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SALUTE TO THE INDEPENDENTS
This edition of Videophiliac is dedicated to the hard-working independent producers who are willing to risk all to achieve notoriety without having to bow to the gods of commercial distribution.
They maintain complete creative control over their projects and must finance all costs out-of-pocket. Although the size of the budget may affect the quality of the end-product, the original vision and substance remains intact. The discerning eye of the Videophiliac has the highest regard for the avant garde, struggling artist, armed with film or video equipment.


BILL PLYMPTON
Case in point: Bill Plympton, who achieved notoriety in the Eighties when his animated shorts, Your Face, How to Kiss and Push Comes to Shove, were featured in all the film festivals and picked-up by MTV, yielding a 1988 Oscar nomination for Best Animation.
At this point, Plympton became a prime target for the marketing moguls. According to Plympton October Films picked-up the distribution rights to his first animated feature, The Tune, which has not returned any money to Plympton, he said, so he's out selling his films personally.
The Tune
He self-produced a video collection of his animated shorts on video for about $4,000, titled "Plymptoons."
"It's sold or rented in all the big video stores, Blockbuster, Tower, etc."
"It's a very discouraging comment on the state of independent films," Plympton said. "I've already made more money that I did from October."
J. LYLE (93)
Then, in 1993, Bill Plympton self-financed his first live-action, 75 minute, feature film, J. Lyle. In the opening scene, a tenant of an apartment building, in a stop-motion-animated sequence of mayhem, is consumed by his refrigerator and routed through the apartment's electrical system. He is toasted, blended, steam-ironed, takes a trip though his stereo system, clock, answering machine, telephone and television then is redeposited in his apartment via an electrical outlet. This sets the tone for the film which stars Richard Kuranda as the film's namesake, J. Lyle Hadley, a lawyer and owner of the apartment building, who will stop at nothing to see to its vacancy, so that he can take advantage of the financial opportunity of turning it into a toxic waste dump. Assisted by his "scuzball" sidekick, Skip (John Bader) he is determined to encourage all tenants to leave the building by any means possible.
The last tenant, Gwen Gardner (Jennifer Corby), may complicate things as Lyle is smitten by her and develops amorous feelings but even this does not dissuade him from his devious plan.
Enter a magical dog with a cartoon mouth to Gwen's (and J. Lyle's) rescue. J. Lyle's lack of respect, leads the dog to display his magical powers by giving J. Lyle a cartoon mouth, yielding a delightful Rock N Roll musical sequence, "Cartoon Mouth."
As J. Lyle prepares for a date with Gwen, the dog warns, "Remember, any lies or deceptions and I have a surprise for you." He meets her at a restaurant and as he begins to spin his web of deceit, he undergoes several transformations, his stomach wages a personal war, red-seaweed-type-material drops out his nose then his nose falls off. He then resorts to embracing her in dance while serenading her with, "Looking at Love." When she fails to crumble, he resorts again to his verbal prowess, then his tongue elongates and drops onto his plate (about two-and-a-half feet worth), which he promptly eats and cuts off a piece to offer to Gwen insisting that it is steak tartar. As he begins to suggest that they engage in sex and get married the following day, his left arm grows twenty-times its normal size sticking out at two o'clock, which he discounts as a demonstration of his love for her, "My arm has a hard-on for you." The Maitre D' promptly ejects them from the restaurant.
Still resistant to the admonishments of the dog, the magical dog zaps J. Lyle into the bodies of his victims and experiences his own actions as felt by those whose lives he has affected. This includes the refrigerator trip through the electrical system.
In a mode of contemplation his internal organs, specifically his brain, heart, penis, lungs, spleen and intestines, express their opinions then enter into a chorus of, "It Takes Guts."
He discovers his need for something more in life and determines that true love with Gwen would be more fulfilling than owning toxic waste dumps... if only he could be sure that Gwen had feelings for him. J. Lyle gives the building to his scruffy counterpart, Skip, and seeks out the magical dog. After locating the dog, he requests that he be zapped into Gwen's brain to determine whether she actually has any feelings of love for him. The trip yields the knowledge that she does have the slightest sliver of love for him, but an overwhelming amount of hate. This is enough for J. Lyle.
He's willing to give up everything for her, gives up law and takes-up rehabbing old buildings for the homeless and they live happily ever after.
J. Lyle is a celuloid "bent" work of art. Plympton's masterful manipulation of reality is visually exciting, warpped and humorous. Composer Maureen McElheron supplies the musical backdrop and pens the twisted tunes that also help make this film such a delight.
The film is quite lovely, and was shown across America, personally by Bill Plympton himself, semi-theatrically, for the last three years. He would introduce the film and visit with filmgoers in festivals, cinemas, colleges and universities. It is available now, for the first time on video, so that you can have a copy of J. Lyle that you could call your own. The film is $30 (Now, don't complain about the cost. This thing cost Plympton $1,000-per-minute to produce, personally.) and available exclusively from Bill Plympton at, Plymp Corp., 107 West 25, Suite 4B, New York, NY 10001.
It is not yet available at the big video stores, but they are in the process of negotiating, so keep a look out for it, you may be able to rent it soon.


