Early Kuchar Brothers shorts: worth watching?

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Hi, ILF. I have a filmgoing dilemma that I'm hoping you all can help me with. This Wednesday, two different screenings will be occurring in the evening that I'd like to attend, and unfortunately, both are scheduled to occur at the exact same time, so I can only elect to go one of the two. I'd like to go to my local revival theater to see The Bridge on the River Kwai, but at the same time, playing across town at my university's theater will be the second part of their program of the early shorts of the Kuchar brothers (and I can't attend the first part, so this would be my only chance to see any of them). I know I'll like Bridge a lot, if my previous experience seeing Lawrence of Arabia on the big screen is any indication. I've never seen anything by the Kuchars, so I have nothing to go by. I know that Hold Me While I'm Naked and Sins of the Fleshapoids are supposed to be "classics", but this is all stuff that occurs earlier than that in their oeuvre. So my question to you all is, are these early shorts worth missing David Lean on the big screen for? Or are they too amateurish to bother with? The program consists of:

A Woman Distressed
Night of the Bomb
The Confessions of Babette
Anita Needs Me
I Was a Teenage Rumpot
The Slasher

Chris F. (servoret), Monday, 18 April 2005 17:53 (fourteen years ago) link

Saw a Kuchar programme presented by one of the bros(sorry, can't remember titles) An amazing night, hilarious and bizarre, with loads of real low-budget visual magic.

Now, a disclaimer: you'd actually have to pay me a fortune to sit through 'Kwai'. However, regardless of that, any David Lean is going to come round again. Old underground movies are fragile and rare - you may not get too many more chances.

Soukesian, Monday, 18 April 2005 18:20 (fourteen years ago) link

Kuchars are the aesthetic uncles of John Waters, only more unhinged and precise parodists. Great stuff; go. These are newly struck transfers I saw most recently about 6 months ago.

>too amateurish to bother with

NO, TBOTRK is too slick to choose!

I saw "Kwai" many times on TV as a kid; it's a pretty damn conventional version of an "antiwar" movie, complete with chickenshit ending (Guinness hams, and Holden has little to do). What you'd expect of a big Oscar winner, even in the '50s. You can rent this, you CAN'T rent the Kuchars (and George sez it's unlikely that'll change).

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Monday, 18 April 2005 20:09 (fourteen years ago) link

Go see Kwai. Normally I'd say check out the Kuchar flicks, but it sounds like Lean's aesthetic appeals to you more than Kuchar, so go with your gut.

jay blanchard (jay blanchard), Monday, 18 April 2005 22:55 (fourteen years ago) link

you CAN'T rent the Kuchars (and George sez it's unlikely that'll change).


(i'd go see the kuchars but that's just me)

joseph (joseph), Tuesday, 19 April 2005 00:05 (fourteen years ago) link

Well, I'm trying to abide by a policy of not renting movies that were meant to be seen on the big screen. Otherwise, this wouldn't have been a dilemma at all for me, since Bridge is readily available on DVD. Dr. Morbius brings up a good point re: narrative content. I was prepared to sit through some horseshit moralizing and retarded narrative conventionalism in order to luxuriate in the aesthetic experience, same as I had to do with Lawrence. But part of what led me to ask this question here was reading synopses of Bridge's plot online and realizing that I'd have to put up with a lot of cheesy and unintelligent stuff in the narrative, and wondering if I should maybe give it a pass after all. But, on the other hand, I was worried that the Kuchars would turn out to be nothing more than a crude aping of the same type of big-budget Hollywood melodrama. If they're really "precise parodists" and not just teenagers with a Super 8 camera who happened along at the right moment in underground cinema's history, they might be worth seeing. I had a pretty good experience seeing Polyester at the same theater a while back, so experiencing a "more unhinged" version of a John Waters flick doesn't strike me as a bad thing. Hmm...

Chris F. (servoret), Tuesday, 19 April 2005 05:28 (fourteen years ago) link

> I was worried that the Kuchars would turn out to be nothing more than a crude aping of the same type of big-budget Hollywood melodrama<

I'd call it a *transcendent* aping of big-budget Hollywood melodrama. Plus, a closeup of shit in a toilet bowl!

I saw "Kwai" at least once in a theater, and it doesn't approach the visual splendor of "Lawrence."

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 19 April 2005 12:14 (fourteen years ago) link

Oh boy, shit in a toilet bowl! Sod it, then-- I'm in.

Seriously, though, I think I'm going to go with the Kuchars anyway, on your recommendation, Doc. I'll let you all know if that was a wise choice after the screening tomorrow.

