May 28, 2015

“Criminally Insane”

Screw deluded fat acceptance morons, it has been my personal experience that the most cunty, ruthless, hateful, and just plain evil women I have ever met were also lard asses that no normal man would touch with a ten foot pole, thus I consider a loudmouthed female ogre to be an infinitely more horrifying villain than a beauteous femme fatale who manipulates men for her own personal gain.  After all, at least the predatory femme fatale gives her male victims a good blowjob or two before throwing him under the bus.  Undoubtedly, as demonstrated by the fact that Kathy Bates won both the Academy Award for Best Actress and a Golden Globe for her career-jumpstarting role as a psychopathic plus-size she-bitch in Misery (1990) demonstrates, I do not think I am the only person that finds extra chubby chicks to be extra creepy villains. When I was about ten or eleven, I could not help but rent a VHS tape with the overtly sensational title Crazy Fat Ethel featuring a morbidly obese killer on the cover, not realizing the film was actually an innately inferior sequel/remake of a superlatively sleazy piece of work entitled “Criminally Insane” (1975) directed by pornographer turned offbeat genre ‘auteur’ Nick Millard (Fräulein Leather, Satan's Black Wedding) under the pseudonym ‘Nick Philips.’ Directed by a man who managed the career of his own octogenarian porn star mother Frances ‘the oldest living porn actress’ Millard (who incidentally acted as the producer of the film and many of Millard’s other works and is probably best known for starring in gerontophiliac fuck flicks with titles like The Ultimate Granny Gang Bang (2000) and 92 and Still Banging (2000)), “Criminally Insane” is indubitably pure and unadulterated unmitigated trash with sass and a scrumptious sicko sense of humor that reminds trash cinephiles why they watch celluloid sleaze in the first place. Set in a sort of alternate post-counterculture white trash universe where less than pretty pussy-peddlers, elderly senile Johns, effeminate pimp would-be-actors, delinquent foul-mouthed delivery boys, cynical cops, and morbidly obese mass murderesses reign, Millard’s shockingly penetrating gutter grade low-camp photoplay feels like it was directed by a genuine dirtbag and pimp who lives off the suffering of others. Indeed, the lead anti-heroine is a grotesquely fat unhinged bitch who certainly looks the part she plays, but somewhat ironically the character somehow makes deranged obese dames seem vaguely likeable, at least in a sort of novelty sense that makes you forget that ‘fativism’ clowns exist. Featuring special effects that make the mostly worthless works of Hebraic exploitation hack Herschell Gordon Lewis almost seem Hollywood-esque and unexpected ‘artistic’ pretense, including a bizarrely entrancing psychedelic dream-sequence that could have only dreamed up by a decidedly deluded film director who has somehow convinced himself that he is an authentic ‘artiste’ following in the poetically macabre footsteps of F.W. Murnau (indeed, maestro Millard has credited Nosferatu (1922) as being one of the biggest influences on his horror films), “Criminally Insane” is unequivocally one of the few true ‘masterpieces’ of authentic exploitation cinema, as a marvelously morally retarded work that is nearly immaculate in its innate ineptness and gritty celluloid scumminess. Of course, one must also not forget that Millard’s film is probably the only film of its conspicuously kitschy kind that features a Hebrew-hating killer who trusts her Jewish doctor even less than an elderly Israeli lawyer trusts Herr Doktor Josef Mengele, thereupon making for a rare ‘horror-comedy’ that lacks a kosher flavor while still managing to be completely and utterly morally bankrupt. 

 As Jewish mental hospital head Dr. Gerard (Cliff McDonald) tells worried white trash polack grandmother Mrs. Janowski (Jane Lambert of Brian De Palma’s The Fury (1978)) regarding his concerns about releasing her morbidly obese whack-job granddaughter, “Your granddaughter’s case is a very strange one, Mrs. Janowski. Severe paranoid manifestations, long periods of depression, violent outbursts. Quite frankly, it’s against my better judgment that she is being released.” Indeed, lard ass lunatic Ethel Janowski (Millard regular Priscilla Alden) has received electric shock therapy and has spent much time isolated in a padded cell with a straitjacket, yet her main complaint regarding her stint in the mental hospital is that they are not giving her enough food, or as she later complains to her granny like a true paranoiac, “Did you know they tried to kill me? That goddamn Jew doctor gave them orders not to give me enough to eat. Two lousy boiled eggs and a piece of dry toast for breakfast. They were trying to save money and starve me while they were at it.” After Fat Ethel is released under the condition that she comes to four weekly appointments for electric shock therapy, her grandmother expresses her moronic sense of optimism by stating, “Everything is going to be fine again, I know it will.” When Ethel gets home and immediately fries an entire package of bacon and about a dozen eggs to celebrate her untimely release from the loony bin and her grandmother comes downstairs and remarks, “A person is never too old to watch her figure,” it becomes quite clear that the two wacky women will eventually bump heads and one of them might even literally lose their head. When her grandmother remarks that she needs to lose some weight because being fat is unhealthy for her heart, Ethel quasi-poetically replies, “My heart is just fine as long as my stomachs not empty.” 

