Monday, July 15, 2013

Flaming Creatures

Flaming Creatures
Director: Jack Smith
Starring: Francis Francine, Sheila Bick, Joel Markman, Mario Montez

What… the… fuck.  I mean really.  What the hell is this movie.

From what I can tell, this brief but all too painful film is divided essentially into four acts.  In the first one, people obsessively put on lipstick while a narrator talks about lipstick.  And then penises.  In the second act, a woman (Sheila Bick) is… raped, I guess, and there’s an orgy and an earthquake.  And then penises.  In the third act, a different woman – well, drag queen (Markman) – rises from a coffin and blunders around feeling various penises.  And in the fourth act, aforementioned drag queen dances by spinning around in a circle while a different drag queen (Montez) does a tango.  No penises at the end, actually.

Sound awful?  Yeah, it is.  The film has virtually no lines; all the spoken dialogue is in the first eight minutes or so, and all of it is voiceover.  And has nothing to do with the images we see on the screen, save for the fetishistic sequence where everyone puts on obscene amounts of lipstick.  After that point, director Smith completely throws out the idea of any sort of conversation and we just get images. 

Now, I am not the type of movie fan who absolutely needs a solid narrative all the time – Koyaanisqatsi is proof that a compelling movie can be made without anything resembling a storyline – but I usually require that the images I’m seeing in place of plot must be something special.  And in Flaming Creatures, the images are of such poor quality that the whole experience bellyflops faster than you can say “pornography.”  Apparently, Smith purposely used out-of-date filmstock.  To make a “statement.”  So not only do we have bizarre acts being shown that are not tied together in any way whatsoever, you are now straining to make out what is actually going on (even though none of it really matters) because the film itself is decomposing.

There’s a joke in there somewhere about this movie being so bad that the actual filmstock tried to destroy itself, I know there is…

What staggers me most is that when I read the entry for Flaming Creatures in 1001 Movies, it positively waxed rhapsodic about the “beautiful” “gauzy” images, how the film is essentially a feast for the eyes… wait, WHAT?  Flaming Creatures isn’t so much “beautiful” as it is “barely coherent,” and I mean that in the visual sense, not even the narrative sense.  We blur in and out, get too much white and then too much black in the shots, and the whole thing just feels messy, as if Smith set up the camera and then left the room and one of his drunken friends took over while everyone was passed out.  Not once while watching this did I consider it “beautiful.”  Clunky, awkward, ridiculous, and amateurish, yes; beautiful, no.

I have never had to vet the screen images to ensure they are SFW more than I have for this film.

And oh, the nudity.

I mean honestly, when does art become porn, and vice versa?  Because when you see someone wearing a ridiculous amount of lipstick wanking off in a room filled with comatose bodies while someone else is jiggling a very large boob straight to the camera, you really start to think to yourself that you’ve crossed that line. 

Nothing like a film filled with penii sporting semis.

And in the final act of the film, the bit with the drag queen Spanish dancer and the only section of the film that was NOT removed from youtube due to explicit content violations, the actors dance by simply twirling in place.  Really.  It’s ten goddamn minutes of watching people spin.  From different angles, sure, but spinning.  All I could think of was The Simpsons Halloween episode where Kang and Kodos take over the bodies of Bob Dole and Bill Clinton and say, “always twirling, twirling, TWIRLING!”  

This right here = more compelling than Flaming Creatures

I don’t know.  I mean honestly, I just don’t know.  I’m incredibly generous towards the “Must See” handle our precious tome claims.  Hell, even with films that I don’t personally like (cough – Titanic – cough) I usually understand why, for one reason or another, they are considered “Must See.”  But I swear to fuck, there is absolutely no reason to see Flaming Creatures before you die.  Absolutely none.

Arbitrary Rating: 1/10.  And we have a winner!  Lowest rated film ever!


  1. So...I'm guessing you haven't seen Vinyl yet. Flaming Creatures is marginally better than Vinyl because Flaming Creatures is marginally shorter than Vinyl.

    Also, I'm very happy with your adoption of "penii."

    Flaming Creatures is a bag of shit, not even interesting because of the bag. It's a film that someone out there will claim to like, but I can only imagine them liking it in that sense that some people claim to like things just to make themselves seem daring or more interesting. I seriously can't imagine anyone genuinely enjoying this film--even as straight pornography it's pretty damn awful.

    1. I HAVE seen Vinyl, I just barely remember it. I know it was incredibly tedious, but that's all I remember.

      Ending words in a double I, especially when they're not supposed to end in a double I, is a great deal of fun. I particularly loved when it was used in "The Social Network" to refer to the Winklevii twins, but penii is even better.

      Confession: I picked this one for the club. We have been reviewing far too many GOOD movies lately. We need to get some crap reviewed too so that we don't, to use your analogy, eat all our dessert first.

    2. Ah, so you're to blame...

      Honestly, the first thing that popped into my mind when I saw someone had picked this for the club was, "Uhh... This is a joke. A troll. Right?" Yeah, I fully expect to see this shoot to the bottom of our "Worst Reviewed" list.

      You gave this a 1; I gave it a 2. The only film to get a lower rating from me was Vinyl. I am honestly curious to see what you will give it.

    3. Ha ha ha... yeah... I figure Vinyl won't earn much more than a 2 or 3, if that, from me based on my weak memories of it. Maybe even a 1, like this!

      Seriously, we've done too many great movies lately! BRING ON THE SHIT! Because there IS shit in this list, and jesus, we're committed to reviewing that too.

      I completely anticipate this immediately winning "Worst Reviewed" award.

    4. In all honesty, when I saw this one pop up (I picked Fight Club, by the way, so I'm guilty of continuing the "generally positively reviewed" choices), my first thought was, "About time we got a shitty one."

    5. Vindication! To quote Bertie Wooster, we have to take the r with the s.

    6. --Writes down Salo in his 'Potential Club Picks' Notepad file-- :D

      On an unrelated note, what's with the formatting on this site? The background and dropdown menu at the top don't show up at all in my main browser, and only like half the time in any other browser I use. If it doesn't show up, I can't see or use the comments section at all, which is largely why I haven't commented here in a long time. No idea why it happens, but it's rather annoying.

    7. Well, if Salo ever comes up, I'll know I brought it on myself.

      *sighs* yeah, the formatting is futzy, which is frustrating because it's a standard template format for blogger. I apologize. Maybe I'll look into changing it. It's just I love this format so much....... stoopid interwebs...

      Out of curiosity, just so I know, what browser(s) does this NOT work in?

    8. I have Opera, Chrome, Firefox, and IE, and the last time I tried to post a reply here I couldn't get it to load right on any of them. So far, if I wait a while after trying and try again in Chrome, it might work (like now), but I haven't tested the other two. I mainly use Opera, and it has never worked in that.

    9. It hasn't worked in Chrome for me in three or four days. I need to use IE (which I'm required to keep on my system for work) to view the site with comments.