If you’re aware that Neon Flesh isn’t a fetish porno about highlighter-coloured genitalia, your expectations won’t be high. And nor should they be; Ricky (Casas), who resembles the lovechild of Plan B and Antonia Banderas has a slo-mo bullet coming at his face, and whines about death. So far, so contrived. Blah blah, “do you see your whole life flash before you?”, blah blah “the world is split in two, you see” blah blah LIKE THESE TWO PERFECTLY PEACHY BUM CHEEKS. We’re listening.
Ricky’s best friend Angelito (Romero) is a pimp running the unidentified streets of some unidentified urban shithole. He has a pet crackwhore who is not unidentified, going by Scrag (Macarena Gomez). It’s this impossibly lovable prossie who persaudes him to go in on Ricky’s plan to celebrate the release of his hooker-mother (Molina) from prison by starting their dream brothel, Club Hiroshima. Along for the ride is transvestite Princess (Conde), pursuing a career in “cinema” (porn) and the film’s smartest character; Rocco the dog invariably heads straight for the nearest streetwalker. Fulfilling the ‘dreamy’ quotient, The Kid (Caceres) is Angelito’s sweet-natured muscle, all broad shoulders and Hugh Laurie-blue eyes. Driving around killing randoms and scouting for bitches of an afternoon, Kid finds himself in love at first sight with the beautiful Mobila; so he stashes her in the boot of the car, foetus and all. A set of LOCO knuckledusters and one paraplegic later, Club Hiroshima is live.
The place is awash with spunk and euros quicker than you can say “Club Hiro-WHAT?”, but someone’s not happy about it. The turf-war trope is trotted out, and it transpires that the cartoonish El Chino (Dario Grandinetti) has a bone to pick with the po-po, and is also peeved that Club Hiroshima is operating on his territory. He outlines his plan to Ricky; extort a €100,000 fine out of Club Hiroshima, and kidnap the sexually voracious daughter (Blanca Suarez) of the police chief who disposed of his son’s body to cover up the police bruality that killed him. So Ricky and Angelito put their heads together to come up with the dosh.
If there’s a romance in this film more epic than that of the Kid and Mobila, it’s the bromance between Ricky and Angelito. When The Kid’s great love gives birth, the baby is sold to an infertile couple, and the domestic they have about why they can’t just “drown it like a kitten in a bucket” is downright marital. Angelito is Ricky’s voice of “no-homo” support and reason every step of the way, and though his advice isn’t always sound (“Watch-calculators man, not bitches! That’s where the money’s at!”), it’s true love. It’s around here that the film stops repulsing you quite so doggedly (there’s a pun in there if you watch the film). When Ricky collects his mother from prison, her Alzheimer’s becomes clear when she tries to (ambitiously) charge him ₧5,000 to fuck her. She provides some of the funniest moments of a ridiculous film (“No one wants a pussy with no papers.”) and is instrumental to the unexpectedly poignant second half of Neon Flesh, which will have you wishing you spoke enough Spanish to sort that bitch’s be-tumoured brain out.
Plenty of this cast don’t survive this film. The thing is drenched in more blood than a Tesco abattoir, and somehow still manages to convey an interesting look at what parents will do for their children, how little a blood relation actually makes someone a parent, and enough laughs to make it so you don’t cry at the end. The soundtrack goes a long way towards setting this curious mood; it’s a cracking mix of funk, layered over with 80s synths and a strikingly modern vibe, close to the lilting beats of Two Door Cinema Club. You find yourself dancing mid-gang rape, and once you’re done self-flagellating for that, you’re quietly impressed that they managed it. Really, you’re quietly impressed by the whole thing.