A relic from the glory days of Film Threat Video, who back in the early 1990s put out some truly vital underground films. The 1991 horror/sci fi/musical/comedy PUSS BUCKET was one such film, and while it isn’t in the same league as other FTV releases like RED AND ROSY and TRIBULATION 99, it does have a definite psychotic charm.
PUSS BUCKET’S creator Lisa Hammer (credited as “Lisa Houle”) partially financed the film by placing a classified ad in Film Threat magazine promising to send nude pictures of herself to those who donated money to her cause (Penn and Teller were reportedly among the respondants), and then welching on the deal!
The resulting film, allegedly adapted “From the Broadway musical,” was heavily promoted in Film Threat and its sister publication Film Threat Video, but is now, like many FTV releases, all-but completely forgotten. As for Lisa Hammer, she’s made several subsequent underground films. Let’s hope she used more honest means to finance them!
The dimwitted siblings Judas and Corned Beef live in a rural house owned by their unseen grandmother, where they spend their days watching televangelists on cable TV. One day an alien spaceship turns up over their home.
These two freaks take to performing elaborate song and dance numbers about their predicament (“It was here, it was here, and now it’s coming…”). The aliens meanwhile attempt to figure out how best to present themselves to Judas and Corned Beef, and eventually hit upon a surefire method: they transmit an image of the Virgin Mary! In a song the VM demands that J & CB, being “beautiful examples of immaculate conception,” collect the “evil puss” emitted from “demons.” In other words, she wants them to kill people. J & CB find a bucket to collect the offending puss, and are off and running.
Their first victim is a young woman whose car has broken down near their house. They stab her to death, and then lure a naïve religioso to their home, where they tie the dork up and beat him to death. Their next victims are two whores they pick up at an S&M club, who they mutilate in gruesome (and largely incoherent) fashion.
At this point the aliens decide to leave Earth, and transmit a final message to J & CB. This time the Virgin Mary informs them she’s pleased with the job they’ve done so far, but now they need to set their murderous sights on the corrupt youth of America!
Lensed in ultra-grainy black-and-white, PUSS BUCKET clearly had no budget to speak of. The wide shots of the model house where the protagonists supposedly live attests to that, as do the sound design and dialogue editing, which rarely ever match the imagery. You might also argue that the rambling and unfocused narrative, which runs out of steam long before the end, is a product of the non-budget, and you might be right. Viewed from one angle the film can be seen as a quintessential example of no-budget amateurism, complete with none-too-elaborate music numbers that play out exactly as you might expect.
Yet there’s a definite cockeyed logic to the proceedings. Lisa Hammer’s pointed use of repetition, oft-witty dialogue and artful music video interludes (with tunes by the nineties punk bands Sisyphus Autopsy, Flea Pillow, Beastovitch and Ant Farm) attest to a warped intelligence at work behind all the insanity. It’s entirely possible, of course, that this “intelligence” is actually the work of a devious filmmaker attempting to convince us her no-budget example of weirdness-for-weirdness’ sake filmmaking is more meaningful than it actually is, but I say the mere fact that PUSS BUCKET inspires such thoughts proves it has some worth.
Blessed Elysium Productions/Film Threat Video
Director/Producer/Screenplay/Cinematography/Editing: “Lisa Houle” (Lisa Hammer)
Screenplay: Lisa Hammer, Terrence Fleming, E.A. Hammer
Cast: Terrence Fleming, E.A. Hammer, Brian Sullivan, Gina Cammarotta, Madeline Virbasius, Ultra Lavish, Evelyn Rosa, Onyx Coal, Walter Prince, Erika Brown