You might not be familiar with the term 'Z-Movie,' but if you grew up in the 90's, chances are you've seen one. They're the beyond-low-budget monstrosities that teased you from the walls of the mom-and-pop video store. Usually, the films themselves could never live up to the pictures on the videotape boxes (because this was way before your fancy 'Digital Video Discs' and 'Blu-Rays') but occasionally you'd find something truly unique. 'WEIRDO FLICKS' will clue you into some movies which 'unique' doesn't even begin to describe...
'Reflections of Evil' - 2002, Directed by Damon Packard
You know you're about to have an unusual experience when you sit down with a film like Damon Packard's 2002 magnum opus. The guy went broke giving out thousands of free copies, and became fairly reclusive. Why did he give his movie away for free? Well, probably because over half the music in it is stolen, it includes lots and lots of uncleared footage from 70's television, and it has a segment in the middle that parodies George Lucas (and of course shows several clips of his work.)
Oh, and the full cut of the movie is also about 3 hours.
So, is this the product of genius, or insanity? For one thing, he got Tony Curtis to 'host' the film, so some people must've had faith in Packard's writing/directorial/acting skills. But, there's also the fact that a good chunk of the movie (well over an hour) is Packard's main character, the 400-pound watch-salesman Bob, getting barked at by dogs and yelled at by everyone from yuppies to crackheads.
I would say the ideas present here rival David Lynch or David Cronenberg for sheer off-the-wall weirdness and surrealism. But then, there are the voice overdubs (mostly by Packard) which are bad to the point of being alarming.
Basically, Packard is no doubt somewhere in between genius and insane person. This is what happens when someone with a lot of ideas has free reign to do whatever they please. Maybe you prefer your movies to be filtered through editors, focus groups, censor boards, etc, but I kind of like seeing this guy's art as he intended it to be.
And apparently what it's intended to be is a kaleidoscopic portrait of an obese mostly-homeless guy with an anger problem. His deceased sister (who died of a PCP overdose as a teenager) is back from the afterlife to find him, and that's about it....other than a brief segment featuring a young Steven Spielberg angering some of his crew members...
Yes, there are scenes that are too long (I mean, obviously...it's 3 HOURS) but it's a fair trade because you get stuff like a hippie drug-dealer Jesus figure who lures teenagers with brightly colored bags of pills. Packard also turns the E.T. ride at Universal Studios into a hellish nightmare, and pukes up a whole vat of beef stew.
Clearly he's a weird fellow, but one who has spent his whole life watching and studying movies. He knows what he's doing, and I think he does it pretty well.
VHS photo by Toby Hudson.