This unrestrained blast of cinematic anarchy won’t please everybody, but if you like your retro B-movies jam-packed (and I do mean packed: the film features an astounding 3700 edits, which has to be some kind of record) with gore, mad doctors, freaky brain parasites and mutating penis monsters, than LOVE GOD is for you! If you can find it, that is…
LOVE GOD, made in 1997, seems destined to be best remembered (if at all) as the first-ever digitally shot feature. It’s also one of the absolute craziest movies of all time, which shouldn’t come as any surprise to those lucky enough to have experienced director Frank Grow’s previous film, the incredible 1989 short RED AND ROSY. In the premiere issue of Film Threat Video Guide, Grow spoke about that film’s mind-roasting editing style thusly: “I wanted it to be like click, click, click, like you have a remote control in your hands” and that “the problem now is trying to make that work in a feature.” Evidently he figured that “problem” out, as LOVE GOD is the logical outgrowth of RED AND ROSY’S frantic sensory overload aesthetic.
Unfortunately, in what is becoming an all-too-common occurrence these days, LOVE GOD was never released on VHS or DVD in the US and overall has been mostly forgotten. This is despite the attention it initially received as a pioneering effort in the digital field and the fact that it was made under the auspices of Good Machine Productions, who also produced high profile indies like HAPPINESS and AMERICAN SPLENDOR. Those and quite a few other Good Machine films have been released, to varying degrees of success—why not LOVE GOD?
Budget cuts force a mental hospital to discharge a number of their loony patents, including Victor, who has Tourette’s syndrome; Kathleen, a schizophrenic woman who believes she’s Kali, the Hindi goddess of destruction; and Larue, a meek fellow with a plucky parasitic critter stuck in his head (we get several glimpses of the thing bopping around) who causes a “reading disorder” that gives Larue an uncontrollable compulsion to read aloud and destroy written words.
The hospital’s heads, the nutty Dr. Noguchi and his sex surrogate therapist (correction: sex surrogate therapist in training) sidekick Darla, are attempting to track down an ancient prehistoric worm that’s loose in the city sewers and has a foul habit of bursting out of people’s toilets and transforming them into lumbering mutant blobs with apparently insatiable sex drives. Larue, meanwhile, spends his days making bubble gum sculptures and has fallen in love with the mousy Connie, who lives next door and works with her domineering mother cleaning up crime scenes. The offending flatworm finds itself attracted to the creature inside Larue’s head, which saves him from getting turned into a sex-mad blob. The same cannot be said for Dr. Noguchi, who wants desperately to be transformed by the worm into a “Love God”; he gets his wish, mutating into a gigantic penis-and-balls creature while Connie and Larue set out to prove that love really does conquer all!
Watching this film often feels like viewing a Troma movie (star Will Keenan is a Troma regular) in permanent fast-forward. The experience, as you might expect, is a kinetic and ultimately exhausting one. If often seems like Grow is trying to see how fast he can push things without completely losing control, with plot points often doled out via offhand bits of dialogue and quick, near subliminal edits. This scattershot approach means Grow inevitably misses nearly as often as he hits, resulting in quite a few dead spots; luckily, the hyper-kinetic cutting ensures that the film never lingers on anything long enough for boredom to set in. The cutting style also makes the prosthetic creatures look more impressive than they probably really are, ensuring that we never get a good enough look at any of them to make much of a distinction.
Grow also throws a number of animated interludes into the mix—a mutant face often pops up to finish character’s sentences and an octopus-like representation of the Goddess Kali frequently intrudes to address the schizophrenic Kathleen—along with chaotic voice-over narration (at one point a peripheral character audibly wonders whether Larue will ever find peace through Jesus) and an ever-present punk rock soundtrack. It’s far from perfect, but this is one film that really moves.
BTW, those who continue viewing after the end credits will get to see all the film’s creatures have an orgy!
Good Machine Productions
Director: Frank Grow
Producer: Anthony Bregman
Screenplay: Frank Grow
Cinematography: Terry Stacey
Editor: David Frankel
Cast: Will Keenan, Shannon Burkett, Kymberli Ghee, Kerri Kenneny, Michael Laurence, Dale Soules, Yukio Yamato, Kevin Joseph, Jon Easley, Caroline Clay, Zoe Jenkin, Ramona Jenkin, Mike Weix, Leslie Samuels, Gwen Snyder, Christine Holt