Monday, August 10, 2009

Once Upon A Masturbating Gunman in the West



I'd be lying if I said criticism doesn't hurt. No matter who you are, getting praised always beats getting criticized. That's normal.

I've made a handful of movies and all have been praised or criticized. Sometimes I agree with the criticism. Sometimes I don't. I'm not some perfect human creating perfect films. I'm a flawed human working trying to make films that I'd pay to see and come from the heart. Yes, films like this come from my heart, believe it or not.

The criticism that bothers me most is that which just doesn't get, doesn't understand, what I'm doing at all. The critics review what they wanted my film to be, not what it is.

The best case in point I can think of is the reaction to my ultra-low budget The Masturbating Gunman (2000) aka 'Masked Avenger Vs. Ultra-Villain in the Lair of the Naked Bikini'.

Retitled Masked Avenger Vs. Ultra-Villain in the Lair of the Naked Bikini by the nutcases at EI Independent Cinema/Shock-O-Rama Pictures, it was dropped onto the market with a misleading title and equally misleading artwork.

I'm still trying to figure out what a naked bikini is.

I'm not under any delusion that the film is a masterpiece. On the contrary, it's a project Ed Wood might have been attracted to. Hopefully, my version is better than Ed's would have been -- still, it's schlock.

That schlockiness is apparent from the first scene. A masked man, incapable of controlling his sexual urges, masturbates in the presence of a clothed prostitute.

When he cums, the cum splashes across his own face.



The amount of cum is unrealistic and ridiculous.

Despite that, several reviewers commented on the film's "improbable masturbation scenes". Reviewers also questioned why director Mark Savage (me!) presumed that men would "enjoy watching another man masturbate when most viewers of the movie wanted to see naked women."

One angry reviewer wrote: "I came to see a naked bikini and all I saw was a masturbating deviate shooting gobs of cum at his enemies. What a rip-off!"

The most predictable criticism was of the acting. If reviewers didn't get the film, they attacked the acting -- "over the top", "Z-grade", "less than subtle", stupid".

Some, like Greg Beck from the Death's Door, The View From The Spanish Announcers Table blog are a little more balanced with a welcome sense of humor.

Last night I saw shit I’ve never seen before. The Monday movie, The Masked Avenger Versus Ultra Villain In The Lair Of The Naked Bikini was some fucked up shit. Just fuckin wrong I tell you. The acting was bad, the women were mugugly and the way the Masked Avenger went about his shit both amazed me and angered me. It’s like this, no matter what the muthafucker was doing, running or fighting or whatever. If he saw what he thought was an attractive women or a nice pair of panties, he’d stop in his tracks and start beating off something fierce.


He’d beat off so hard he’d always fall down, which for some reason kept pissing me off, there’d be this thick stream of white liquid going all over his clothes and face. The first time we saw it everyone watching lost their muthafuckin minds.


At the very end the villain was thwarting his every move by throwing nekked women in his path so that he’d have to stop every time and beat the monkey until he was finally spent. (Spent, that’s a good word) The Masked Avenger was trying to save his sister the pious Nun who had been kidnapped by the Ultra Villain to be used as a vessel to carry his dastardly man seed till a son was born.




But his efforts to save her were to be naught because he was all blown out from jackin off so much. But as a last ditch effort his sister the pious Nun parted her legs and let the Masked Avenger see her red panties of power. And I swear to God the muthafucker beat off so hard that not only did he kill all the evil henchmen by death from ejaculation, which was just the most fucked up shit to see...

... but he blew out his man meat in the process and it came off in his hand.

And that ended up being hung from the neck of a limping goat, and no, I won’t explain farther.



Grown men and women, no matter how hip we think we are shouldn’t have to view a movie where the hero’s best move is ejaculating sperm farther then I can throw.




I decided to write about this subject today because I came across a review (this week) in which the reviewer totally got the film, and reviewed it for what it was.

Ironically, I found it on a site with shinola (a euphemism for shit) in the title. Unfortunately, I saved the review and lost the link.

