I am obsessed with weird movies, those films they call “cult” films because there is basically no other way to classify them, exploitation movies, films that are so bad they go past bad to good again, etc. I have seen my fair share of them and find myself to be pretty well-versed in the subject but GOOD GOD did I miss out on something. Up until recently, I had never seen BIG MEAT EATER.
I feel embarrassed that I hadn’t seen it til now because this is seriously one of the weirdest movies I have ever seen, and I LOVE IT. Alamo Drafthouse NYC (and more specifically Cristina Cacioppo, head of programming) brings such diverse offerings to their Weird Wednesday line-ups each month but this has by far been my favorite. I guess this is because I love Troma Entertainment, Weird Al, Devo, and Rocky Horror Picture Show. If you love any or all of those things, you will love this film.
BIG MEAT EATER could be described as an absurdist-horror-musical-comedy. If you didn’t know that was a sub-genre of film, I didn’t really either until I saw this movie. It has at least 5 full-scale musical numbers that are surprisingly well done considering this film had a micro-budget. The aliens in the film (which, of course this movie has aliens, why wouldn’t it?) are toy robots and the flying saucer is very reminiscent of Plan 9 From Outer Space.
My friend, musician/film critic/screenwriter Chris Shields hosted this weird Wednesday and had some great commentary before the film started. Read on for his take on BIG MEAT EATER.
Chris Shields: You are the true die-hards of Weird Wednesday because this is definitely a weird movie…I find this movie very interesting because I like movies where people make films where you don’t make films. This is a movie about Berquitlam, which is a small part of British Columbia and it’s described when you look it up on Wikipedia as being “next to the golf course” so this like really shitty nowhere place and these guys made this great movie which is at once a love letter to just being from a crappy town but also exploring a lot of interesting things about that.
The other thing that’s really fascinating about this movie is the star, the titular BIG MEAT PLAYER is played by Clarence “Big” Miller, He was a jazz/blues singer; he played with some of the greats. He was also a trombone player and he performed with Count Basie, Duke Ellington. The guy, if you ever listen to his recordings, has a great voice. He was a Blues Shouter, so he’s one of those people that didn’t use a microphone; his voice was just so powerful he could sing over the band.
He’s from the United States, the way he ended up in Canada was he was on tour with Big Joe Turner, another blues singer, and their tour ran out of money and he got stuck in Canada and he just decided “Okay, I guess I”ll just live here now”. So he became a Canadian national treasure. He went on to teach at a music school there and they built a statue of him and there was a documentary that was commissioned by the National Film Board of Canada because they actually give a fuck about movies there. They made a documentary all about him, so it’s really nice to see that Canada treated him way better than we did.
So, anyway, it’s super a super interesting movie. Chris Windsor is the director. Phil Levath, who wrote this, also wrote David Cronenberg’s Fast Company so he did something, you know, of interest besides BIG MEAT EATER. On a personal note, I really wanted to show this because this is one of those things that I found at a video store that was super weird and years later I didn’t remember if it was a dream or a nightmare or if I had actually seen this.
The circumstances under which I saw this were I was maybe about 15. My parents had gone away for the weekend for something, I don’t know. For some reason they would always get a hotel on their anniversary, which, I don’t know, I think we know what was going on there, but, whatever. Could you be a little bit more subtle, Mom and Dad? Anyway, they went away and my friends came over and we’re teenage boys, there was drinking, there was no drugs, certainly no sex, but we rented BIG MEAT EATER. Some people may say, “That’s pretty sad”. I think that’s pretty cool because this movie has everything. We didn’t need debauchery, we had TRUE independent cinema. Thank you.”
I count myself extremely lucky to be one of the people in the audience to see BIG MEAT EATER. It is hilarious and probably the weirdest Canadian film I’ve ever seen, if not one of the weirdest in the world. It’s also incredibly hard to find. Copies of the DVD go for more than fifty buck on Amazon. No streaming service offers it, but you can watch it on YouTube, if you so desire. I personally enjoy seeing films in the theater better, or on DVD, so that the artists can get paid, but if after reading this review, you feel like you must watch it now, you can find it after a good hunt. Also, be on the lookout for the film Chris Shields co-wrote Killer Makeover, in the near future.