Every day Robert Saucedo shines a spotlight on a movie either so bad it’s good or just downright terrible. Today: Best Worst Movie(s).
If there is a list of the patron saints of bad movies, chances are good the Kuchar brothers’ names reside somewhere on that list.
It Came From Kuchar is a 2009 documentary about the filmmaking twins George and Mike Kuchar. Directed by Jennifer Kroot, the film offers an uncompromising look at a pair of directors who definitely march to the beat of their own drum — a drum that, in fact, might actually be a kazoo.
George and Mike Kuchar were born in 1942 New York. Rising to prominence in the world of underground 8mm movies, the Kuchar brothers made a name for themselves with their slightly offbeat and impressively large filmography. George alone has directed over 200 films with Mike not too far off.
Unlike the Coen or Wachowski brothers, though, the Kuchars have only made a handful of films together — instead each developing their own unique style of filmmaking separately; helping the other out occasionally with acting roles.
George, now a teacher at the San Francisco Art Institute, is known for heavily stylized, quickly shot farces. Mike, on the other hand, chooses to explore more abstract films that feature little to no plot.
It Came From Kuchar follows the brothers as they began their career putting together black and white films — recruiting friends and family for the cast. Interviews with the brothers’ former cast members give an in-depth look at the brothers’ sometimes bizarre filmmaking choices — such as giving the actresses some ghastly make-up jobs or distinctly shaped fake eyebrows.
As the pair started to develop notoriety in the art chic world of New York, their films grew more elaborate — never loosing their charming homespun quality, though.
Interviews in the documentary include filmmakers John Waters, Buck Henry, Atom Egoyan, Wayne Wang and cartoonist Bill Griffith.
The Kuchar brothers’ influence is explored — with proof even being offered that the Dino De Laurentiis produced Barbarella was inspired by an early Mike Kuchar film, Sins of the Fleshapoids.
Kroot’s documentary features scattershot editing that is, in many ways, just as inspired by the Kuchar brothers’ films. Anecdotes jump back and forth — with some abruptly finishing without an ending and others being picked up half way through the story. The editing style fits with the brothers’ filmmaking sensibilities.
Although the Kuchars are now separated by geographical distance, Kroot even manages to show the brothers’ everlasting link with some pretty neat bits where they share an anecdote — finishing each others sentence despite both distance and time.
It Came From Kuchar offers a definitive look at a pair of directors who have existed for the last 50-plus years on the fringe of filmmaking — offering inspiration to generations of future artists.
Besides a collection of clips from the Kuchars’ filmography, It Came From Kuchar offers a fascinating glimpse at George Kuchar at work; he teaches his film students by leading them in a genuine Kuchar production — complete with inflatable spider monsters, cross-dressing evil scientists and enough colored cellophane filters to suffocate a bus full of pre-schoolers.
It Came From Kuchar parallels the brother’s past with a portrait of where they are today — both settled into their productive, if quiet, lives. Moments of loneliness peak out from the lives of two brothers whose social scene has been replaced by the world of YouTube.
In a world where the technology exists that would have offered the Kuchars greater success if they had started out today, the brothers have become lost in the shuffle. Thanks to digital cameras and the Internet, anybody can be a Kuchar. Sadly, few will ever get the opportunity to see the work of the pair who made being a Kuchar fashionable.
Robert Saucedo thinks most movies could use more giant inflatable spider monsters. Follow Robert on Twitter @robsaucedo2500.
Robert Saucedo is an avid movie watcher with seriously poor sleeping habits. The Mikey from Life cereal of film fans, Robert will watch just about anything — good, bad or ugly. He has written about film for newspapers, radio and online for the last 10 years. This has taken a toll on his sanity — of that you can be sure. Follow him on Twitter at @robsaucedo2500.