Larry Norman
LARRY NORMAN
Although you may not recognize Larry Norman by name, he did have a brief encounter with fame by achieving Top 40 success of the single, "I Love You," performed with the band, People, in 1967 (Click here for the video stream of the single). People was signed with Capitol Records, who changed the name of the album so that it would be more commercially acceptable. This irked Norman, so he promptly left the band and signed a solo contract in an effort to have more personal control of his projects and released his solo album in 1969. He was insistent about not changing lyrics, titles, etc, for the sake of selling more albums and this led him to MGM, who released his following two albums, the second of which was produced with Beatles producer, George Martin and keyboards were played by Norman's friend, Dudley Moore. (These albums inspired Bono and The Edge to form U2.) His lyrical content included references to God in a reverent manner. No, this is not sugar-coated religious music, like Amy Grant, but more real... more street level.
Larry Norman is noted as the originator of "Jesus Rock" music as a category, which as it gained popularity and became more commercially acceptable, grew into Contemporary Christian Music.
Frustrated with the corporate giants' focus on commercialism, Norman founded his own companies, Street Level, Solid Rock Records and now, Phydeaux.
LARRY NORMAN FACE TO FACE (86)
Norman self-released the first in a series of videotapes for his audience. This one-hour collection includes early performances through 1986, form a variety of sources. The first performance, Song For A Small Circle of Friends is followed by an interview from Australian Television. Excerpts from a European concert includes performances of Why Don't You Look Into Jesus, Stop This Flight, A Woman of God, and Messiah. Followed by a unique punk-rock version of Why Should the Devil Have All The Good Music. Then more European footage of Norman performing Give It Up, and Everybody Work. In an address to a Christian Music Competition he offers an homage to his recently departed Grandmother that moves him to tears, followed by a tearful rendition of I Hope I'll See You In Heaven. The mood lightens up as he forgets the lines to his own song, mid-performance, recovers and discovers that the lines he forgot dealt with fading memories, which gives him a giggle.
This compilation is a brief but interesting videorecord of Larry Norman live, whose writing skills Paul McCartney admired enough to venture that Norman would have been one of the most significant artists of the Seventies if he hadn't limited himself to writing gospel music.
You can get a copy of this video, directly from this artist-who-bucked-the-system, had the balls to go-it-alone and on-his-own for $16.98 plus $2.50 postage and handling, to: Solid Rock Records, 3760 Market Street NE - Suite 306, Salem, OR 97301


