Monday, May 25, 2009

Crazy Animal (2007)

Directed by John Birmingham
Starring John Birmingham, Brinke Stevens, Ron Jeremy, Lloyd Kaufman

"I thought she was just, uh...slutted out, or something."

Crazy Animal is not a teen sex comedy, even though it gives you every implication that it is. It does, after all, have tits, cheap gags, hot Euro-chicks, asshole jocks, cheeseball music, and a misunderstood nerdy protagonist. However, its also got rape, murder, cross-dressing, and slaughterhouse footage. By the end, you will be entirely unsure whether you've just watched John Waters directing Revenge of the Nerds, or a gay-themed glam-metal musical. Shot in 2005 for $80,000 by then-film student John Birmingham, this genre-mashing, acid-dipped revenge-flick baits you with classic teenage hijinks up front, and then drags you into a very dark alley and pummels you for a good hour or so. But hey, there's a happy ending!

Crazy Animal opens with Ron Jeremy having a heart attack. So that's a good sign. Jeremy is Ricky's sweaty dad, who offers his young son a little advice before shuffles off to the hereafter: find love, or you'll be living like a crazy animal. And then he dies. That's the first black and white flashback.

The second one involves Troma boss Lloyd Kaufman. Lloyd is Jeff's dad, a banjo-picking evangelical weirdo who's always telling his son to kill people and fuck them in the ass. Troma eventually picked this one up for distribution, so Lloyd must have really enjoyed his spittle-spewing scenes.

So, that stuff happened in the old-timey black and white days. Now we flash-forward to the present, where Henry (Atom Gorelick) finds himself in the middle of a frathouse sex orgy. Henry doesn't actively partake in any of the now-snoozing nookie on display, but he does slip on a condom and masturbate furiously to the scene. Unfortunately the phone rings and wakes up the sex-revelers before he can complete his mission.

We then get to meet Jeff (the dramatically named Steven McClosky II), the frathouse's resident lady-slayer. He looks and sounds as gay as Paul Lynde, but whatever, this is not my universe. Jeff rises from this pile of semi-nude girls on his bed and announces to Henry and their other buddy Chris(Anthony Mongiello) that they have a mission-to-party at some spring break hot spot. And then we get to look at his naked ass for awhile. And not in a comedic Apatow-esque way, either. More of a gay porn-y, Jeff Stryker-eseque way. So that was weird. Especially after all the tits and girl-parts a minute ago.

Anyway, we then meet out protagonist, Ricky (director Birminham). A razor-sideburned, pink-skinned goth-boy with a serious case of the miseries, Ricky flashes-back to happier times with his equally gothy old girlfriend Veronica (Jessel) who was raped one evening by Jeff, and killed herself shortly afterwards. Rocky goes down to the beach and watches the dolphins frolic while a Jesus and Mary Chain-y tune plays on the soundtrack.

Cut to: four girls goofing around, singing into bananas, and plotting revenge on Jeff, who we have now established as a serial rapist. The quartet of lovelies include: Jen (Anise Fuller), Jeff's former girlfriend and accuser; Meese (Danica DeCosta), a happy-go-lucky militant vegan, and Katia (Lene Pedersen, Miss Norway 1991) and Svlena (Maria Zyrianova) the awesomely-accented Eurochicks. I'm not sure how they figure into things, but I am glad they're there.

So Jeff and his gang of creeps show up at the house. The girls, at this point, have staged a mock murder-scene, with Jen brandishing a sword and the slashed Euro-girls hanging from nooses. This freaks the boys out, but only for a minute. I assume there was some reason for this hoodwink, but I think it got lost in translation somewhere.

Anyway, we now cut to Ricky, who is dressed like one of those Steel Panther guys. You know, like a guy satirizing Vince Neil, or something. Ricky slathers on some make-up and rocks out while Jeff and Chris peep in on him. Jen explains at some point that he's dressed this way because jock-rapist types respond to rock n' roll singers in some significant way. Anyway, he's part of the plan.

First though, there's a party to be had. Chris takes a champagne n' tits bath with the Euros. Meese - I'm not sure what happens, but she has some sort of flashback or something that involves really gruesome and heart-rending footage of pigs being slaughtered. Honestly, what the fuck? There's also a subplot about Henry's dad, Peebody (Bryan Kimmel), a high-rolling Hollywood producer who now lives on Whiskey Beach, mourning the death of his wife (Brinke Stevens, who shows up via flashback in a Koala bear costume). So that's going on.

Utilizing spandex-rock to confuse Jeff and Chris, Ricky shoots them with tranquilizers and drags them back to his black-walled hideout. Jen and Meese are there as well, as is half a drugstore's worth of cheap Halloween props. And then everybody tells bits and pieces of their goofy life stories.

Meanwhile, back at the beach house, the Eurochicks have Henry tied to the bed. They have a camera trained on him and are attempted to coerce him into a rape confession. He is not a rapist, however. He's a guy that masturbates into condoms. He does remember that terrible night with Jen and Jeff though, and recounts it for them. And then Svlena tells a puzzling non-story about a fly, and it strikes you that she's so attractive, you'll listen to her drone on about anything in that weird accent of hers, even some dumb fuckin' story about a fly.

And then everything goes wrong at the Halloween house. Blood, murder, insanity, and a surprise guest.

And then there's a Scooby Doo ending, complete with a homeless guy doing the hotdog-in-a-donut thing.

Bizarre by anyone's standards, Crazy Animal's oddball blenderizing of horror, black comedy, slapstick and performance art reminds me a lot of Stephen Sayadian's 1989 Dr. Caligari remake. It might also fit nicely on a bill of Kuchar Brothers flicks. But Troma? Sure, some of the elements are there, but Crazy Animal in no Terror Firmer. Despite the outrageous trappings, this is less of an exploitation movie than it is an experimental film. There is very little logic involved, and the characters all seem as if they drifted in from different movies entirely. I think Birmingham might have a Dali fixation or something. Still, despite its arthouse inclinations, Crazy Animal does have its charms. And they both speak in broken English.

Availability: Crazy Animal is available on DVD.

Link: Crazy Animal official site.

- Ken McIntyre

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