People send me these movies. They come in plain brown wrappers that look like they've been mailed from Pakistan, and inside is a video with a plasticine cover they bought at Staples and a letter that's BEGGING for attention.
"Dear Joe Bob: Only you could appreciate the enclosed zombie love story made with local actors here in Pocatello, Idaho. We're having trouble finding a distributor, so if you could please..."
"Dear Joe Bob: I make these weird movies in my attic. My mom is threatening to throw out all my equipment if I don't start doing something with them. Would you please watch my animated short 'Psycho Man' and tell me..."
"Dear Joe Bob: Terror has a name. It is 'Mastermind.' This is a student film I finally completed after starting it three years ago during my senior year at the University of South Florida film school. It's based on real-life events in the underworld of Dayton, Ohio. There are things here that have never been revealed..."
"Dear Joe Bob: You may be familiar with my documentary on prostitution, which won awards at the Amherst, Mass., Fringefest as well as the Metalhead '91 music festival in Birmingham, England (you may recall that Estrella, one of the prostitutes, was a part-time musician). I've taken the momentum of that project and stretched it into a feature-length fictional essay called 'Hooking,' and I would very much appreciate a review at your earliest convenience."
And I get these movies, and I look at 'em, and I review some of 'em, and I always ask myself: How can there be this many THOUSANDS of filmmakers in the world? And how do they all find ME?
And after getting 10,000 of 'em, you know what?
I'm still glad to get the next one.
Because there's nothing more difficult on this earth than financing and shooting a film. Even the worst film ever made took two years out of somebody's life. And I'm just amazed by the sheer GALL of all these guys and gals fighting Hollywood. They don't often win, but I like knowing they're around.
And speaking of off-balance people, the ultra-low-budget film scene in San Francisco has always been one of the strangest assortments of art films, exploitation films, avant-garde scratch-the-lens, in-your-face films that never played beyond the walls of a punk club, and outright porno. And one of the most recent is Lory-Michael Ringuette's "Deeply Disturbed," the sensitive story of a mama's boy who likes to go to his dear mother's grave and introduce her to his latest girlfriend--after she's dead.
Ringuette--who's been acting in low-budget stuff in Northern California for about 10 years--produces, writes, directs, and plays the pudgy, trigger-happy serial killer, while Paula Matlin is the housewife who gets packed into his car one day when she's trying to get away from a guy at the laundromat she THINKS is a sex pervert.
There's a great vanity-film tradition of playing various versions of Norman Bates. You would think it would be, say, Clint Eastwood, but there are actually more filmmakers who cast themselves as psychos, sex perverts, and deranged maniacs. And that's the road Ringuette takes, setting up the cameras, lighting the scene, then saying "Action" as he drops his pants, drools, and buries bodies. It's a grim picture, without hope.
My kinda movie. Four dead bodies. No breasts. Multiple breather calls.
One kidnapping. One pitiful car crash. One depraved sex crime.
Head-bashing. Gratuitous hooker. Peeping-Tom fu. Handcuff fu.
Drive-In Academy Award nominations for:
*Lory-Michael Ringuette, as the killer who sells plastic-fetus novelty items, for saying, "It's like they say--can't live with 'em, gotta kill 'em."
*Paula Matlin, as the sultry brunette who says, "Why don't you let me go?" about 19 different ways.
*And Frank X. Mur and Derek James Yee, as two cops who shuffle cluelessly through the movie.
Joe Bob says check it out.
Joe Bob's Find That Flick
This week's forehead-flummoxer comes from Michael Kohne of Norristown, Pa.:
"The movie was science fiction, with possible comedic overtones. It concerned the adventures of two young men who had grown up in a fallout shelter after World War III.
"These men, who had learned all their mannerisms and styles of dress from old '50's movies, go forth into a post-apocalyptic world.
"Any guidance would be appreciated."
A video will be awarded to the correct answer. In the event of a tie, a drawing will be held. Send "Find That Flick" questions and solutions to Joe Bob Briggs, P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, Texas 75221. You can also fax them to 213-462-5982 or e-mail them to Joe Bob on the Internet: 76702.1435
"I'm looking for a crazy Vietnam vet movie. I don't know anything about it except that I think it came out around the same time as The Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now.
"The hero is home from the war and he's trying to tell his buddy what happened to him when he was a POW. The 'Nam vet has his friend tie his arms behind his back with one end of a long piece of rope. The guy then throws the other end of the rope over some rafters and then the vet tells his buddy to yank on the rope so that the vet's arms are pulled violently up toward the ceiling in a manner which was never intended for human arms.
"The vet guy actually likes this, and keeps telling his friend to pull harder. What the heck is this flick?"
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We had one correct answer, so the winner is Allan Winston of Stanford, Calif.:
"This is 'Rolling Thunder,' starring William Devane, and it turns out to be a vets-kick-ass story when some bad guys steal the coin collection a grateful town has awarded to POW Devane, and he has to team up with another vet, go down to Mexico, and shoot a lot of people.
"I believe Paul Schrader (who wrote Taxi Driver) wrote and directed this puppy, which I saw a sneak preview of on a first date in 1977. It is NOT a date movie. The sickest piece in the scene above is Devane's line, 'You have to learn to love the rope.'"
1997 Joe Bob Briggs (Distributed by NYT Special Features)