When you’ve made one of the greatest bad movies ever at your first attempt, what else is there to do? Well, the simple answer is to write, produce, direct, co-edit, do makeup and craft services for a movie where you play God, visiting Earth to check on your creation. I didn’t think it was possible to beat “Double Down”, one of the most unvarnished glimpses into a single person’s psyche that film has ever given us, but I reckon Neil Breen has managed it here. With less focus on himself as an actor (there are even a few scenes he’s not in at all) he’s freer to…well, I’ve still not got any idea what he did.
The ISCFC, as you may have noticed, covers a pretty random selection of movies – although mainly horror franchises, kung fu, and sci-fi – but our first love is so-bad-it’s-good (the reason we don’t do more is, chances are one of the professionally smug Youtube guys will have got to it first, and forever tainted it). I read “The Golden Turkey Awards” when I was a teenager and at the same time as watching whatever arthouse cinema I could get my hands on, I’d spend a (relative) fortune on VHS tapes of “Plan Nine From Outer Space”, “Rat Pfink A-Boo-Boo” and so on. I’ve seen a good amount of those “worst movie ever” movies (I still ponder “Demon Cop” from time to time), so hopefully you’ll trust me when I say Neil Breen is deserving of his place at the very highest / lowest levels of…well, something. He’s a complete one-off, and I want to celebrate his career with you.
It starts off with what might be a second moon, exploding and creating life on Earth, or maybe it’s just an image of the glass ball found in the middle of the salt flats (clearly supposed to look like it arrived from space, but from no further away than a cheesy Vegas gift shop). It’s never stated, but the best guess is, it’s supposed to be the craft that THE BEING arrived on. Wearing a billowy white shirt and nothing else, The Being gets down off a cross (wounds in the hands and feet, a genuine jaw-dropping moment) and into the desert and…it’s confusing right from the beginning. The camera focuses in nice and tight on Neil Breen’s face as he scans the environment, and in the intervening years since “Double Down”, he appears to have gotten worse as an actor. His lack of presence, a complete blankness, no emotion at all, still manages to be surprising.
There are a heck of a lot of confusing things about this scene. Firstly, as he scans the horizon, his face changes between his normal face and a sort of weird gorilla-corpse face with long dark hair. This happens about five or six times during the course of 90 minutes, and no explanation is ever given as to why. Secondly, briefly here at the beginning and again at the end, he’s seen with bits of an old computer motherboard glued to his body. So he’s a robo-gorilla-zombie-space-Jesus? Cool. As he walks through the desert, he encounters a lot of plastic doll heads stuck into the dirt, which he must have put there deliberately, but I’ve got absolutely no idea why, and I’ve thought about this film a lot.
After meeting a couple of junkies out in the desert, stealing their clothes, then freezing them and turning them invisible (it didn’t make any sense to me either), The Being is off to see what’s become of the world he created. An early line is “I’m disappointed in your species”, closely followed with “the human species”, because the shot he used had a plastic spider in it, and he wanted to make sure we knew he was cool with spiders.
To call this movie heavy-handed is almost an insult to heavy-handed things. He shows a loop of stock footage dozens of times – a wind farm, a solar panel farm, a pile of bribe money being counted, then some pollution. The Being really likes renewable energy, as does this movie, and they’re going to tell you a tale so horrible that you’ll be crying out for it too. But first, you’ll need to sit through a lot of driving, as Breen once again shows us Las Vegas from the driving seat of the junkie’s stolen truck – he also sleeps in the back, much the same as in “Double Down”. In terms of directorial fetishes, it’s up there with the great Coleman Francis and his love of skydiving, coffee and abject human misery.
This all happens in the first 20 minutes, and I’ve barely scraped the plot yet. It’s wonderful! But I must be careful. There’s a lot to get through and I need to make it clear for you, but not spoil so much that you don’t want to watch it yourselves. And you really ought to watch this yourselves! Right, first up is a group of women who work for an environmental research company. These women appear able to act, which indicates Breen was sick that day and a competent director was briefly hired – anyway, due to Government cuts, they’re all being laid off. With some of the worst dialogue ever written for humans to speak, they all discuss how it’s the fault of big business and the Government, with kickbacks and bribes to ensure fossil fuels keep making profit for the multinationals.
