An individual exhibiting such uniqueness or individuality that he or she will cause a roomful of bar cronies to exclaim, "That's one interesting motherfucker!" Actual sexual relations with one's mother are not required.
" . . . you may be shocked to realise that it all means we're in for one Hell of an Apocolypse!"
Next time there aren't any "tasteful" "mature" "adults" hanging around and you can finally pick up something fun at the video place, grab Nathan Schiff's "Weasels Ripped My Flesh"(1979), "Long Island Cannibal Massacre"(1980), or "They Don't Cut The Grass Anymore"(1984) and I guarantee more laughter and splatter than you've gotten outta movies since old faves like the original "Dawn Of The Dead", the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", and (No remake yet but it's bound to happen) "It Must Be Jelly Cause Jam Don't Beg For Mercy Like That".
"1979? 1980? 1984? If these movies are so great how come I never heard of em til they were just released on DVD?" Because Nathan Schiff was such a Low Budget Writer-Director-Producer he didn't even qualify as a Low Budget Writer-Director-Producer - He was just a crazy teenage kid from Long Island who made Super Eight movies with his neighborhood pals to show at parties. It wasn't until years later when his movies were screened in smoky East Village dives and bootleg videos began to proliferate around the planet that Nathan was recognized as a filmmaker of rare skill, talent, and imagination. Nathan is the Alex Chilton of Trash Cinema! What? Who's Alex Chilton? Get outta here, you're buggin' me . . .
Compared to making a feature length motion picture on Super Eight, starting a Punk band and playing in bars is about as wild and crazy as joining your High School Yearbook Staff. For one thing, you can't make a print of a Super Eight movie. With Sixteen or Thirty Five millimeter you get a negative of your film that you can make an infinite number of copies to send out all over the world for all eternity. You run a copy through a projector and it gets more and more scratched up and dirty until you can't show it to a paying audience without even a Sandra Bullock fan wanting to get his money back. But Super Eight? You've got one copy and by the time you show your home movie of your siamese cat beating the crap out of your two year old nephew to people five or six times the image will have deteriorated so bad you won't be able to tell the kid from the cat. And editing? Good Gog Magog! Splice from one shot to another and it looks like Al Sharpton stuck his head in front of the projector. How did Nathan manage to edit these movies without them looking like "Reverend Al Goes To The Hamptons"? How? How? How? The guy is right up there with the same League Of Wizards as Walt Disney and Jimi Hendrix! You know who they are, right?
I haven't seen "Weasels Ripped My Flesh", the store where I stumbled upon"Long Island Cannibal Massacre" and "They Don't Cut The Grass Anymore" don't have it and the girl who works there is a real babe and I don't want to be "the 'Weasels Ripped My Flesh' guy". Maybe I'll just throw it in there all cool and nonchalant like "Hello, Sweetie, I'd like to purchase several of these DVD thingamajigs this afternoon! I'd like to get Keaton's 'The General', Hitchcock's 'Psycho', Godard's 'Contempt, and . . . Oh, what the heck! Let's go nuts! Let's go crazy! . . . Schiff's 'Weasels Ripped My Flesh'! Can I bite your ass? Oh, I'm sorry, that's another film title - Fellini's 'Can I Bite Your Ass'! Those crazy Europeans!" But "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" must be one hell of a good movie if it is anything at all like "Long Island Cannibal Massacre" and "They Don't Cut The Grass Anymore" - Those movies will make you shit white! There's a fourth Schiff movie "Vermillion Eyes" but it's not out on DVD yet, I don't know why.
But I'll tell ya this - NO, absolutely nothing about Frank Zappa in "Weasels Ripped My Flesh". Nathan was not an ironic jaded person, he was MAD - MAD to live! MAD to create! MAD to release the electricity a'flowin' in his veins! MAD, I tell you, MAD! Frank Zappa was a urinal cake cracking wise about the condom machine.
