Anthropologists thrill to discover a cargo cult, isolated tribes who, upon discovering that the modern world exists, attempt to lure the sky-gods to their island by building decoy planes out of reeds. Cineastes get that tingle from finding a cargo cult’s film equivalent, a truly outsider movie made by a lone auteur who, like the natives, has no understanding of the gears and switches that make a thing work.
These movies are never good, yet the effort is astonishing. Director/writer/producer/composer/production designer/editor John Rad moved from Iran to California in 1979 to make the brutal biker flick Dangerous Men. It took him over twenty years, and when the film finally paid its way into theaters in 2005, no one went. Two years later, Rad died of a heart attack at 70 years old.
The movie he left behind is a bizarre proof of Eisenstein’s Theory of Montage. We’re anxious to assemble these truncated kisses, screams, and stabbings into a plot, even though the actors don’t even breathe believably. This thriller about a shell-shocked sweetheart who avenges herself on rapists after thugs murder her man is a fascinating replicant of a real film. Regardless of what’s onscreen, the score is Eighties slap-bass. Men seduce ladies by chowing on their legs like an ear of corn, and in a romantic flashback, a girl crawls toward her fiancé and meows.
Yet to Rad, Dangerous Men was a life’s work, and to sit through it feels like honoring the dreamers of the world who at least get shit done. Is it terrible? Of course. Is there belly-dancing? Duh.
Written and directed by John Rad
Opens November 13, Videology