Top 10 Obscure Outsider Homemade Movies on DVD That You Probably Never Heard Of in 2005
If DVD has done anything, it has given an outlet to individuals who would otherwise find it near impossible to broach the moviemaking marketplace. Thanks to the technological advances of the last decade first time filmmakers with vision and vitality have been given an outlet for their own unique brand of cinematic rebellion. Sometimes, the efforts are laughable. On occasion, they are downright dreadful. But every once in a while, a genuine jewel stands out among the filmic offal. These entertaining and engaging efforts rely more on the skills of their creators to take back the cinema from its miscreant mainstream meddlers. These Indie dissidents aren't out to challenge the system - they want to change it once and for all.
The result is a compendium of crazy cult classics that deserves a substantially wider audience. From the unhinged hysteria of the late 1960s to recent reinventions of the mixed-up macabre genre, these outsider offerings stand out because of qualities both exceptional and experimental. They prove that some of the most innovative and original filmmaking is coming not from Sundance or studio-backed prestige production companies. Instead, true moviemaking subterfuge is occurring in backyards and on PCs everywhere. The revolution is indeed upon us, and the digital domain is its primary propaganda source.
So without further ado, here are the Top Ten Obscure Outsider Homemade Movies on DVD That You Probably Never Heard Of from 2005:
10. Raising the Stakes:
You can't get much more homemade than first time director Justin Channell's homage to high school geekdom and horror film fandom. Indeed, this entire project is a labor of love between friends so in tune with each other's sense of humor that everything clicks in this amazing comic gem. The pseudo-scary storyline about a couple of dorks who want to be vampires because...well, the undead are kinda cool, is never fully explored, and a lot of the jokes are stolen from shows like South Park and Family Guy. Still, Channell manages to do the nearly impossible - he creates a truly hilarious film that's fresh, not forced.
9. Buzz Saw
Serial slaughter...alien invasion...hopelessly inept handymen...you name it, Buzz Saw has found a way to add it into its mixed-up menagerie of the macabre. Imagine the Coen Brothers as the kings of carnage, or David Lynch exposing the true secrets behind Area 51 - that's the visual vibe and narrative tone achieved by directors Robin Garrels and Dave Burnett. Beyond its bizarro world tendencies is a film that fully understands the requirements of a fictional realm. Garrels and Burnett give their movie about murder and extraterrestrial menace untold dimensional details, making it as authentic and inviting as it is arcane and insane.
8. Sins of the Fleshapoids:
Welcome to the outsider film's official starting point. Working from their New York home, and an unbridled love of cinema, brothers George and Michael Kuchar single-handedly brought moviemaking to the mixed-up masses with their oddball ode to sexually frustrated robots. Sins centers on a post-war planet one million years in the future, but all the sci-fi facets are guided through a vision unequivocally eccentric. Though today it's more camp and kitsch than groundbreaking and ingenious, this fascinating film (one of three included on Other Cinema's DVD offering) is still a mind-blowing milestone, a retro reminder of where filmmakers like John Waters got their ideas and inspiration.
Death is a tenuous subject for a filmmaker, especially when dealing with issues as deep as grief or as shocking as necrophilia. But director Ignacio "Nacho" Cerdà handles both with such deftness and seriousness that one can't help but be incredibly impressed. Genesis's tone poem of loss is as graceful and beautiful as it is unnerving, but it's Aftermath that's true 'corpse-f***ing art' (to borrow a line from Jörg Buttgereit). While the graphic depiction of sex with the dead will definitely disturb, Cerdà's dialogue-less movie is more than just a glorified geek show. It's a direct retort to mortality and everything it stands for.
Two dimwits and a guy dressed up in an ogre suit want to start a rock band. All they end up with is an ironclad contract from a couple of corrupt con artists. Doesn't sound like the most promising premise for an anarchic comedy, but filmmakers Brady Hall and Calvin Reedy are well versed in all things Jerkbeast. They have transported their own foul-mouthed public access call-in show to the big screen and created a 'rags to riches to rotten' road film that's as foul as it is funny. As an exercise in extremes both slapstick and scatological this is homemade humor at its most pure and potent.
5. Inbred Redneck Alien Abduction:
The plotline couldn't be more promising - invaders from outer space target a group of hopelessly hick hillbillies for their icky "experiments" and the government comes calling. Thankfully, writer/director Patrick Vos and his co-writer Adam Hackbarth do more than just flesh out this funny business. They create a comedy so novel and unusual that recent Hollywood horse-hockey just pales in comparison. Aside from the fact that bumpkins are basically humor gold, these devilishly deranged filmmakers find ways to give FBI agents and egregious E.T.s their own sense of silliness and savvy. The result is a misguided masterwork, an outsider opus you'll revisit again and again.
4. The Stink of Flesh
Nowadays, it's nearly impossible to make an original zombie film...that is, unless your name is Scott Phillips. While still playing within the dimensions of the undead, this amazing auteur has found a way to revitalize a genre that the homemade movie has more or less ravaged beyond recognition. And he does it by injecting a little exploitation level sleaze into the mix. This sordid story about a sex-starved couple looking for lovers among the post-apocalyptic survivors of a corpse-plagued planet is both serious and satirical, dealing with issues other horror films wouldn't dare explore. In the realm of overdone ideas, Phillips is the flesh-eaters' certified savior.
3. Reflections of Evil:
Along with the sublime Giuseppe Andrews, Damon Packard is a true God of the outsider effort. Using a style that can best be described as mise-en-mess, and a persona filled with equal parts Tourettes and talent, this true independent maverick has mixed his 70s obsessions with his hatred of the world to weave a truly inspired expression of self. Packard plays an overweight street vendor dealing with the death of his sister. In between his profane public outbursts, we witness clips from The ABC Movie of the Week, a young Stephen Spielberg onset, and footage from the Universal Studio tour. As a film, it's fascinating. As a cry for help, it's downright disturbing.
2. The American Astronaut:
Some may know Cory McAbee as the lead singer and guiding light of the art rock outfit The Billy Nayer Show. But if there is any justice in this land, he will soon be known as the visionary director of one of the most amazing films from the last decade, The American Astronaut. Centering around a mercenary space jockey who must deliver a real live girl to a planet that worships a young boy who once saw a female breast, McAbee adds idiosyncratic touches and retro-rococo designs to his epic adventure to deliver a wholly unique musical(!!!)that will remind you of the glory days of MGM gone all mangy and diseased.
1. Plaga Zombie: Mutant Zone:
Take a trio of horror film fans from Brazil, inspire them with every known motion picture and pop culture reference on the planet and serve up with a sly, ironic sense of humor and you've got one of the most remarkable amateur efforts ever created. Actually two parts in a proposed trilogy, Plaga Zombie, and its Mutant Zone sequel arrive on one DVD so brimming with brilliance that you just might be blinded by its practical perfection. As terror it's a treat. As comedy it's clever and creative. But as a work of pure personal genius, no one can top this pair of productions. They are truly 2005's best.
- Bill Gibron