Chris F. (servoret), Tuesday, 19 April 2005 16:43 (fourteen years ago) link

That was rather surprisingly nice! I enjoyed especially some of the intertitles and the cartoon special effects, and the musical choices for the soundtracks were quite good. Thanks for the recommendation, all.

Chris F. (servoret), Thursday, 21 April 2005 02:02 (fourteen years ago) link

You now have to seek out George Kuchar's The Devil's Cleavage. A feature length (more or less, if I remember correctly) that is the best of what I have seen from him or Mike K, who's generally not as good.

nickn (nickn), Thursday, 21 April 2005 22:13 (fourteen years ago) link

seven months pass...
Rented the Sins of the Fleshapoids DVD this weekend, which also contains 2 other Mike Kuchar films I hadn't seen before -- The Craven Sluck and The Secret of Wendel Samson (starring Red Grooms!). A must-see for proto-Waters, post-Anger genre-parody delirium. And Mike's commentary is as charmingly rambling as his NYC intros at Kuchar screenings.


Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Monday, 12 December 2005 16:35 (thirteen years ago) link

two years pass...

10 Kuchar films via Dennis Cooper:


Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 10 June 2008 20:04 (eleven years ago) link

Awesome! Thanks!

Soukesian, Tuesday, 10 June 2008 22:27 (eleven years ago) link

nine months pass...

NYC weeklong fest, Wed-Tues:


Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 10 March 2009 17:17 (ten years ago) link

george spoke once at my school and showed films, john waters did the intro. strange guy. i think ubuweb has some of his stuff online

eman, Tuesday, 10 March 2009 17:34 (ten years ago) link


eman, Tuesday, 10 March 2009 17:34 (ten years ago) link

George's late '70s work with his SFAI students -- I'd only seen way more recent videos from the classes -- are an unprecedented level of crazy. Pornier, glowingly B&W, a time capsule of hot boys w/ bad hair and mustaches.

Forthcoming doc at SXSW:


Dr Morbius, Monday, 16 March 2009 14:44 (ten years ago) link

those 70s student films are totally incredible - what john waters' dreams must look like

double dutch bus schedule (donna rouge), Wednesday, 18 March 2009 01:56 (ten years ago) link

I just went to the 7 tonight, woulda got home too late ... saw their WW2 combat film The Naked and the Nude (yes there was a UFO).

Dr Morbius, Wednesday, 18 March 2009 02:18 (ten years ago) link

two years pass...


incredibly middlebrow (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 8 September 2011 01:29 (eight years ago) link

five months pass...

saw this '73 feature tonight... astounding dialogue even for GK


Literal Facepalms (Dr Morbius), Monday, 13 February 2012 05:14 (seven years ago) link

I was right there with you, Dr Morbius. needed to justify an unplanned outing to chinatown to satisfy a sudden, deep dumpling urge, so tacked on a movie. a very good whim--had no expectations, but the best time i've had at the movies in a while.

snack, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 14:13 (seven years ago) link


Literal Facepalms (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 23 February 2012 15:31 (seven years ago) link

George got a slide on the Oscar show, almost wouldn't have expected that.

nickn, Monday, 27 February 2012 06:06 (seven years ago) link

two years pass...
seven months pass...

Tonight I am going to see Corruption of the Damned / Eclipse of the Sun Virgin / Knocturne (all George btwn 1965-68). Anyone seen those? This should be p great, right?

Jennifer 8.-( (Stevie D(eux)), Friday, 23 January 2015 18:40 (four years ago) link

This: "George btwn 1965-68" tells me yes.

BTW, ran into a Mike Kuchar art exhibit (he was even there signing posters) last week that also had a couple of his films being projected. Did he do anything worth seeing besides The Craven Sluck?

nickn, Friday, 23 January 2015 19:26 (four years ago) link

yes, Stevie!

lots, nickn

touch of a love-starved cobra (Dr Morbius), Friday, 23 January 2015 20:41 (four years ago) link

Can you name a few I should check out? The few I've seen of his besides CS just seemed like pale, wit-free imitations of George's stuff.

nickn, Friday, 23 January 2015 23:27 (four years ago) link

holy smokes, those were great!! I wasn't expecting them to be as well-shot/cinematic as they were. Why aren't these available on DVD?

Jennifer 8.-( (Stevie D(eux)), Saturday, 24 January 2015 03:25 (four years ago) link

two years pass...

Rewatched (I think i'd seen it before, anyway) George's The Devil's Cleavage last night at Lincoln Center, in glorious 16mm. Lurid, pansexual, delirious pulp parody, with a trollop heaving the contents of a bedpan at her hag-masked mother very early on.

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Friday, 5 January 2018 19:40 (one year ago) link

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