The reviewer is not credited in the review which is pasted below:

THE MASKED AVENGER VS. ULTRAVILLAIN IN

THE LAIR OF THE NAKED BIKINI

Directed by Mark Savage (Shock-O-Rama/Alternative Cinema)

Oh my stars and garters. Let's see if I can get through the plot of this straight-to-video wonder with a straight face. The Masked Avenger is a hero for hire, a large killing machine in coveralls and a black vinyl mask who's as deadly in unarmed combat as he is with an automatic pistol. He also possesses the uncanny ability to assess a (female) kidnap victim's situation with one deep inhalation of her panties...



... and he can also track a woman anywhere using the same method, making him a favorite of worried husbands.


He's better known, however, as the Masturbating Gunman (or, since this was filmed in Australia, perhaps that should be the Masturbayting Ganm'n), due to his near-crippling weakness—the sight of a beautiful woman acting even the teeniest bit titillating sends him into uncontrollable wanking ("My master wouldn't let me touch or even see a woman for ten years—that's why I'm in this hell!" he explains to his apprentice).


He's basically helpless until he ejaculates a huge amount of jizz that looks remarkably like watered-down Elmer's glue. I'm not making this up. The plot (and there is one, believe it or not) gets rolling when a German megalomaniac named Helmut Gunta is released from prison; he promptly hightails it to his compound, where he instructs his rather dimwitted henchmen to find him a virgin to impregnate, so that his "pure" and "perfect" son can rule the word as the new Messiah.




Just how this is going to eventually happen is never explained; then again, the guy is crazy. Anyway, the only virgin the boys can find is, naturally, a nun, who just happens to be the sister of the M.G.


She's smart enough to leave her panties behind for the M.G. to find, and the chase is on.

The M.G. finds Gunta's lair, intending to invade and rescue his sis—but the German madman has a few half-naked surprises borrowed from a local strip joint in store...and so does the crafty (and not so virginal) nun...

Still with me? Believe it or not, there are several things that make this ludicrous film worth watching, if only once. First of all, don't worry, you never actually see the big lug jerking off. He's always shown from the chest up; all you ever see is the, um, by-product of his furious self-abuse (the one time the camera accidentally pans over his pelvis he's actually shaking his fist about six inches in front of his clad crotch). Secondly, though it was shot on video, it looks quite good, and director Savage does his best to make some scenes look, well, artful.


Thirdly, the cast is made up of pretty decent actors, and they take the script fairly seriously (well, they do their lines with deadpan professionalism, at any rate). The guy playing Gunta is particularly good, playing a nutcase with a God complex with just the right balance of controlled menace and wild-eyed dementia.

The good thing about the players' straightfaced performances is that it brings out the humor in the script without having to beat the viewer over the head with the gags.

For example, after giving his henchmen instructions to find him a virgin or face the hideous consequences, Gunta calmly announces, "Now, I'm going fishing this weekend. When I bring back my catch, you'd better bring me yours!" Later, while trying to seduce the nun, he discovers she has no underpants (having left them behind as a clue for the Gunman). After expressing disgusted perplexity as to why a nun would have no underwear, he tells his henchman, "Now I can't take off her panties. You know I live for that!"


There's lots more, of course, including appallingly fake guts ripped out of hapless underlings, lots of shots of the beautiful Australian coastline...


... a totally unrelated digression involving the M.G. 's crippled apprentice and his goats...


... and, of course, a few Aussie lovelies shedding their clothes to distract the M.G. from his mission. Somebody somewhere thought to themselves, "Isn't it time to make the ultimate straight-to-vid cult film?" That may have been a question left unanswered, but if you see a brave attempt, or at least have your mind boggled for 90 minutes, rent this flick.

Incidentally, while T.M.A.V.U.I.T.L.O.T.N.B. was shot in Australia, it was written and co-produced by a Japanese screenwriter. Somehow it doesn't surprise me that the artistic minds of the country that gave (inflicted upon?) us the notorious Rapeman series would also come up with the notion of a mercenary who also happens to be a chronic masturbator. Is it just me, or do them Japanese have issues?








After working for close to a year on a feature-length, behind-the-scenes doco on Jackie Chan's Mr. Nice Guy, I needed to do something very different.

I gathered my usual crew and went into production on The Masturbation Gunman. It was one of the most pleasant experiences of my career so far. Once the tone was established (everything would be played deadly serious), the laughter between takes never ended.

