seeking to find an actress who looks exactly like the famed Black Dahlia. Ironically, a black gal is out of the question. The schoolgirl killer tells her to kick rocks:
Schoolgirl: Look, you’re just not what we’re looking for for this role.
Monica: Then, what are you looking for? Look, I’m really a very talented actress, and I can do whatever part you want me to do if you just give me a chance to audition for this part…
Schoolgirl: I don’t think you’re hearing me. It’s time for you to leave. You better go while you still can.
Monica: Look, schoolgirl, or whatever your name is —
Schoolgirl: Listen, bitch, turn around and go home now while you still can, because I’m going to change my mind real soon.
Monica: Look, I don’t have to stand here and be treated like this. I think you’re doing this because I’m black.
Schoolgirl: Actually, I am.
Monica: I’m sorry, I don’t follow.
Schoolgirl: You’re not the ethnicity that we’re looking for for this role.
Monica: You know what? Can I just audition for this one part —
Schoolgirl: You’re wasting both of our time. Believe me, you are the lucky one. Go home now while you still can.
Monica: You suck.
Suck indeed, but at least she lets Monica walk off, black and proud…to be alive. Which is good for all of us, because it means one less death scene, since all of them in this movie are tedious and repetitive and inexplicably end with lounge musical numbers. Really.