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Meat Weed America
Full disclosure: I haven't seen Aiden Dillard's 2006 Meatweed Madness, and while it's probably not essential that you do to understand the film (relatively speaking), it probably couldn't hurt as there appears to be some continuity in regards to that earlier picture.
So yeah, Aiden Dillard made a film a few years ago called Meatweed Madness and shortly after followed it up with this sequel, Meatweed America, a movie filled with enough sex, drugs, and wackiness to send any puritanical viewers running to the hills. As over the top as anything else Troma has put out (and that's saying something), this isn't a movie that's in the least bit concerned with appeasing a mainstream audience so much as it is with flipping them off.
The plot, such as it is, follows a young woman named Jessie Bell (Carey Sveen) who lives at Meatweed Manor where a white Rastafarian patriarch named Lord Meatweed (Dennis Palozzolo) runs the house. Jessie wants nothing more than to move to New York City, and Lord Meatweed is a bit hesitant to let her go. Around the same time that the two are discussing this, a remote control airplane flies into the house undetected and delivers a videotape. Lord Meatweed wastes no time throwing it into his VCR and up on the projection screen we see a message from a terrorist calling himself Bin Smokin (Peter Stickles) who wants revenge against Lord Meatweed, who some time ago cut off and smoked his foreskin.
Shortly after this, a nun with breast implants named Sister Mary and a penchant for foot worship shows up with her hot assistant and a not so hot guy in drag in hopes of joining Lord Meatweed in some experimentation and mind opening exercises. Unfortunately, Bin Smokin and his Jihottie warriors are Hell-bent on working the divisions that exist between the southern branch of the Meatweed clan and their kinfolk to the northeast. Jessie eventually makes it to New York where she meets up with Duke E. Meatweed where she's talked into posing for a painting for his cigarette company's advertising campaign by a woman called The Hempress (Debbie Rochan). But will Bin Smokin throw a wrench into all of this? Not if Sister Mary can help it...
Chock full of sex, violence, real piercings, drug use and puking, Meatweed America is on its own level of strange. There's a plot here, though you've got to wade through a whole lot of insanity to get to it. The film is made up of a cast of primarily amateur actors, so the performances aren't even close to good, but it's obvious that Dillard isn't so much concerned with that or with the story as he is in creating shocking set pieces and memorably trashy moments. On that level alone, the film is a pretty raving success, but for a lot of people that won't be quite enough to seal the deal.
Now, you can certainly argue that with a film like this the plot and the acting aren't what matters, it's the intent, the insanity of it all, and yes, the shock value and there's something to be sad for that. There are a lot of moments here that are laugh out loud funny and a few more that are pretty impressive from the 'gross out' standpoint. Dillard's definitely got a knack for pushing buttons and creating memorably ridiculous set pieces as the film is full of them, but without a stronger plot to tie it all together the film just isn't as good nor, more importantly, as interesting as it could and should have been.The DVD
Meat Weed America looks okay for a low budget picture. It's obviously been shot on consumer grade video but the disc is fairly well authored and the picture is at least consistently clean. There are spots where things look too harsh in terms of the lighting and this sucks a bit of the color out but it's not like this is going to change your opinion of the movie or affect your viewing experience at all. Honestly, the film looks about as good as it has to, maybe even a bit better considering the source material and all.Sound:
The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track on this disc is of pretty decent quality. Dialogue is easy enough to understand even with all the phony southern accents thrown into the mix, and the levels are properly balanced. There's a bit of high end distortion in a few scenes but aside from that the movie sounds fine.
Before you start the movie you have the option of watching a brief introduction from writer/director Aiden Dillard where he jumps around in the nude and waves his 'dick' in front of the camera. It's crass, but you can't help but laugh at it. Troma has also supplied a behind the scenes documentary that runs just over forty minutes and which was shot over a few days. Here you'll see lots of nudity, a lot of people goofing around on set, and Dillard doing his director's thing. You'll also get a nasty close up look into how the suspension scenes were done, so those who are unsettled by hooks and body modification type stuff, you have been warned...
Also included here are a bunch of Dillard's early student films and some of his short films as well. Most of these are in the same off the wall vein as the feature, and there's a fair bit of material here to go through. If you dug Meat Weed America and enjoy Dillard's style, you'll definitely enjoy the shorts, but if it didn't float your boat, this stuff won't likely change your mind on the matter.
Aside from that, look for a still gallery, trailers for the feature and for other Troma releases, menus and chapter selection.
It's hard not to have fun with a movie as flat out insane as Meat Weed America, even if it's plagued by terrible acting, sloppy camerawork, and cheap-jack production values. Frequently nonsensical and almost entirely anarchic in structure and execution, it wins points not only for originality but for wagging its middle finger in the face of anyone it sees fit to. Troma's DVD looks and sounds fine for what it is and while this isn't likely a movie you'll go back to time and time again, those with an interest in perverted and transgressive fringe cinema (all others need not apply) may want to give it a rental.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.