Oh Wicked Wisconsin Wednesdays. You’re over, and it feels might sad. Over the past ten months or so, I watched a variety of movies, short films, fake films and anthologies. From the astoundingly good through to the astoundingly bad, I made it through all of these movies from beginning to end (well, nearly). I am certain I’ve missed something along the way, but 37 WEEKS! That’s more than half a year’s worth of movie watching.
When I watched my first movie, The Giant Spider Invasion, I watched the MST3K version, thinking I wouldn’t be able to get through such a terrible movie by myself. Little did I know that this Bill Rebane classic would look like motherfucking Orson Welles after some of this shit I put myself through.
The idea of came to me when I arrived in the UK with my new visa. The few months I was back in Wisconsin, I was virtually stranded without a car or friends to hangout with. But strangely enough, I missed it as soon as I touched ground back in London. Each movie I watched was either filmed in this great Midwestern state or set there. Most of the time it was both.
But when I started, I thought of only touching on those movies explicitly set in Wisconsin. I never expected that things would go on for this long. There were several different points in which I thought the end was looming near. What I thought was going to be about six or seven movies, well, ended up with a nice round 37. But one important thing this project has taught me is that there are so many resources out there to find movies. And a very, very special source had to be Brian Albright’s book Regional Horror Films 1958 – 1990: A State-by-State Guide with Interviews. Albright’s book is fantastic and worth picking up if you too want to drive yourself insane with strange films.
As the movie well has pretty much run dry, I thought I would make this week a wrap-up of the highs and lows. Wicked Wednesdays will return to its old format – being whatever the hell I want it to be. Finding things to write about will certainly be easier, but admittedly, it just won’t be the same anymore. But alas, here is the big ending to Wicked Wisconsin Wednesdays:
Best Original Song:
Third place: Whatever Tiny Tim is singing in Blood Harvest
Runner up: “Walk With Me” by Pat Hopkins from Bog
Winner: “Sensuous Tiger” by The Friends from The Capture of Bigfoot
Bill Rebane loves to include a good dance scene in his movies. It helps pad the film up to that 90 minute mark and cuts down on the “running around in the woods” footage. The Friends’ song “Sensuous Tiger” is a really awful semi-disco tune with some fabulously strained vocals. But it’s incredibly catchy song that (unfortunately) doesn’t like to leave your head once it’s stuck there. Sing it with me, “SPREAD MY WINGS I KNOW I CAN FLYYYYY!”
Top 5 actually good movies:
5. American Movie
One of the best documentaries I have ever seen full stop. American Movie followed Mark Borchardt while he attempted to make his short-film Coven. It’s slightly painful to watch at times, but it’s also a fantastic picture of a man trying to make his (American) dream come true.
I had a lot of fun reviewing this one, and I was really glad to have the pleasure to watch this. It’s a pretty typical “girl gets pregnant meets boy who wants her to pretend to be woman who’s actually dead so they can kill her and raise her baby as a vampire demon” story. But jokes aside. this is actually a weird little movie, but it has a pretty fun twist at the end that make it all the more enjoyable. This was surprisingly one of the more difficult movies to find. I eventually bought it on DVD, and I’m really glad to see it sitting up on my shelf.
3. Dead Weight
You know the saying “They just don’t make them how they used to”? Well, I think a lot of people apply that phrase to horror films more than any other genre. But there are always exceptions, and those exceptions are often, er, exceptional. 2012’s Dead Weight is a subtle little movie. It doesn’t pull any of the tropes you expect, but rather takes you on a really lonely, isolated journey as a man sets off across state to find his girlfriend during a biological attack. Finding this film was a pleasant surprise, and one that I know I’ll be watching again.
2. Blood Hook
Blood Hook probably shouldn’t be described as a “good movie”, but since I watched this movie on week #2, I’m impressed that I can still remember it (nine months is a long time for my poor memory – it doesn’t stretch that far). But this is one of the silliest, most enjoyable movies I watched. This is probably due to the fact that Jim Mallon (later of MST3K fame) directed it and it was produced by some of the twisted minds at Troma.
I love Deranged: The Confessions of a Necrophile. When I first saw the name, I thought I was going to be stuck watching a horrible exploitation movie. But Deranged surprised the hell out of me to the point that it has become a movie that I genuinely love. The acting is fantastic. The humour is twisted. And it really gets the tone right for a movie about one of the darkest Wisconsinites.
The Ed Gein award for best Ed Gein:
Roberts Blossom as Ezra Cobb in Deranged: The Confessions of a Necrophile
Call the character whatever you want. Blossom owns this role.
Top 5 Worst things I had to watch:
5. Invasion from Inner Earth (or They)
Sorry, Bill. But this was a pretty damn forgettable film. While there are usually some charming aspects to many of Rebane’s films, this is the one where I can’t seem to come up with any.
4. Fever Lake
Fever Lake was a victim of it’s own lazy writing and clichéd plot. It’s predictable and often seems to suffer from a strange sort of memory loss. Oh Fever Lake, you forgettable pile of rubbish.
3. The Beast of Bray Road
There will be a running theme here of why these five have made my list. Mostly the era, but also the types of people in them: bros. Just the grossest stereotype. And The Beast of Bray Road is full of them. Plus the added bonus of misogyny!
2. Black Cadillac
Oh Black Cadillac. I’m sure some people will consider you an ‘eh’ movie, but you’re the only film I watched that really made fun of Wisconsinites and for that, I will never, ever forgive you. May you rot forever in movie purgatory.
1. Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plain Field
The only movie out of the 37 that I couldn’t bare to watch all the way through. It’s not difficult to point out why this is so wrong: they cast the totally wrong actor – someone who looks nothing like Ed Gein, they changed Gein’s story, which ultimately is just a massive disrespect to any of the victims, and most of all: this is boring as fuck. So many of the early movies I was watching insisted on making people from Wisconsin have Southern accents. Butcher of Plain Field was also an offender. The thing is, Ed Gein’s story doesn’t need to be made up. It’s a true story that should never have been fucked around with and made into some sort of lame-ass, half-assed tale.
Best (well…) Bill Rebane film:
Probably The Cold (aka The Game) because I can’t say Giant Spider Invasion. That would just make me too cool, probably. Much of The Cold is campy fun. The ending is hilarious, and there are super awkward sexy times in a sauna! Fun for everyone!
Total running time: too fucking long
I’m actually really sad this is done. As new films are released, I might cover them, but I can officially say that Wicked Wisconsin Wednesdays is over. On my very final note for this project, I wanted to say that this turned out to be so much more than watching horrible movies set in the greatest state in the good ol’ US of A. Doing Wicked Wisconsin Wednesday showed my home through a lens that will endlessly fascinate me. Sure most of the films showed Wisconsinites as drunk racists, and many of them are. But so many Wisconsin filmmakers have something special and that’s a whole lot of passion. I think that counts for a whole lot. Which leaves me with only one thing left to say: