When I was around 12-16 I made a lot of super 8mm films with my friend Alan: lots of stalking and combat and little kids from the neighborhood outfitted in my dad's giant worn out suits, and fireworks special effects. I drew the explosions in with a pin on the emulsion, the old fashioned FLASH GORDON CONQUERS THE UNIVERSE way! On my super 8 projector you could do overdubs onto the finished celluloid. I'd que up the right section of CAT PEOPLE (1982) in the background as I banged pots to get the perfect Giorgio Moroder score. Alan's job was the audience. We filmed for a week at his grandparents. His grandparents loved our movies, unconditionally. We could have shown them home movies from Mars and they would have adored them. We showed them over and over and they never wearied.
But when the films get so bad that not even Alan's grandparents could love them... then you are in trouble.
That's when Joseph A. Ziemba and Dan Budnik come in.
Bleeding Skull started in 2004, had a hiatus, and is now back. I'm still digging around their archives, so might not even have yet found their recent stuff. I particularly like their old VHS reviews, with their relishing of horrible blurred, faded color and unholy contrast levels; the blurry tracking and muffled sound, for them it is all part of the artistic meta-experience.
It's thus in that holy whore exaltation that Ziemba does his alchemical magic of reclaiming the wastelands of 1980s junk Anti-Art and the more matter-of-fact but just as insane Budnik indicates what you should actually bother to see rather than just read about and isn't afraid to tangent off on the step-by-step process of falling back in love with the final girl in HE KNOWS YOUR ALONE. Budnik is the Jon Stewart to Ziemba's Stephen Colbert, the Paul to his John, the Wyatt Earp to his Doc Holliday.
I didn't even go into their flawless choices in screenshots, and the dryly hilarious captions... Hell, y'all need to just go there with me now, to the source of some random quotes, first from Ziemba :
The Incredibly Strange Creatures that Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies...
What's that spell? Imagine Serge Gainsbourg meeting up with The Chordettes at a showing of The Weird World Of LSD, then stopping off for sno-cones at Coney Island before heading off to sleep."Dark Night of the Scarecrow:
Although the template-driven plot and extended runtime can't match the taught anxiety of Bad Ronald, Scarecrow still consumes you. Performances? Definitely flawless. Imagery? Repeatedly frightening. Fat guys running through a field? Slightly humorous. The Halloween party and warbling synths enriched the Autumn aura and paved the way for a cryptic climax that could only leave a smile in its wake. A dark night, indeed.Satan's Storybook (1989): (image atop)
A small void exists between "Super Mario Brothers On Ice" and an evening at Medieval Times. Consider it filled. Satan's Storybook is meant to be taken seriously. I think. Therefore, by the power vested in thine camcorder, the defective structure, theatrics, and presentation run tantamount with that sincerity. This unlikely collaboration leads to an experience that originates on Mother Earth, but clearly ends up in galaxies unknown. And that's what we want. While SS is nothing compared to the prodigious sweat-psych of Boarding House, the constant close-ups, grim tone, and ambitious-yet-crappy costumes resonate with that familiar stench. Even when you're half-asleep.
Blood and Lace (1971)
Ellie, the lovely mod. Tom, the drunken handyman. Colby, the horny cop. And, of course, "Old Man Mask", the burly hammer-killer.
I think I'm in the right place.
That's what it's all about, isn't it? The right place. The right time. The right feeling. Collectively, that's what we search for. A perfect B.L.T. at lunch, an evening headphone session with "Nilsson Sings Newman", a late-nite tryst with The David Steinberg Show; they all pave the road to many Rights and very few Wrongs. Of course, that depends on who you are. Do you have a thing for hammer POVs and rubber-limb gore?
Blood And Lace knows the answer. Welcome to the right place.
Sinthia, the Devil's Doll (1970)
So there's the gist. When you add the frequent triple-exposures, warbled easy listening LP music cues, and a reliance on confined spaces, Sinthia reveals itself fully. Aimless. Dumb. Pretty boring. It's a superb example of grating, sub-arthouse anti-entertainment. Of course, that's the very reason why it's worth experiencing.
And Now, Dan Budnik... who blew my mind with this:
Demons of Ludlow:
The Hungan"A haunted piano is delivered to the town of Ludlow just in time for their bicentennial. Of course, when the men deliver it, they don't say "Here's your haunted piano. Where do you want it?" The haunted part is a surprise. It's a gift from the man who founded the town. And that man was a jerk."
I mean, here's a beautiful example: the guy throwing the party introduces Cry Wolf. They start playing a song, pure-80's hair band. The camera sits on the other side of the room pointed at them. The song starts and folks begin to dance. In front of the camera. They all move in front of the camera. You can barely see the band. This goes on for two minutes. The great thing about the film's length is that this scene will not preclude something like this happening again in ten minutes. It does not mean that we won't get a long scene where the campers chat amongst themselves (sometimes incoherently) as they stroll to the campgrounds, with a strong whiff of Blood Lake mixed in. It does not mean that we won't get a long scene where some waitresses' chat about a date one of them had. It means we get it all.
And, it's all great.----
Dude, BLEEDING SKULL is all great! Even if (like myself) your natural decency doesn't permit you to enjoy these sorts of films, you owe it to yourself to be informed. May God and Sinthia have mercy on us all in the future, goodnight Mrs. Calabash, Just drop by when it's convenient too, be sure to call before you do (read that sung by Nilsson); and goodbye yellow brook sanity!