I first “met” Doug Tilley when he contacted me for an e-mail interview about my own long-ago crap movie, Forever Evil. He’s a nice guy, talented writer. Does a couple of podcasts in addition to his No Budget Nightmares feature on Daily Grindhouse.
I should have paid more attention to my story tropes, because guys like Doug are the ones who stab you in the back during climactic battles, or innocently cause the Apocalypse. This begins innocently enough with an entry on the aforementioned column, on a movie I had never heard of before: Science Crazed.
“You have never, ever seen anything like SCIENCE CRAZED. I promise you.”
Reading Doug’s review again, it is like the circular narrations I wrote about last week, where the first time you hear the narration, you have nothing to hang on the words, but when it’s repeated at the end, the narration becomes heavy with meaning. There have been other mentions of Science Crazed from Doug on Twitter and Facebook. Enough that I was finally curious enough to track down a copy. Like The Necronomicon, there are no copies available to the general public, and for a damned good reason. And like a doomed character in an H.P. Lovecraft story, I tracked it down anyway.
We will pause now while I stare emptily into space for a few moments, shuddering.
I have watched many, many bad movies in the course of my life. I had thought that I had hit the lowest with Sorority House Vampires From Hell, but I was proven wrong when Joe made me watch Things for my first Daily Grindhouse podcast. This, surely, was it – but the Universe keeps finding ways to prove me wrong.
Okay, the first thing you are going to notice about Science Crazed is that it’s shot on video. I’m okay with this. The second thing you are going to notice is that everybody is dubbed. Okay, I can handle that. They are dubbed poorly, which is a little harder to take. And even though they are dubbed, the room tone still changes from shot to shot. Here, allow me to demonstrate, with the movie’s opening:
You will notice something else, here. Although the intention was to overdub everyone, writer/director/super auteur Ron Switzer apparently told everyone to pause for a few seconds before saying their lines so the echo of his voice calling “ACTION!” could die away. But, in order to pad his movie out to the required 80 minutes for a feature, he left these pauses in. I could reduce the running time by about fifteen minutes just by cutting out those pauses. More on padding in a moment. First we should address what plot can actually be found:
Dr. Frank straps a woman to a chair and gives her an injection that he promises will cause her to give birth to a baby in 24 hours. Strangely, she is okay with this. She writhes in the chair while screams are dubbed in. The next morning, Frank and his assistants come in (science is not something that needs to be observed, I guess), to find her corpse and a baby on the floor. Frank instructs his assistants to wrap the baby’s head in gauze, which makes as much sense as anything else so far.
In the matter of a few hours, the baby has grown into a strapping adult gauze-faced Fiend, who kills Frank and proceeds to wander the endless halls of the Shelley Institute, looking for victims. The Shelley Institute has an pretty unusual variety of facilities, and a bunch of people doing a variety of things in these facilities, most of them unexplained. None of them know a Fiend is coming, although the thing sounds like a lion with a sinus infection snoring in a cardboard box.
Let’s look at the first major segment, which is going to bring us back to the truly diseased amount of padding in this movie: There are two women exercising in one of the Institute’s many odd rooms. The Fiend stalks the halls, drawing closer. We think he’s drawing closer. He could be moving away from them, for all the clues the camerawork and editing give us. The women continue to exercise. No, wait, it’s not so much that they continue to exercise as the same damned footage is repeated over and over again until the segment is ten goddamn minutes long. Switzer took his tape recorder to a gym to record a real workout session, which means there are far more people on the soundtrack than there are in the exercise room.
Doug Tilley, possibly in an attempt to warn the world, possibly in an act of contrition, posted this entire sequence to YouTube. Go ahead, I dare you:
Some build-up, huh? Some monster attack, huh?
Now consider the excruciating volcanic hell of nearly an hour and a half of this.
There is a blonde in a room doing something with a microphone, maybe? Switzeris quite proud of the swirling camerawork he did around her because he repeats it five or six times while someone bangs on a Casio keyboard. Interspersed with hallway shots, of course.
The two assistants do call in a cop (he’s browsing in a local video store) who looks like a high school senior giving his impression of what a loose cannon cop must be like – I haven’t seen a prop gun so misused since Plan 9 From Outer Space. Apparently all the other cops have the weekend off, so he and the two assistants split up to look for the Fiend.
The Shelley Institute also has an indoor swimming pool which has some sort of party going on in the middle of the night. Science Crazed has its educational aspects, as we discover that ladies in Canada wear high heels and sunglasses to indoor pools. The Fiend takes exception to this, drowns one woman who obligingly swims up to him, and shuffles off.
One of the last of the people in the Shelley Institute to fall to the Fiend’s strolling rampage is a woman making a list of countries in which to test nerve gas, That she composes her list so slowly is a droll bit of self-parody in this movie, so I assume it’s in there by mistake.
This is a movie shot in slow motion that has absolutely no slow motion in it. Unless you count the scene where the worthless cop dies, and I think he’s supposed to be crumpling to the ground in slow motion, but is really only moving very slowly.
I’ve also seen movies that get confused between daytime and nighttime, but I’ve never seen that in a movie happening indoors. There are plenty of times that the Fiend walks into a fully-lit room, only to have the next scene happen in a spotlight in a dark room. I’d say it’s an artistic conceit, but the rest of the movie argues against any artistry whatsoever.
Incidentally, the Fiend can dodge bullets, but it can’t dodge a machete. Go figure.
The movie ends with the supposedly dead Fiend’s eye opening and a promise of a sequel, which results in my traditional send-off to really bad movies: “Oh, fuck you!”
Science Crazed is apparently on YouTube in its entirety. You can find it yourself, if you’re so inclined. I refuse to have that stain on my karma.
Doug Tilley, why you hate me so?