 Not surprisingly, things take a considerably nasty turn for the worst in the Janowski home when Ethel comes downstairs in the middle of the night to get a midnight snack and discovers that there is no food in the refrigerator and all of the food has been locked inside a cabinet by her grandma. When her grandmother wakes up and comes downstairs to find her granddaughter attempting to open the lock on the cabinet by stabbing it with a butcher knife in a quite ferocious fashion, she asks her what she is doing and Fat Ethel cries, “What’s the idea of locking up all the food?” Needless to say, when her granny firmly declares, “We’ll have no fresh meat or milk until you learn to curb your appetite,” Ethel becomes exceedingly enraged, chases Mrs. Janowski from behind while yelling, “You and that heeb are trying to starve me again. Well, you’re not going to do it,” and literally stabs her in the back with the butcher knife. Although dead, the key to the cupboard is locked in Mrs. Janowski’s hand via a death grip, so Ethel proceeds to frantically stab her dead grandma’s hand while repeatedly shouting “I want that key” like a disgruntled child throwing a temper tantrum. After managing to free the key from her granny’s cold dead hand, Fat Ethel naturally proceeds to gorge on junk food and even leaves her grandparents corpse in the same spot in a pool of blood until the next day. Indeed, aside from being a rather rotund and equally intemperate wench with the self-discipline of a rabid autistic toddler, Ethel is lazy as hell, which will ultimately lead to her inevitable downfall. 

 Since both she and her dead granny have no source of income aside from meager unemployment benefits, Ethel finds herself in serious trouble when it comes to procuring food, so when she places a huge order over the phone with a local grocery store that she owes money to and the delivery boy arrives with the goods and refuses to give them to her since she only has $4.50 for an order that is $80, she hilariously hits the teen over the head with a liquor bottle and then proceeds to stab him to death with the now broken bottle. Literally right after killing the ill-fated delivery boy, Ethel’s sub-homely hooker sister Rosalie (Lisa Farros) randomly shows up at the house and asks if she can crash there for the next couple of days. Being a drug-addled degenerate that peddles her pussy for a living to dirty old men and dates an abusive fellow that regularly beats her, Rosalie is naturally not the least bit concerned when she notices a pool of blood on the floor of the house, not to mention the fact she does not ask her super big sis for much information about her MIA grandmother’s whereabouts. Ethel clearly has no sense of solidarity with her family as demonstrated by the fact that she seems completely disinterested when Rosalie states to her, “I guess she’s better off sleeping with that little brown man than being drunk all the time,” in regard to the fact that their mother is living with a dubious Filipino man. Additionally, when Rosalie begins bringing back Johns to the house in the middle of the night who fondle her breasts in plain view, Ethel merely finds the situation to be mildly humorous. 

 Despite the fact that she warned Ethel to tell him that she never wants to see him again if he ever showed up at the house, Rosalie soon brings her low-life would-be-actor/pimp beau John (Michael Flood) to live at the house. As is quite apparent by her senseless behavior, Rosalie is more concerned over the fact that John previously left her for an older woman than the fact he routinely beats her. As John explains to Rosalie before they have ‘makeup sex’ as to why he beats her, “Rosalie, I'm gonna tell you the truth for once, okay? You need a good beating every once in a while. All women do. And you especially.” Meanwhile, Dr. Gerard decides to pay Fat Ethel an unexpected visit since she has been ignoring his calls and has missed her electric shock therapy sessions, so the anti-heroine naturally murders him and then locks his corpse in her grandmother’s room where she has placed all the other corpses. When Rosalie laughs at John while watching him put on makeup and remarks, “I’m sorry…I’ve seen a lot of things but never a man putting on makeup,” the petty gutter grade pimp becomes enraged and smacks the shit out of her while calling her a “stupid whore.” Of course, as demonstrated by the fact that they are depicted jovially snorting cocaine together in the next scene of the film, the two zany lovebirds do not stay mad at each other for long. As Rosalie explains to her sister regarding her and her beau’s nose candy, “It’s a nasal medicine the doctor prescribed. Both John and I have sinuses.” Somewhat fittingly, it is ultimately their noses that lands Rosalie and John into serious trouble. 

