Yes, you read that title right, there is a film called L.A. AIDS Jabber (or simply Jabber) and Wild Eye Releasing has rescued it from obscurity as part of their new Visual Vengeance Blu-ray line, one devoted to “vintage Shot on Video and micro-budget genre independents from the 1980s through 2000s”. Two questions immediately come to mind, out of all the films that fall into that category is this one worth saving? And can it possibly be as tasteless as it sounds?
Jeff (Jason Majik, F.A.R.T. The Movie, A Dangerous Place) is not the most tightly wrapped of people, his psychiatrist has even told him that he’s “as crazy as they come”. And that was before he was diagnosed with HIV. His reaction to the news goes from bad, a failed suicide attempt, to worse, he fills a hypodermic with his tainted blood and goes around Los Angeles injecting people with it, starting with Tanya (Susan Para, Death Riders, Danger Zone III: Steel Horse War) the hooker he’s sure infected him.
L.A. AIDS Jabber is the only film written and directed by Drew Godderis who may be familiar from his roles in a handful of films including cult favorites Blood Diner and Evil Spawn. He comes up with a mashup of a slasher, or should I say jabber, and a police film. in that subplot, Detective Rogers (Marcy Lynn) and Detective Sterns (Tony Donangelo) try to track him down. In one of the many obstacles, Godderis faced on the shoot Donagelo had to be replaced mid-shoot. He was given an offscreen death and replaced by Detective Smithers (Justin Mack, Teen Perspective).
In terms of action, L.A. AIDS Jabber delivers about what you might expect from a no-budget shot on video film. Which is to say not a lot. There is plenty of talk and subplots involving domestic violence and the LAPD’s attempts to keep Jeff’s activities under wraps. The scene where they’re overheard by a scanner that looks like a low-end boom box is actually quite funny, though not intentionally I’m sure.
But the main problem with L.A. AIDS Jabber is that there really never exploits the full potential of its central idea. If you’re going to use a plot like this there’s really no tasteful way to do it, but Godderis seems to almost be afraid of being overly offensive. As a result, he holds back when he should be going all out. What could have been a uniquely tacky thriller or pitch-black comedy turns out to be an interesting, but not particularly good film.
L.A. AIDS Jabber never really delivers the tasteless thrills its title conjures up. There’s no blood, very little violence and, despite the STD driven plot, no nudity either. The final act twist, which I won’t spoil, is meant to be ironic but instead is distinctly underwhelming.
Long next to impossible to see, I don’t even recall seeing a bootleg of it on eBay, L.A. AIDS Jabber will be one the hardcore SOV fans and completists will want to add to their collections. More casual fans of the genre may want to wait for streaming availability.
Visual Vengeance has released L.A. AIDS Jabber as a Special Edition Blu-ray with plenty of extras. I saw it via a streaming screener so I can’t comment on the Blu-ray’s extras, but I can give you a list of them. And FilmTagger can give you suggestions for some similar films.
Select Bonus Features:
- Commentary Track with Director Drew Godderis
- Lethal Injection: The Making of L.A. AIDS JABBER
- Bleeding The Pack: An Interview with Lead Actor Jason Majick
- L.A. AIDS JABBER – 2021 Locations Visit
- Interview with Blood Diner Director Jackie Kong
- Actress Joy Yurada Interview
- Cast and crew Interviews
- Liner notes by Tony Strauss of Weng’s Chop Magazine
- Limited Edition Slipcover – FIRST PRINTING ONLY
- Reversible BR sleeve featuring original VHS art
- Collectible Mini-poster
- ‘Stick your own’ VHS sticker set
- And More