Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Alien Beasts (1991)

How bad is it? It's on of the two or three worst-structured films ever made.
Should you see it?  Yes. It can be a chore to watch, but I think it's rewarding.

This film is essentially plotless, but I think it's about aliens trying to move a macguffin (as defined by Hitchcock) from one place to another, but being thwarted by battling humans. The film just starts, in the middle of an uncoreographed fight scene involving people in costumes; I think you can hear them laughing at one point. There's a monotonous narration of things like "I remember. I remember." The narration continues over intertitles. There's an interminable scene of a topless woman in a mask. There's repeated still shots of bad art. The film goes back to the fight scene repeatedly. The last part of the film switches from videotape to film for a lengthy stop-motion sequence that looks like a teenager's experiment and which has no obvious connection to the rest of the film; the most memorable shot of this is a blue modeling clay hand having its fingers cleaved and dribbling "alien blood."

I've said before that I think "Samurai Cop" and "Birdemic" were made intentionally bad, but I honestly can't say with this one - it's either phenomenally bad on purpose or it's almost impossibly inept, a case of outsider art on film. Deciding between these is more fun than watching the movie!

One possibility is that two guys working in a video store talked about bad movies and decided they could make a movie as good (or as bad) as what they're renting; one of them mentions having made a short film - the stop motion sequence - and they view it, laughing at how bad it is and decide to pad it. They get their friends together, probably involving drugs (there's a large mortar and pestle on a coffee table in the scene where we see the narrator) and then stitch together the footage they have in the worst way they could.

The alternative is that this is the "Kung Fu Bicycle" of film. "Rolling Stone" magazine used to run ads in the back for Song Poems, where, if you sent lyrics and a check, studio musicians would compose music for, record and press a copy or two of your song. Some people intentionally sent impossible lyrics. One collector of these found a copy of a song called "Kung Fu Bicycle" and believed it to be intentionally bad (it starts about the joy of riding a bike and, apparently forgetting how it starts, then rambles about kung fu) until he met the guy who wrote it, who very earnestly had tried his best.

In this scenario, a guy of slightly diminished capacity tried to make a film. A friend of his then told him that he needed sex and violence to sell it, so the friend made the fight and topless scenes and they got edited into the film. The need to repeat sentences, the lack of affect, the disorganization of thought, all give credence to the idea of outsider art.

Remarkably, the film has parallels to the experimental short film "La Jetee" by Chris Marker, as it could be seen as narration of memories over essentially static shots, with a science fiction storyline. As director Sukenick has made three more films after this, it looks like this was all intentional.

1 comment:

  1. It's the latter. This guy is so nuts, David The Rock nelson had to tell him to stop bothering him. Think about that for a moment.