Cinema is a collaborative art and Nathan acknowledges he never could have made these films without his pals John Smihula and Fred Borges or, as he refers to the three of them on the DVD commentary tracks, "Les Trio Infernale" (I'm not sure how to spell that, when a Jew from Long Island suddenly breaks into French getting the right letters in the right place is secondary to not cracking your skull open when you fall down laughing on the floor). WHAT A GREAT BUNCH OF GUYS! "Long Island Cannibal Massacre" climaxes with John chopping Fred up with a chainsaw in such a way that would have Tobe Hooper carrying on like yer lil' old grandmother. Nathan, Johnny Ramone to Tom Savini's Steven Vai, stuffed Thanksgiving Dinner size portions of raw turkey inside Fred's shirt and then had John slice it all up with an actual chainsaw actually running mere actual inches from Fred's actual throat. It all worked out okay but if it hadn't by now every man, woman, and child in the United States have heard as much about the stupid teenagers in Long Island who cut some kid's head off trying to make their own version of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" as we've heard about the stupid Arabs who crashed airplanes into The World Trade Center. I can just see it in the papers . . .
"We were only trying to make a movie!" Nathan Schiff,19, told reporters while being lead into the courtroom. "I wasn't supposed to cut Fred's head off! It was a mistake!" John Smihula, 19, insisted on the witness stand "Oh God, it was a mistake!" Meanwhile in Los Angeles an outraged mob broke into the home of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" director Tobe Hooper, dragged him out into the street, and threw him into the path of a bus full of German tourists who ran out of the bus and devoured his remains."
Another time The Pranksters were on the side of the highway filming a fight scene involving a Samurai sword, some knives, a few guns, and enough fake blood to float a plastic bag fulla dead body parts and when the State Troopers pulled up to investigate Nathan The Dumb Ass pointed the camera at em so the trigger happy Smokies could think it was a gun and damn near blow the whole gang into The Boneyard. Remember that next time some Film School candy ass starts talking about "Guerilla Filmmaking"!
"They Don't Cut The Grass Anymore" has a shot of John running around on top of this great big old house yelling at another character offscreen and coming within about one tenth of one inch of stepping right off the roof and plunging to a certain death. Nathan, The Cameraman, doesn't make a sound to stop him - He's gotta get the shot! HARD CORE!
The Formulative Experience Of Nathan's Childhood was when his Unsuspecting Mom And Pop took him to see a Double Feature of - You are gonna love this, this is so beautiful I'd like to see it in a French bikini by a palm tree in the sand - Mel Brooks' "The Twelve Chairs" and Wes Craven's "The Last House On The Left". Now is that the cutest thing you have ever heard in your life or is that the cutest thing you have ever heard in your life? I rented those two movies and watched em one night - What the hell, The Replacements have split up and Bill Murray doesn't make comedies anymore, what else is there to do? - and all the essential Schiff elements were there! Am I a lonely guy or what? Hey, I almost got married once, but if "The Twelve Chairs" and "Last House On The Left" could result in such a thing as "Long Island Cannibal Massacre" how could I have kids with that crazy woman?