STAR NUDES VOLUME ONE
Film viewing audiences are constantly hunting for videos of early film performances by now-famous actresses. In an effort to gain notoriety, young actresses often are persuaded to offer nude scenes to enhance film sales, controversy, promote reviews or as a strategic career move. Now you can see all the infamous nude scenes of your favorite actresses, all on one tape, thanks to independent film distributor C & D Video.
This film compilation is extremely well-done, with on-screen graphics introducing the actress and identifying the name of the film hosting the nude scene, followed by a clip from the film that depicts the entire nude performance.
In this first of many volumes that are available, the following actresses are featured, attempting to further their careers:
Sally Field, Ann-Margaret, Nicole Kidman, Wendy O'Williams, Rosanna Arquette, Ellen Barkin, Sigourney Weaver, Susan Dey, Barbara Carrera, Susan Sarandon, Cathy Deneuve, Ann Magnuson, Kathleen Turner, Kelly McGillis, Jane Seymore, Glenn Close, Sissy Spacek, Nancy Allen, Tawney Kitaen, Jessica Lange, Michelle Pfeiffer, Theresa Russell, Rebecca DeMornay, Melanie Griffith, Ali Macgraw, Kristy McNichol, Sherilyn Fenn, Lisa Bonet, Lea Thompson, Virginia Madsen, Jennifer Connelly, Kim Basinger, Jacqueline Bisset, Rachel Ward and Kelly Preston.
This pseudo-documentary/homage to the actress-in-the-buff, is available for $20, directly from the independent film producers at: C & D Video, 2520 E. Piedmont Road #F, Box 117, Marietta, GA 30062.


NAKED BENEATH THE WATER (95)
What happens when you cross a Stephen King wannabe with some fancy high-end video equipment? You get a film like Naked Beneath the Water, by Sean Cain.
The cuts, wipes, fades, background music, vocal overdubs and limited effects are all first-rate in this shot-for-video feature and are the highlights of the film.
Would-be independent filmmakers will love the technical quality of this film. The cast ever reminds us that good films cannot be made on their technical merit alone. Nonetheless, the videophiliac can appreciate the vision of the Writer, Director, Editor, etc, Sean Cain, whose technical abilities shine.
The film's star, Pelle Svanlos, played by Cain, receives a frantic call from his mother while laying in bed. Turning the TV on, Pelle sees the fuzzy image of who could possibly be his 3 month missing brother. The man of the TV is being murdered in his own apartment and is being featured on the television show, Public Enemy Number One, a program where contestants send-in their homemade videos of live murder scenes.
Pelle moves into his brother's apartment to search for clues as to his whereabouts. He is befriended by Bart (James Wright, Jr.) and early-teen who warns him about the weird people who live upstairs, Max (Richard Teran) and Isadora (Syen). Pelle accepts an invitation to dinner at the weird couple's apartment, where he is introduced to Kyia (Wendy Taylor), a 19-year-old voluptuous woman who ran away from home when she was 16. The couple is offering her safe haven and has allowed her to live with them. She takes a liking to Pelle and sneaks into his room via his bedroom window later that evening.
Pelle and Bart scheme to spy on the neighbors in their absence, only to find that the tenants are home. After their plan is interrupted they return to Pelle's apartment where the nerdy, obnoxious building manager (played by Dave Taub) has arrived to fix a nasty leak in the ceiling. A juvenile-insult-shouting-match ensues between the manager and Bart (the best dialogue of the film).
Naked and drowned in the bathtub
While channel surfing, Pelle and Bart run across Public Enemy Number One. Show host, Sharon Sharalike (Bonnie Steiger) profiles The Bathtub Killers, who pick up vulnerable runaway women, take them into their home, force them to have kinky sex, torture them, then drown them in the bathtub.
In a vision, Pelle's brother, Robert (James Wright) comes home to get some things from out of the closet. This moves Pelle to examine the closet's contents and discovers boxes filled with his brother's body parts. This causes Pelle to crack which results in Cain's ill-attempted dramatic scene.
Kyia has vanished. The manager is killed by Isadora. Pelle decides to investigate the couple's apartment where he finds Kyia's body in the bathtub. Bart has been beaten, bound and gagged.
In the strange climax of the film, Max and Isadora use a camcorder to make a video record of their atrocities. Pelle is tied to a table as Isadora shaves off his beard. Isadora then takes the camera to record Max cutting off his hair, then shaving his head. Isadora also records the Pelle's drowning in the bathtub and insists on getting a good pan from head to penis, which she promptly removes with an electric carving knife and a giggle.
The home video is viewed by Max Isadora and their friends, The Bathtub Killer and The Shaver, with the intent of sending it in to Public Enemy Number One, which they do, and win first prize.
This film reminds me of my early days in Television Production Class, where the class would sit around and watch the works of fellow classmates. This film would have earned an A in that class, as well as hoots and hollers from fellow classmates.
I do not think that this film is ready for mainstream viewers, or that mainstream viewers are ready for this film, but it does exemplify one thing for certain: That in an effort to attain notoriety, a would-be filmmaker may go to great lengths to achieve such. (I hope he got that thing sewed back on okay.)
My advice to Sean Cain? Stay behind the camera, and pick a simpler font for the credits. The film can be had for 20 bucks, from Lackadasical Productions, 4480 Trent Boulevard #122, Concord, CA 94519.