 The same night a police officer named Detective McDonough (George ‘Buck’ Flower of Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS (1975) and John Carpenter’s They Live (1988)) comes by the house asking questions about the delivery boy that Ethel had murdered for $80 worth of food, Rosalie and John find that they are unable to sleep due to the putrid stench of rotting corpses emanating from Grandma Janowski’s room, so they make the unwitting mistake of complaining to the whacked out woman responsible for the odious odors. Naturally, Ethel thinks that John is getting a little bit too nosy for his own good, so she brutally slaughters him with a hatchet while he is asleep, thus causing Rosalie to wake up and scream in abject terror in the process. Of course, Fat Ethel is forced to liquidate her sister as well, though that does not stop her from continuing to talk to her after she is dead and say sassy things to her corpse like, “I know you want to be alone. Sometimes I can hear you. I know what you were doing with John, Rosalie.” In a scene that hints at necrophilia, Ethel is featured laughing hysterically while lying next to John’s corpse in bed in a scenario that eventually turns into a strange pseudo-artsy dream-sequence that features psychedelic murder scenes (including scenes of Ethel hacking away at what is clearly a cheap mannequin sans wig), shots of a graveyard, and the deranged anti-heroine dressed like a glamorous diva in a pink dress. While Fat Ethel finally gets enough common sense and motivation to dispose of her corpses by dismembering them, putting them in trash bags, and driving them to an oceanside cliff where she plans drop them off, a group of pesky tourist taking photographs ruin her plans and she is forced to bring the body parts back home. While tirelessly hauling the bags of body parts back into her dilapidated home, Ethel carelessly leaves some of the parts in her unlocked truck and it does not take long for a busybody neighbor to discover a dismembered hand upon examining the car. Of course, Detective McDonough soon comes to arrest Ethel, but he is in for quite a surprise when he finds his suspect gnawing on a dismembered arm, thus causing him to cry out, “My god.” 

 As a shot-on-video piece of patently pointless trash where no less than ¼ of the film seems to be comprised of footage from the previous film, the “Criminally Insane” sequel Criminally Insane 2 (1987) aka Crazy Fat Ethel 2 is nothing but a sad joke that is not even worthy of being described as a cheap novelty by fans of the original film.  In fact, anti-auteur Nick Millard would reuse the credits and kill scenes from his magnum opus in a number of his subsequent shot-on-video sub-schlock works, including such singularly worthless efforts as Death Nurse (1987), Death Nurse 2 (1988), and Doctor Bloodbath (1987). Naturally, Millard would also continue working with the same actors, including “Criminally Insane” star Priscilla Alden and when the director was asked in an interview with the curiously named horror film review site The Liberal Dead why he chose to do this, he gave the startlingly pretentious reply, “So I like using the same people. Again and again. Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the German director, did the same thing...” As can be expected from any cult horror film that even has the most pathetically marginal of followings, a remake entitled Crazy Fat Ethel (2015) directed by a fellow named Brian Dorton (Trashology, Theatre of the Deranged) is set to be released sometime this year, though it is an indisputable fact that no film can recapture the distinct putrid post-counterculture trash essence of Millard's original film. Indeed, “Criminally Insane” is like a Warhol era Paul Morrissey flick as directed by an apolitical smut-peddler who still unwittingly manages to demonstrate how degenerate America has become since so-called women’s liberation and counterculture movements helped the Baby boomers further rationalize their pseudo-individualism and nihilistic hedonism. Indeed, 250 pound beastess Ethel is just another hopeless moron inspired by the hippie weltanschauung that, if it feels good you should do it, albeit she just takes her self-absorption a step or two further. Of course, considering her flagrant anti-Semitism, one would think that Fat Ethel would know better and not embrace a Reichian/Marcusian approach to eating, but not everyone is perfect. In terms of films about resentful tubs of quasi-female lard, you certainly cannot do better than “Criminally Insane”, but considering that over half of Americans are ‘overweight’ (aka fat asses), I suspect that subsequent generations will find the film less funny and easy to relate to.  After all, the Occident is so decadent nowadays that it now has a growing collective of politically active social justice lard asses known as the so-called ‘fat acceptance movement’ who actively promote unhealthy physiques and lifestyles in a pathetic attempt to rationalize their aversion to exercising and sensible eating. Somewhat tragically, if not surprisingly, “Criminally Insane” star Priscilla Alden—a true outsider actress whose performance in Millard's film makes Shirley Stoler's character in The Honeymoon Killers (1969) seem rather lightweight and who would have indubitably made a great John Waters superstar as the the more demented daughter of Edith Massey—died of complications from diabetes at the age of 68 on 24 August 2007.  Obviously, her performances in Millard's films did not scare Alden straight about her weight and inspire her to take a more healthy approach to life, but at least she has been immortalized as the most deranged plus-size dime store diva of cinema history.

-Ty E


Anonymous said...

I didn't think Doctor Bloodbath was that bad, at least compared to the rest of Nick's post-1970s work. Of course, I'm probably just saying that because I find the concept of a film about an abortionist who becomes an insane serial killer due to being cuckolded by his bitch wife amusing.

Tony Brubaker said...

Just as Heather was immortalized as THE most gorgeous liitle darlin` who ever lived.

Debbie Rochon said...

I thought that fat slag was Divines sister ! ! !.

Tony Brubaker said...

The bird who played her sister was actually quite a tasty bird, i was really jealous of the geezer who groped her tits.