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Friday, December 18, 2015

Science Crazed

Science Crazed
1991
Ron Switzer

Science Crazed was actually shot on 16mm film, but since it shares so many shot-on-video (SOV) aesthetics and that its only surviving print existed on videotape, I think it can be categorized as such.  Most of today’s micro-budget filmmakers are far too savvy and self-aware to just throw whatever comes into their head on the screen. I think the few that have achieved something truly weird often get lost in the noise that is the sheer volume of content created for sites like Youtube or Vimeo. That’s why it feels like the golden age of SOV spans most of the 80s to the early 90s before the internet really took over as the main means for people to distribute visual storytelling. I doubt we’ll ever see the likes of Sledgehammer (1983), Boardinghouse (1982), Things (1989), or Black Devil Doll from Hell (1984) ever again.

"I love you this much!"
Science Crazed tells the story of one Dr. Frank (Ron Switzer), who, after discovering that his funding has been cut at a local university, decides his best course of action is inject some chemicals into a woman (Donna Switzer) strapped to a lawn chair. She quickly gives birth to a baby that grows into a monster (if your definition of monster is a guy in jeans with pointy green ears and bandages around his head). This monster proceeds to go on a (very slow) rampage. Only Dr. Frank’s assistants and a detective can try and shut the monster down before it kills again.

Science Crazed exists in a dimension where time has no meaning. Scenes drag on interminably and just when the viewer is relieved for it to end, the whole scene is repeated over and over again. Out of an 82 minute film, it feels like a good half hour of that is a single shot of the monster dragging its foot down a hallway. There is an “aerobics” scene featuring two women doing the most basic exercises imaginable that lasts a solid ten minutes. Science Crazed tempts you with thinking there is going to be a payoff when the monster finally arrives on the scene, but it all goes down with some bored staring and then characters are conveniently killed off screen.

Get used to seeing this shot.
Science Crazed feels like an endlessly repeating nightmare, the viewer is drawn into ill-lit nonsensical locations. (Why does this college have a public pool in the basement of a research lab?) The dialog has pauses long enough to show another movie within, and even then you can’t hear what anyone is saying half the time. Every single second of this film is wrong. It’s a gasping fever dream. If you are willing to let it pull you in, there is an unearthly quality that reminds me of what Sledgehammer achieves in its third act, but this film doesn’t even have the enjoyably goofy performance of Ted Prior to ride on.

Science Crazed is brutal, not to the characters, but to the viewer. Watch it all the way through and you will come out transformed. Science Crazed will make monsters of us all.

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