ANNABEL CHONG
I am always searching for rare, independent, eccentric or bizarre films to review. Although I do not personally have an interest in XXX-rated films, one came across my desk that was indeed, in my opinion, bizarre.
It never ceases to amaze my to what lengths a person will go to to gain notoriety and the film and/or video formats are often the vehicles used to attain notoriety. One such woman is X-rated film "actress," Annabel Chong, who has, by far, out-run the contenders for pushing the envelope by attempting to beat the world record for screwing the greatest number of men in one setting.
This is far more severe than screwing the entire football team, this is ludicrous! Her Goal: To screw 300 men in an event called, The Worlds Biggest Gangbang.
THE WORLD'S BIGGEST GANGBANG (95)
The title of this 90 minute video is aptly named The World's Biggest Gangbang, which documents Annabel Chong's attempt to engage in sex with 300 men from across the US, in a studio in California. In the beginning of the video documentary, interviews take place with Chong and some of the male participants. Being an experienced X-rated film star, Chong says, "having sex on video is the greatest job."
The event is hosted by X-rated film star, Ron Jeremy, who proceeds to interview the "fluffers." For the uneducated, a fluffer is an extra (someone who remains off-stage) and performs oral sex on the male participants to assure that they have an erection for their "performance."
The videorecord of the actual screwing is interspersed with interviews of participants where host, Jeremy, asks questions like, "Did you get head? Did you orgasm?..." (others were more prolific). The participants are welcomed to go through the line as many times as they would like.
Chong takes a break after the first 100, which she says, "was easy." She is assured by Director, John T. Bone, that the previous world record of 121 will soon be surpassed.
The second 100, earns her another break. Jeremy asks, "Any one of your orifices getting sore?" To which se replies, "It's getting sore from people's fingers, rather than the dicks." This establishes a new rule, No More Fingers or Thumb Penetration.
Round three is interrupted at number 240. It appears that the participants did not respect the rule about fingers, and sure enough, she has been scratched internally by an ill-groomed fingernail. The producer announces that she will only take ten more gents, followed by Jeremy who will be the 251st.
(Oh, and don't worry about those 50 guys who didn't get to screw Chong, they were allowed to have sex with the fluffers.)
As you read this, I'm certain that the question crosses your mind, as it did mine, and you'll be glad to know that all the men that participated had to wear condoms while engaged in penetration. Technically, the videocam equipment used in the filmmaking was terriffic, but, the VHS duplication of the film was sub-standard, obviously mass-produced on high-speed equipment that needed maintenance. The tracking varies throughout the film. The good news: the tape stock was of excellent grade, so after you watch it, you can re-tape I Love Lucy re-runs over top of it. Attention ladies: If your husband, boyfriend or male significant other was in the LA vacinity on business or vacation on January 22nd, 1995, you might want to get a copy of this film for $45, from Fantastic Pictures, 21526 Osborne Street, Canoga Park, CA 91304.


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Dave Lewis, a non-recovering videophiliac, is constantly on the lookout for strange and unusual videos. If you have an independent film (with or without good production values) or know of a rare or unique film that may be good for review, please write:
Dave Video Addict, P.O. Box 1753, Aberdeen, WA 98520. Or, e-mail Dave at webmanabc@hotmail.com.

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