(Aside: I agree with this, by and large. We need to get off fossil fuel as quickly as possible, and it upsets me that movies like this and “Birdemic” are on my side)
One of the young lady scientists is then seen, a little later, walking her baby (which is, lest we forget, a plastic doll with little attempt made to disguise that fact) alongside her twin sister. Non-identical, although they wear exactly the same style of top, just different colours. I need to name them, I guess, so we’ll go for hair colour – Blonde and Brunette (although they’re pretty similar). Blonde complains that she’s not got a job and needs to support her baby, and Brunette says “why not become a stripper, and then an escort? Plenty of money in it”. I get the feeling that Neil Breen doesn’t really understand women all that well, or perhaps just humans, if he thinks a reasonable thing to do would be to go from environmental science to prostitution in how long? A day? The weird thing isn’t that it’s suggested – okay, it is pretty weird – but that Blonde agrees to it so quickly.
Back to them in a minute. The other main side of the plot is the men, and we see the fossil fuel people bribing a Congressman. He ensures the law is changed to cut funding for science, then when they need another favour from him later, they bribe him with a couple of prostitutes. Because they’re so difficult to come by and expensive to hire in Las Vegas! Of course, the two hookers are our sisters, and Blonde seems very happy with taking her clothes off for money now. This is perhaps the least erotic scene designed to be erotic ever – the ladies take their top off (shot from behind), then are pictured giggling and covering their boobs, then lying face down on lilos, and never at any point seen engaging in any sexual activity or even touching their “john”. They’re also filmed walking backwards into the pool, which looked super-awkward, when a more sensible director might have just filmed them from behind, walking forwards. Whatever.
The location of the hooker centre is pretty unusual. Next to a couple of extremely derelict buildings in a desolate area, a couple of guys with guns stand guard over…nothing, while a group of potential customers just mill about in the middle of the street, as if they’re waiting for someone to turn up and decide to give a career in prostitution a try. One of the men is the Congressman from earlier, so seeing a famous local politician stand next to a bombed-out store, cheering on a knife fight between two criminals in the middle of the day, is at best a troubling image.
Here’s where things get really weird (I feel like I’ve said this loads of times already). After a brief break to show both sisters are now hard drug addicts, to forget the details of the profession they joined willingly, the movie sort of forgets about Blonde (not entirely, though). Brunette is then shown…getting fired from her environmental activist job, and deciding on becoming a prostitute? What the hell? Why didn’t she at least offer to get Blonde a job in her environmental place, if both sisters were in the same line of work? Did Neil Breen just forget which sister he’d filmed earlier? Anyway, Brunette’s boyfriend is murdered by the pimps, and she’s then visited by The Being, who decides to help her out.
I can’t even really talk about how he kills a bunch of people for pretty minor stuff; how everyone uses the fakest cheapest looking plastic guns; the sex scene; or how he heals a guy in a wheelchair, de-ages him by about 50 years, then fixes him up, Cupid-style, with Blonde; because this review will become as long to read as it was to watch. But he does crucify the bad politicians, lawyers and businessmen before heading back to the salt flats, unfreezing and converting the junkies to the side of the angels then heading back to wherever he came from. This, of course, makes no sense. I’ll leave you with a couple of points to ponder.
One would think, if he created the world, then he deserves some of the blame for how it turned out. Perhaps, next time you build a planet, check back a little more often than once every 2 million years? If I build a car that blows up on its second journey, it’s probably not the car’s fault. But robo-gorilla-zombie-space-Jesus is perfect in every way, so it can’t be his.
We see him, at several points, giving magic pep talks to people. This is a good thing, obviously, but the way a movie not made by a madman would do it is to show them at the end, changed by the pep talk and making the world a better place. All Breen does is crucify a bunch of people then say, to no-one, “I’ll be back soon, and if you’ve not shaped up, I’ll kill you all and start again”. I can’t help but think if God was actually like that, there’d be significantly fewer Christians.
I’m not sure if this is crazier than “Double Down” or not. Whereas DD had no story, and was just a man in the desert eating tuna and typing into broken laptops, this at least attempts a narrative. Of course, it fails utterly, but I think it’s safe to call this one a tie. Both movies are absolutely bonkers, in slightly different ways, and are among the most wretched things ever released. And 100% worth watching. And one last thing – check out that four-dot ellipsis! It’s such a tiny thing but it’s so irritating, and is a good argument for not letting people just make and release their own movies. Quality control is a sadly lost art.
Rating: thumbs up