Super Eight Nate was so cool he didn't have any more use for that Film School racket than Woody Allen did. Film School! I did some dumb stuff when I was a kid but even I was too cool and try and con my parents into giving me money to go to freakin' Film School. Never tried to get an electric guitar out of em, either, I would like you all to know. Nathan took some film production courses at The New School but dropped out. Drop outs RULE! If Nathan had been the kind of guy who would complete a filmmaking course at The New School he'd come out of it with an idea for a movie, but first he'd take a short story writing course at The New School. But before he'd make his movie or write a short story he'd take a basket weaving class at The New School. But before he's make a movie, write a story, or weave a basket he'd take a Chinese cooking class . . . The New School is that kinda place. Scott Blakeman taught a comedy writing course there!*
After completing "Long Island Cannibal Massacre" Nathan went to Manhattan and did what any young man interested in a career in the motion picture industry would do - Spend four years working in a luxury hotel. Uh, maybe Nathan wasn't all that interested in a career in the motion picture industry, after all? The early Eighties were the "Yuppie Era" when Greed and Unbridled Ambition were all over Manhattan like Flesh Ripping Weasels and Massackerin' Cannibals were running amok on Long Island just a short while earlier. Working in a hotel full of those cold blooded Yuppie cocksuckers, Nathan was witness to the kind of viciousness and savagery that could only result in a movie as full of blood and guts and blood and guts and then a whole lot more blood and guts as "They Don't Cut The Grass Anymore" which stars John Smihula as a Texas Redneck who goes to Long Island to work as a gardener for the coke snorting Yuppie Scum of Suburbia and goes on a wacky killing spree. Nathan originally intended the film as a "satire" but then he found out John was going to Africa with The Peace Corps in a few days so they just made an all out gore movie. And that's fine with me, any young man who wants to do something to Make A Better World For The Children Of Tomorrow is much better off going to Africa than staying here and doing "satire". Seems to me that here in the United States we're up to our eyeballs in people doing "satire", just think What A Wonderful World This Would Be if they stopped writing all those corny "Dick Cheney" jokes and joined The Peace Corps to go to Africa and do whatever the fuck Peace Corps people do in Africa. Yeah, let's ship Jon Stewart and those queers at "The Daily Show" to Ethiopia for a year if they're really so goddam "concerned" about everything.
JON STEWART: Well, we're all leaving for Ethiopia tonight so we don't have time to write any our usual satirical jabs at the hypocrisy of American society, so . . . Let's just do a thing where I kill Condoleeza Rice and then tear her apart and look at all of her guts for half an hour! That would be great!
And Fred was too busy to be in the movie, anyway - He was working at the Homeless Blind Veterans With AIDS Shelter. These guys were willing to LAY IT ON THE LINE, MAN!
JON STEWART: Don't forget to mention how much money I make like every other article about me!
Judging from the interviews and commentary tracks on the DVDs of his movies, Nathan is a likeable, mild mannered fella, the kind of sardonic New Yorker you might find waiting to get up and tell a few jokes at The Improv or The Comic Strip. . . No, wait a minute, I take it back - Nate's too funny to waste his time with those losers. He's been offered a million chances to direct low budget horror movies out of other people's scripts but can't be bothered with that crap. I guess filming the horrible things that you've got inside your mind is one thing but filming the horrible things that some other sick bastard has inside his mind is another. "What? And then he cuts her head off!? That is just awful! Yeah, yeah, I know what I had in that movie I made twenty five years ago but that was twenty five years ago! I was just a kid! Look at you - You're old enough to be a grandfather! Get away from me! You should be ashamed of yourself!" It seems to me the only way to make a movie full of people getting tortured, chopped up, eaten, and all that sort of activity is to spend your own money and do the whole thing yourself. If George Romero had tried to get Tobe Hooper to direct "Night Of The Living Dead" Tobe would have cut George up and made barbeque out of him and if Tobe had tried to get George to direct "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" George would have shot Tobe in the head, taken the body outside, and burned it - Which is pretty much the same thing as barbeque, so don't ever go to one of those guy's Fourth Of July parties.
Do Jews barbeque? Do they celebrate the Fourth Of July? Is Jon Stewart looking to hire a gardener?
" . . . nothing will ever change until the Atomic Bomb goes off."
Aw, Nate - Lighten up! Look! "Godzilla"s comin' on!
* That's a little joke for me and everybody else who was doing stand up comedy in New York during the late eighties.
John Saleeby wrote for The National Lampoon while he was in high school, was a stand up comic in New York, and has contributed to the net humor zines Schmuck.com, Campaign Central, and the legendary American Jerk. He's on medication now so he's probably a little nicer now than he was when you met him earlier. Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
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