Tag: Movies

MOVIE REVIEW | Shut Up Little Man: An Audio Misadventure (2011)

In the early 80s, two broke ass dudes with no prospects moved into a cheap, run down San Francisco apartment.  Soon after, they realised the paper thin walls let them hear every argument their neighbours had.  And their neighbours had a lot of arguments.  Frustration at the noise gave way to being entertained by the bizarre vitriol, which gave way to absolute fascination with the two powder kegs of anger, insults and abuse.  Then, the two broke ass dudes pressed record on their cassette deck and cult following was born.

Shut Up Little Man: An Audio Misadventure is the story of those two dudes, Eddie Lee Sausage and Mitchell D, and their two angry, drunken neighbours, Peter Haskett and Raymond Huffman.  Peter and Raymond are dead…  Eddie and Mitchell have grown up, moved on and started families since their time in the cheap, run down San Franciscan apartment, but it seems like they are forever tied to the Shut Up Little Man phenomenon they were all a part of all those years ago.

Peter and Raymond were two alcoholics who shared an apartment despite seeming to despise one another.  Eddie and Mitchell built a collection of dozens of cassette tapes of the venomous arguments their neighbours would have.  Homophobic slurs, threats of physical violence and continued use of the phrase “shut up little man” filled hours of tape.  Hours of tape shared by their friends.  Hours of tape that found their way all over America via an underground market of found audio enthusiasts.

While Shut Up Little Man uses the story arc of these four men for its main narrative structure, it also uses it to ask questions about the ethics involved in recording someone, who owns the rights to the audio and what obligation the recorders have to the recordees.  It also addresses the fact that these questions are much more relevant today with modern technology making it so simple for absolutely everyone to record and share every aspect of their life.  Thankfully, it doesn’t spend too much time on these questions, because the hilarious and tragic story of Peter and Ray is just too good to stray from for too long.

Although, the sequence involving Eddie, Mitchell, a play write, several movie producers, and everyone screwing everyone while they try to make movie deals behind each other’s backs is pretty great.  It’s the classic story of a little bit of fame helping people discover their inner asshole.  And that’s always entertaining.  Especially when the snippets you see of the eventual movie make it look so terrible.  Everyone loses because no one wanted to share.

Shut Up Little Man became an industry.  Comic books, plays, movie deals and an ongoing source of income for Eddie Lee Sausage have all sprung from two people recording two other people arguing.  And the fact that this happened long before camera phones and Youtube really is amazing.

Even with Peter and Ray no longer alive, director Matthew Bate finds a way to add some sort of closure to their story and in a way, even almost give them a happy ending.   Did Eddie and Mitchell exploit two vulnerable men?  I don’t know.  Peter Haskett didn’t seem to worry about it, so I guess we, as an audience, can relax too.

Shut Up Little Man: An Audio Misadventure
Directed By – Matthew Bate
Written By – Matthew Bate

MOVIE REVIEW | Houseboat Horror (1989)

Houseboat Horror

If you’ve been kept up nights wondering, what would it look like if Animal from Hey Hey It’s Saturday fisted a bongo, you are in luck.

Houseboat Horror opens with several car loads of people making their way along country roads to Lake Infinity.  As one bloke puts it, their purpose on the lake is, “Just shootin’ a rock clip for a music group that plays at the underground disco”.  One of the cars picks up a hitchhiker, they let her off on the edge of the lake to go find her boyfriend who’s already made camp.  When she does find him, he’s been freshly and brutally killed with an arrow, or stick, or something to the throat.  His missus tries to run away, but she cops it too.

The music group who play at the underground disco arrive lakeside and so do the crewmembers who’ll be shootin’ the rock clip.  There’s an obvious anti-film crew sentiment amongst the locals, but I’m sure that has nothing to do with the double murder in the opening minutes.  Or does it?  Yes.  Yes, it does.  Everyone boards a flotilla of houseboats and they make their way around the lake, drinking and rooting, rooting and drinking.  There’s something about the amazing 80s vibe of Houseboat Horror that makes “rooting” the only appropriate word for the brand of boot knocking on display.

People die, a lot, but I generally had no idea who.  It’s like the screenwriters made sure they had maximum cast for maximum body count, but never worried about even minimal character development.  I really have no idea if the core group consisted of one blonde woman and one brunette woman, or several of both varieties that I just never differentiated.

If you ever watched Australian TV in the 80s, you’re in for a treat, because Houseboat Horror is a cavalcade of has beens, never weres and “that guys”.  You have the afore mentioned Animal (drummer for the house band on Hey Hey It’s Saturday), Jim from Neighbours, Gavin Wood (the voiceover guy from Countdown) and a soundtrack by the Uncanny X-Men’s Brian Mannix.  Even John Michael Howson takes time way from his packed schedule of weight lifting, Muay Thai training and pounding vag, to film a cameo.

This movie really does tick all the miniscule budget horror boxes.  Shot on video ?…  Check.  Chintzy synth score ?…  Check.  Actresses not nearly hot enough for their sexpot roles?…  Check.  Animal from Hey Hey It’s Saturday fisting a bongo ?…  You better believe it.

Animal, Fisted Bongo
Animal, Fisted Bongo

There’s a lot to make fun of in Houseboat Horror, but the more I watched it, the more I found myself being impressed by its very existence.  Someone came up with this story and decided to sit down and write a feature length screenplay to tell it.  Someone liked that screenplay enough to co-direct it with the writer.  More than a dozen people gave up their time to act in it.  It was shot, edited, sold to a distributor and released for paying audiences.  There are thousands of frustrated film makers out there who would look down their nose and scoff at Houseboat Horror, but those same frustrated film makers will never have the balls to actually make their self-proclaimed masterpiece and put it out there for public consumption and public scrutiny.  But Kendal Flanagan and Ollie Martin did it.  They made a movie that I heard about and was able to buy on DVD in 2013, almost a quarter of a century later.  I’d call that a win.

Houseboat Horror
Directed By – Kendal Flanagan, Ollie Martin
Written By – Ollie Martin