GeekMaggotBingoA pivotal film in the Cinema of Transgression that was directed by one of the its key practitioners Nick Zedd, who forcibly demonstrates the movement’s considerable debt to the horror genre.

Nick Zedd made this, one of his few feature length films, in 1983, in between the shorts THE BOGUS MAN (1981) and THE WILD WORLD OF LYDIA LUNCH (1983). GEEK MAGGOT BINGO’S nod to 1950s-era horror cinema is made explicit by the presence of horror host Zacherle (playing himself) and former Fangoria editor Bob Martin in the cast. Also appearing is punk legend Richard Hell, proving he’s no actor.

The Cinema of Transgression (as profiled in Jack Sargeant’s 1995 volume DEATHTRIPPING) is a New York based sub-cultural movement, born out of the punk rock and underground film scenes, that flourished during the late 1970s and 80s. Its best known practitioners include Beth B., Nick Zedd, Richard Kern and Lydia Lunch, and GEEK MAGGOT BINGO (whose initial title THE FREAK FROM SUCKWEASEL MOUNTAIN still adorns the film) is one of its best known films.

Dr. Frankenberry is a mad scientist who, together with his cross dressing hunchbacked assistant Geeko, is looking to create a new life form. Unfortunately, their attempts are thwarted by an evil vampire couple residing in the woods beyond Frankenberry’s castle. The Doctor sends Geeko to track down the vamps, but Geeko is waylaid and turned into a vampiric slave. Geeko heads back to Frankenberry’s castle, where the latter reveals his latest plan: he wants to create a man with formaldehyde blood that when sucked will destroy the vamps.

Frankenberry and Geeko find a vessel for the formaldehyde man, and wind up with a two headed monstrosity that Frankenberry hustles out to the vampires’ lair with Geeko in tow. Also afoot is the Rawhide Kid, a pistol packing cowboy who assists Frankenberry in taking down the vamps—or tries to, at least!

Yes, this is a terrible movie by any standard, but it’s pointless to complain about the (extremely) low budget trashiness, as that’s part of its conception. In many respects GEEK MAGGOT BINGO is a precursor to more recent self-aware cult horror films like THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA and POULTRYGEIST, but Nick Zedd takes his trashy aesthetic to extremes no other self-respecting filmmaker would dare.

There are no sets in this film, which was shot largely in somebody’s apartment with blatantly unconvincing painted backgrounds and cardboard props. The performers appear to have been encouraged to act as hammy as humanly possible, the camerawork is wobbly and frequently out of focus, and the “special” effects were accomplished by animation scratched onto the celluloid, as well as tacky Halloween masks.

None of this is the slightest bit scary, of course, as the whole thing is more a postmodern provocation than a proper movie. As such it exerts an odd fascination comparable to the George Kuchar and John Waters films that helped inspire the Cinema of Transgression, but in the end I think a real horror movie would be preferable.

Vital Statistics

Weirdo Productions

Director/Producer/Screenwriter/Cinematographer/Editor: “Nickodemus” Zedd
Cast: Robert Andrews, Richard Hell, Brenda Bergman, Donna Death, Bruno Zeus, Gumby Sangler, Tyler Smith, Jim Giacama, Bob Martin, Bob Elkin, Residue, Zacherle