The Brick Dollhouse
Maybe I was too hard on "A Sweet Sickness".
As I've mentioned before, I love bad movies and I love Something Weird. Their tireless work in unearthing the strangest, sleaziest, stupidest cinema in existence is an inspiration for all us bad-movie addicts. I'm determined to watch pretty much anything they release in some sort of lunatic quest to find the great unknown Bad Movie Masterpiece. The downside to this is losing countless hours wading through exploitation also-rans that, while entertaining in fits and starts, prove to me nothing more than mediocre wastes of time. And, every now and then, the boys at SW will slip up and unleash a real turd -- the kind of film that, though brief, makes me question my sanity and my will to live.
"The Brick Dollhouse", as you might have guessed, is a film like that.
If I may, I'd like to tell a story: Five years ago, I had the misfortune to stumble across an empty-headed waste of videotape titled "Bikini Traffic School". You may be thinking, "Why would you waste your time on a film with a title like that?" My only response is why wouldn't I? That's an awesome title. Anyway, about 45 minutes into the film, my cat discovers a cockroach in our apartment. She starts chasing it around and I end up missing portions of the bikini movie because I'm too busy watching her do something infinitely more entertaining. "Bikini Traffic School" was less interesting than my cat's pursuit of vermin. So understand the depths of my feeling for today's subject when I say that I would rather watch "Bikini Traffic School" again while bleeding from the head than suffer through the evil demon cock named "The Brick Dollhouse".
Now, I've seen films that were complete and utter failures before. We all have. But most films are usually failures on artistic or moral grounds. "The Brick Dollhouse" falls into a thankfully rare third category: Like "Zero in and Scream" and "Maniac Nurses Find Ecstasy" before it, this film is a failure on the most basic level of cinema. It simply cannot be called a movie except in the sense that it's comprised of a series of moving pictures. To call it a failure of artistic intentions would be to suggest that it had such intentions to begin with. Critics bemoan the lazy, cynical, no-brainer ripoff summer-movie actionthons of today, but even something like "Bad Boys II" has nothing on the breathtaking contempt for the audience a film like "The Brick Dollhouse" displays. This film was made to cheat people out of their money, plain and simple. No care or effort went into it -- it's product meant to fill out the lower half on a drive-in double bill. Observe:
- The film runs 57 minutes and is ostensibly concerned with the shooting death of a stripper. Of those 57 minutes, maybe 15 is spent on the framing device (including an insultingly simple wrapup) and the rest is nudie-cutie footage. However, no attempt to make any of it sexy or erotic has been made. At one point, we watch a character shower, dress, undress and redress... in real time from one fixed medium-length shot. I don't know about any of you, but to me there ain't nothing sexy about that. There's a point where nudity, when handled incorrectly, stops being indecent (and thus exciting) and starts being just another fact of life: Here I am, here is my body, here is what I look like unclothed.
- The framing device doesn't even make sense: There's a detective interviewing the roommates of the dead woman, and when they all go to tell about what they knew about her, the film jumps to flashbacks... of events that have nothing to do with anything other than they show girls partying and getting naked.
- The wrapup seems to happen almost by accident. What happens is one character whom we've seen maybe three minutes of wanders into frame and spits out what could be very loosely interpreted as a monotone attempt at a confession, then he's hauled away and it's over. Pick up your popcorn and go home, there's nothing else to see here.
- Near the end of the film, there's a scene that has the sound of crickets chirping on the soundtrack, indicating it's taking place at night. Problem is, whoever was supposed to put the day-for-night filter on the camera plum forgot about it, as we can see a shining sun and blue skies. A couple minutes later, it happens again.
I could go on, but I think I've gotten enough out of my system. (It's not like you're likely to see this anyway.) This is godawful even by the low low standards of '60s sexploitation. It may indeed be the worst example of the genre I've seen so far, and for those of you acquainted with David Friedman, that's a sad statement indeed. What scares me is the possibility that I may one day be burned even worse by this genre. God, I hope not.