I still recall vividly co-producer Evie Jurinec lugging in buckets and buckets of fake cum for the final assault scene. We used soy milk, potatoes from KFC, skim milk powder, and various thinners and thickeners.

It was a pleasure to see my brother Colin (a very good character actor) embrace the role of 'Henry', the Gunman's eager, tragic apprentice.

Robin Brennan, who played the chronic masturbator so skilfully, endured incredible facial pain and headaches caused by the latex mask that needed to cling so tightly to his skull.

Theater-trained Peter Beitans, who played the crazy 'Helmut Gunta', nailed his character perfectly, and managed to make him lovable as well as hissable.

Nene Powell, who played 'Sister Mary', kept a very open mind, and pretty quickly joined in the spirit of the shoot.

The film was financially handicapped from the beginning, so a decision was made to play it seriously but retain the fun. Even though it featured a lot of masturbation, an orgy with Sister Mary at its center (there IS a good reason for her initiating this), and a sequence in which The Masturbating Gunman is saved from exhaustion by a Little Girl, I didn't want to blanket the film in darkness. The comedy would not have worked that way.

Under the trying circumstances, DOP David Richardson did a great job with the lighting and images, and composer Bryony Marks turned in what I still consider to be an amazingly complex score.

I went through three other composers before Bryony came to the rescue. One composer refused to score the film after he saw it; another couldn't capture the tone I wanted.

Bryony was set to score my next film, Sensitive New Age Killer, but due to politics outside my control, she was replaced after scoring what I thought were some excellent rough drafts.

Made chiefly for the Japanese market, The Masturbating Gunman has not been widely distributed.

Just a month ago, a comic book company asked me if I'd be interested in licensing the property to them with a view to creating a graphic novel.

I'll see what happens. This is Hollywood afterall.


***
John Bowen of Rue-Morgue Magazine was the first
reviewer to get the movie.

12 comments:

  1. I don't know what to say, but it looks fantastic!

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  2. Ninja -- I guess it's a little different. Thanks for reading.

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  3. Bryony is a good mate of mine - I remember when she was working on this one. I'm sure she'd be pleased to her you're still singing her praises years later!

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  4. Lord Vader -- What a small world, Lord. Bryony was fantastic to work with, and I truly think she is one of the best Aussie composers around.

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  5. How the hell did you get left out of Not Quite Hollywood? It's a damn oversight I say! Gunman and Marauders are two of the trashiest no-budget films I have seen and I like them both quite well.

    Had you seen any of the Female Ninja Magic Chronicles movies prior to making TMG? The premise of each of those films is that these ninja gals--each with a special power like acid breastmilk or deadly vagina bubbles--always save the day.

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  6. I was half kidding--not because you didn't deserve at least a mention but because the doc barely touched on anything past the mid-80s. But, hell, films like Defenceless, Bloodlust, Salt, Saliva, Sperm, & Sweat are all just as audacious as any Ozploitation that went before (I would say quite a bit moreso, actually).

    There are indeed good versions available of the Female Ninja films. I am not sure whether or not they have subs tho, but since the Weissers have already created them for their old bootlegs it is a simple matter to transcribe. They are goofy films but I reckon anything with Vagina Bubbles of Death needs to be seen at least once.

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  7. d -- How did I get left out of NQH?

    I suspect I know why, but I won't air personal trash here. The Aussie mentality (of some) is a funny thing.

    I haven't seen FEMALE NINJA MAGIC CHRONICLES. Are there good versions available? I'd really like to.

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  8. i would like to know if T.M.G will ever come out on dvd in the USA.
    it's a hope of mine.

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  9. will the masturbating gunman ever hit dvd in the USA?

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  10. anthony -- it's up to me, I guess. I recently looked at a master and there was some damage to it. I'd need to collect a couple of masters and marry them.

    Nobody has license to it right now.

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    Replies
    1. thanks for the news MR.savage. I disappointed to know but i'm looking to your future
      projects.

      Delete
    2. I was doing some digging around and could not find anything on Haruki Koto.
      Do you know anything about it? And do you know anything about what else Mr.Koto
      has done?

      Delete