There are few things El Jefe de Santo enjoys more than besting opponents in the squared circle, but one of those is watching movies. Cinema, of any kind, excites this masked wonder, but even moreso the worst movies give him a thrill like no other. B-Movies make most viewers cringe or just walk away. Not El Jefe de Santo! He embraces their awful plotting, acting and everything else in hopes that it will be fun to watch. What follows are the chronicles of the worst movies ever made.

 

 

A good B-movie is something I always enjoy. There are few things in this world that give me more pleasure, honestly, than sitting down to a real piece of garbage, belittling it as I watch it, and finding some fun to be had in it. They range from nudity-filled horror romps to downright abysmal films about the dangers of reefer

I plan on making this a weekly installment of the absolute worst (yet best) movies around. Let's start this off with a bang shall we?

Maniac (1934)

There are many who would say that Ed Wood is the perpetrator of the absolute worst film ever made. Plan 9 From Outer Space is, in fact, a movie so bad, that no other film usually gets saddled with the moniker of worst ever. I offer to you, my adoring fans, a movie worthy of that title.

Maniac is a movie that purports to be an educational vehicle about the dangers of menta illness. This, of course, is just mere tomfoolery considering that this really serves as a the grandfather film of the exploitation genre. This, for 1934, had a lot of horrendous things happening in it. We not only get a few shots of gratuitous nudity and/or rape but we have a scene in which the male lead pops a cat's eye out and eats it. HE EATS IT. This is 1934 folks. 

One of the many informative slides we're treated to about mental illness.

So, the plot, if you want to call it that, is based around Edgar Allen Poe's The Cat in that there are cats involved and a body behind a brick wall. The similarities end there. The main idea is that there is a brilliant physician/researcher, Dr. Meirschultz, who wants to bring people back to life from the dead. He has some sort of magical serum that will allow him to do so and his assistant, Maxwell, is along for the ride. 

Maxwell is an vaudeville actor who is a master of impersonation and also batshit crazy. The doctor appears to be the only thing keeping Maxwell's insanity under wraps but that soon unravels. The pair seek out a corpse within the local morgue and find a newly acquired cadaver in an unfortunuate woman who committed suicide. The serum appears to work as the woman immediately begins to start twitching and moving, and all the while there are two morgue workers who have this running commentary on the whole ordeal. There is literally a line that made me spit out my drink at the time, "Between the gangsters and auto drivers we don't need another war to carry off the population." The other worker replies with, "You didn't even mention the suicides; got the coroner working overtime."

The newly resurrected woman is spirited away back to Dr. Meirschultz' lab, but the good doctor isn't done yet. He wants to further test his work by acquiring a body in a more advanced start of death. Someone with organs in less than pristine shape, hopefully! Maxwell is sent to find such a stiff, but is spooked by two cats fighting. Really. Two cats start scrapping in a room that appears to be lit by a single lighter maybe held up by the gaff operator. He flees the scene and makes his way down the street only to be accosted, AGAIN, by another pair of rabble-rousing animals in an awful dustup. We have, yet again, a poorly lit scene that allows you, the viewer, to barely make out there was, indeed, a man running down the street.

Alright, so far its not too bad. We have a few scenes of just terrible dialogue here and there, but nothing too horrendous. The fun is about to begin, though!

The doctor is furious with Maxwell's failure and orders him to shoot himself so that he may later resurrect him using his patented serum. The scene goes something like "You fool! Take this pistol and shoot yourself so that I may resurrect you! **BANG** You shot me! You idiot!" Maxwell has nary the moment to react before a visitor comes calling at the front door. It is a rather homely woman named Mrs. Buckley who asks for the doctor. Maxwell informs her he is not in and she tells him that her hubby is in desperate need of attention what with the hallucinations of orangtuan murderers and all. Yeah. She does say that.

Maxwell soon takes it upon himself to, of course, disgiuse himself as the doctor. He can do this with relative ease what with his fine acting skills and ability to impersonate damn near anyone. We have a transformation sequence, of sorts, with his putting together the disguise. Soon after, though, our boy Maxwell flips his shit.

