Category Archives: Cult Movies

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Mudhoney (1965)

Mudhoney (1965)
Directed by Russ Meyer
Starring Hal Hopper, Antoinette Christiani, John Furlong

Recently I was lucky enough to acquire a box set of 14 Russ Meyer flicks on video. As any fan could tell you these films aren’t that easy to acquire and most of these have never been released on DVD or any other format in Australia.

Russ was a pioneer in low budget nudie and exploitation filmmaking. Many people would simply brand Meyer as a bad director and dump his work into the category of bad films. On the contrary, Meyer was an extremely talented filmmaker who made bold and controversial films that are still both entertaining and daring to this day. Meyer was more than just a dirty-old-man who liked making pictures about boobs as many people would lead to you to believe.

One of the best films Meyer made was Mudhoney, this movie is a good demonstration of his skill, technique and unique vision. Unlike many of Meyer’s other productions nudity and sex scenes are minimal, the goofy humour is toned down and violence is not glorified or sexualised. This movie is gritty, disturbing and rather shocking in it’s realistic portrayal of domestic violence and dysfunctional relationships.

Hal Hopper plays Sidney Brenshaw, a repulsive drunk who savagely beats and rapes his wife Hannah (played by Christiani). Sid and Hannah live on a farm owned by Hannah’s uncle Lute. Lute is a good man and a hard worker. He cannot understand why Hannah tolerates her husband’s violent behaviour. When Sid isn’t beating her he spends his time drinking at Maggie Marie’s brothel and screwing her two hillbilly-hooker daughters. Sid barely lifts a finger to help run the farm so Lute and Hannah decide to hire a farmhand. A stranger arrives in town looking for work. His name is Calif and he is hired almost immediately.

Despite learning that Calif is fresh out of prison Lute trusts him and sees him a more suitable partner for his niece Hannah. Problems with Sidney are escalating, he is becoming increasingly more violent, self-destructive and abusive to his wife. Calif has become more protective of Hannah and it seems a romance is beginning to bloom which only drives Sidney more insane with jealousy.

Lute is not healthy and fears he may die soon which excites Sidney who is already planning and scheming about what he will do with his half of the inheritance. About the time we learn of Sid’s scheme to leave Hannah with half the loot, he learns of Lute’s plan to leave his entire estate in Calif’s name. With the aid of a hypocritical preacher Sidney plans a diabolical plot to ruin the lives of Lute, Hannah and Calif once and for all.

It may not provide the titillation that most of Meyer’s films offer, but it certainly packs a punch with its powerful drama and cartoonish over-the-top characterization of evil. Lorna Maitland and Rena Horten play the scantily clad sisters who jiggle their wares at Mama’s little whorehouse and provide much of the humour in this black comedy. Horten’s character is a deaf and mute innocent who adores Sidney’s affections no matter how repulsively he treats her. She is Sidney’s polar opposite in this film. Mama Maggie Marie is played by Princess Livingston; a toothless, rubber-faced hag who appears in a few other Meyer flicks. Her hammy performance cannot be expressed in mere words. Hal Hopper oozes slime in a fantastically despicable performance as Sidney. Meyer’s black and white cinematography is aesthetically beautiful and adds a touch of class to the brutality and sleazy epic of rural melodrama. A must see.

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Shakes The Clown (1991)

Shakes The Clown (1991)

Written & Directed by Bobcat Goldthwait

Starring Bobcat Goldthwait, Julie Brown, Adam Sandler

Imagine waking up on a bathroom floor after a hard night’s drinking, an eight year old is pissing over your head into a toilet. You exit the strange bathroom to find you have slept with Florence Henderson (a.k.a. Mrs Brady) who has half of your clown make-up smeared all over her face. Welcome to the world of Shakes The Clown. A world where clowns get tanked at a sleazy bar called the Twisted Balloon, form violent gangs and act in the most appalling manner possible.

Shakes (Goldthwait) is a clown who makes a living from performing at children’s parties in a suburb called Palukaville, a town where there is a disturbingly large clown population. The clowns frequent the local bar where they drink heavily and exchange disgusting banter. Some of this offensive chatter is repulsively hilarious. An elderly, black, female clown boasts, ‘I’ve got that Peanut Butter pussy. Brown, smooth and easy to spread.’

Shakes has a girlfriend Judy (Julie Brown), a champion ten-pin bowler with a comical lisp that becomes annoying after only eight seconds. Judy is concerned Shakes is an alcoholic and fears that he is cheating on her. Exclaiming that Shakes is a ‘weal, wat turd’ she breaks off her relationship with the clown. Shakes is heart-broken and the pain is only increased when he is hit by a speeding bus just seconds later.

His career isn’t going too well either. His clowning partners are concerned about his drinking and pissed at him for constantly being late to gigs. His manager Owen Cheese, after bailing Shakes out of jail for charges of D.U.I, gives him an ultimatum: Clean up your act or your fired. To make matters worse, Shakes has just lost his opportunity to host the local children’s TV show to fellow clown Binky. Binky is the most despised clown in Palukaville, he is a complete A-Hole and considered incredibly unfunny. His performances on TV are disturbingly embarrassing. On top of that Binky is a small-time crook, who is constantly followed by a duo of oafish clown-goons. He is also psychotically jealous of Shakes relationship with the blonde bar-bimbo, Judy.

Shakes’ two best friends are his partners Dink (Adam Sandler) and Stenchy (Blake Clark), a bearded, cigar-chomping clown in a pink dress and padded bra. His friends confront him on his drinking habits. This intervention unfortunately leads to a booze-fuelled bender where the clowns drive around town in a spotty car, harass store owners and ultimately attack a couple of street-performing mimes. You see mimes are the clowns sworn enemies. The three drunken bozos brawl with the mimes while hurling abuse such as ‘You Silent Motherfuckers’ and ‘Learn how to speak!’ This montage is eerily reminiscent of the illustrated story ‘A Candy Cotton Autopsy’ by Dave Louapre and Dan Sweetman (this book also served as the artwork for the first album release by Mr Bungle)

This misadventure leads to a children’s party where Shakes becomes so intoxicated that he reeks havoc, traumatises the kiddies and trashes the entire family home. When Owen Cheese hears of this debacle he fires Shakes immediately. Predictably Shakes hits the bottle hard at the local bar. Only minutes after Shakes passes out Cheese discovers Binky amidst a drug deal with some redneck-coke-snorting Rodeo Clowns in a backroom. In a panic Binky kills his boss and frames the murder on our beloved hero Shakes.

When Shakes awakes from his booze-induced coma he hits the road believing he has actually killed Cheese. He is on the run from both the cops and the Rodeo cowboys who wish to destroy all evidence of the murder.

There is quite a few notable cameos and familiar faces in this film including Robin Williams as a mime instructor in a tight body suit that unflatteringly shows off his meat package. It’s odd to find a big star like Williams in such low-budget schlock, but I guess he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to exhibit his beloved mime skills. Adam Sandler appears in one of his early roles. Comedian Kathy Griffin plays Lucy, a cooking enthusiast with a foul-mouth. There is also a small role for veteran character actor Sydney Lassick, who may be familiar from ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ and the bizarre cult flick ‘Sonny Boy’. The movie is also the directional debut of Goldthwait, best known for playing the screeching street-tough in the Police Academy movies.

This movie is definitely not Oscar material, there are technical faults, bad acting, horrible pop songs and many jokes that fall flat on their arse. That said, this movie is a one of a kind experience, there will never be another movie like Shakes The Clown. And maybe that’s not a bad thing, but if you wanna see a movie with drunk clowns, brutality against mimes and lots of vomiting then Shakes is your best bet!