He starts talking to himself aloud on what he should possibly do to remedy the situation. Most of the time whenever we're greeted to one of these "Holy shit he's god damned balls crazy" moments some footage from what I believe to Haxan is imposed over the image of Maxwell. Hands conjuring something and demons talking, sometimes being stabbed and a giant head of a beast breathing fire. This guy is seriously twisted, folks. 

The "Doctor" sees Mr. Buckley eventually and even goes so far as to administer some sort of hopped-up crazy elixir to him which leads to, by far, the most over-the-top and hammiest scene I've probably ever scene. It is seriously amazing.

The level of overacting in this one scene alone tops nearly everything I've seen and I'm including stuff like Battlefield: Earth here. Wow. Just awesome.

So, Mr. Buckley runs off and abducts the recently resurrected woman that the former Dr. Meirschultz and Maxwell rounded up. He takes her off into the woods where he rips clothing off, strangles and one would assume rapes her. This is, again, 1934. What the fuck.

A deal is struck, eventually, by Mrs. Buckley after she discovers that a murder has taken place. Somehow her not telling the police about Maxwell's mistake will benefit her. I honestly wasn't paying attention at that point. There is, however, a great scene here in which a police officer asks the next door neighbor if he heard any sort of gunshots from the lab the night prior. The fellow then proceeds to inform the detective of the business he runs from home. There are rats, cats and furs involved. "Rats eat the cats. Cats eat the rats. And I get the skins!"  Yes. Sounds lucrative, chap!

We are soon greeted with the next "Umm...guys..what the fuck?" moment of the movie when Maxwell decides to finally get rid of the body of the former Dr. Meirschultz. You see the Doc had a black cat named Satan. Yes. That's his name. This cat has been eyeing something on the good doctor's table for some time now! A beating heart in a glass jar. Don't leave organs around cats because they will eat them. This is a scientific fact. This leads to the cat being grabbed, held down and his EYE popped out by Maxwell who then comments that it is more like an oyster and/or grape. He then eats it joyously and comments on how wonderful it is to be this fucking crazy. The best part about the scene is you can clearly tell its a different cat from when he first grabs it and that it was a glass marble, or something, and not an actual eye because the cat's real eye can easily be seen since the shot lingers a bit long. Oh yeah and the cat, for some reason, just flies through a glass window without being thrown. Awesome.

There are lots of moments where Maxwell stares directly into the camera and speaks aloud his thoughts and its usually accompanied by some awful laughter and those damned demons fluttering around in the background again. Eventually his estranged wife enters into the picture via a scene with dancing women. Dancing women in their underwear! Yes! There's also one in a bathtub and in lingerie. One also makes use of that exercise machine where there's a belt that goes around your waist and it shakes. She sings "La Cucaracha" while this happens. She finds that Maxwell is due to inherit money so, of course, she wants to find her long lost love once more.

Maxwell convinces his wife, Alice, soon after her arrival that Mrs. Buckley is crazy and that she should try to help him drug her. This leads to a poorly lit and very loud catfight in the basement that involves hypodermic needles and bats. They really get after it, man!

The cops show up and apprehend Maxwell, but not before heading down to the basement to break up the knock-down drag-out catfight! Yowza! They soon hear a meowing from within the brick wall and knock it down. The awesome part about this scene is that you can CLEARLY see the actor playing Meirschultz helping to push the bricks out of the way as the police officer tears them down. He attempts to put his arm back down but is quite slow to do so. The corpse tumbles out and we're left with an image of Maxwell in a jail cell talking about how he really showed them. We're all left wondering what the fuck just happened.

Why might this be the worst movie ever? Well, let's take a look at it compared to Plan 9. It is always lauded as the worst ever, but there is a charm to the tin plates on string ufos and Tor Johnson stumbling around. This movie is, by all means, just as awful and it was nowhere near appropriate for the time it was produced considering that it was 19-fucking-34. 

It was a joy to watch just how bad it was, and at 51 minutes its easy to get through quickly. Seriously. I've watched it twice now just to absorb the insanity and I had so much fun. 

This is only the beginning folks. I'll be back next week with The Screaming Skull!

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AuthorThe Scrivener