CAPSULE: RETARD-O-TRON III (2013)

Beware

DIRECTED BY: Roelwapper (editor)

FEATURING: Merrill Howard Kaelin (archival)

PLOT: A collection of grotesque video oddities, crazy b-movie clips, fetish porn, shock pieces, and public access embarrassments.

Still from Retard-O-Tron III

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Even if it weren’t primarily focused on the sick instead of the weird, there isn’t a high enough percentage of original material (maybe 10-15%?) in this mixtape to qualify for the List of the Weirdest Movies ever made.

COMMENTS: In my review of Sweet Movie I wrote, “…no one wants to see Sweet Movie for its political philosophy. We want to see beautiful women writhing nude in liquid chocolate, gold-plated penises, and uninhibited orgies that go far beyond our deepest desires.” Retard-O-Tron embraces that shortsighted anti-philosophy wholeheartedly, and to prove it they include, among other atrocities, a clip from Sweet Movie‘s food fight/orgy with bald anarchists spitting pasta on each other and puking while pretty Carole Laure watches on in a catatonic daze. This mixtape isn’t pitched so much as a movie or an artistic endeavor as it is a dare, like peeking at a hobo’s rotting corpse discovered under a bridge. For those who think they’ve seen everything and can’t get it up for regular sleaze anymore, here’s your chance to gaze at humanity at its filthiest and most debased, with puke porn, geriatric porn, midget porn, scat porn, fake bestiality porn, stupid people being exploited for your amusement, and general nastiness. Although it’s XXX-rated, the explicit fetish parts are generally hit fast rather than lingered over, because the movie aims to arouse your disgust, not your lust. Granted, it’s not all bad: a good portion of the offerings are actually absurd/weird rather than sick/depraved. Alongside Sweet Movie, readers of this site may also recognize surreal body horror clips from Funky Forest and insane eyeball-kaiju battles from Big Man Japan among the cooler, tamer bits. B-movie madness is also a big running theme; there is out-of-context oddness from Indonesian fantasy movies, and I recognized scenes from Lou Ferrigno’s Hercules, the golf-cart chase from Space Mutiny, and some “gotcha!” scenes from Night of the Demons 2 amidst the debris. One of the most unintentionally nightmarish segments comes courtesy of notorious Christian scare-film preacher Estus Pirkle (If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?), who describes paradise in ridiculously materialistic terms (he claims the heavenly city is fourteen-hundred times larger than New York City) before trotting out a dwarf woman confined to a wheelchair who belts out a surprisingly assured (if high-pitched) gospel number. The depressing, washed-out color, bizarre theology, and wide lapels on a powder blue suit mark this sermon as something that seems like it could only originate from the alternate reality of 1970s post-late show UHF filler. Although some of the video is edited into montages or otherwise altered (the wittiest bit is an anus superimposed over Tom Cruise’s face), for the most part the material is presented as is, in apparently random order. Although the anarchic flow of the material may be intentional—it keeps you off guard, and you’re always dreading that the next clip will come from a snuff film—it makes you long for the artistry of more artistically inclined found-footage specialists , who arrange their edits thematically and with a satirical vision in mind.

Besides porn and B-movies, the other major source of footage is cable access TV clips; these often fall flat (how many bad soul singers or Christian folksingers can you tolerate?) But public access also lends Retard-O-Tron III its most problematic segments, those featuring mentally disabled chef Merrill Howard Kaelin, who hosted an unhygienic amateur cooking show where he ruined dishes while muttering to himself and occasionally drifting off into deranged impressions and childlike bouts of giggling. That wouldn’t be too bad or offensive in itself, if Kealin were just left to do his thing and we were left to observe him as a case study in eccentricity. What’s upsetting is the sarcastic introductory narration supplied by the Retard-O-Tron staff: “Buried below the pedestrian boob could be found an underlying seething fury, a fury focused at the very curse of living and all that it had done to wrong and frustrate his character. There is soul, grace and power in each deliberate movement, in each syllable…”. Was this ironic commentary added because the mixtape makers really think it’s funny and the natural reaction to Kaelin’s antics? Or did they feel that the audience needed permission from an authority figure (the eloquent narrator) to allow themselves to lighten up and laugh at the disabled? Or did they think that just the Kaelin footage alone was insufficiently shocking, and it needed to be punched up with the taboo-breaking outrage of mocking the mentally deficient? None of the possibilities are flattering, and the inclusion of this commentary (which happens six minutes into the movie) reveals a hopelessly callous attitude that poisons everything that comes after. The entire project is thereafter infected with a heartless, sociopathic tinge that goes beyond the merely juvenile persona they hope to project. The essential problem with getting hooked on the shock aesthetic for its own sake is that once you’ve liberated yourself from the irrational “bourgeois” social restraints, you’ve got no way left to get your kicks except by shattering the necessary and rational ones, like respect for the less fortunate. Retard-O-Tron III‘s unthinking rejection of basic human empathy is what earns it its “beware” rating. With a few snips, it might have been a compilation 366 could endorse, if not champion; but although I can overlook (if not forget, dammit) the scene of a pretty Japanese woman vomiting dinner up all over her date’s upraised face, I can’t condone adolescent cruelty masquerading as wit.

Retard-O-Tron III can be bought from Cinema Sewer. It’s understood that the description above, and the “beware” rating, will tempt many of you to try this out. Hey, it’s your soul—you want to kill it, it’s none of my business.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…mind-melting mixtape madness… can you stomach the avalanche of sordid perversion and perpetual uneasy feeling this collection posits?”–Lunchmeat’s VHS Blog

(This movie was nominated for review by Roel N [the creator]. Suggest a weird movie of your own here.)

DISCLAIMER: A copy of this movie was provided by the distributor for review.

3 thoughts on “CAPSULE: RETARD-O-TRON III (2013)”

  1. Why are you even reviewing this film? You know that discussing it at length on this website will increase its sales. There are plenty of people who deliberately go out of their way to watch movies which are “challenging” in the sense of being hard to watch for any reason, whether it’s extreme subject-matter, disgusting content, or being shot in such a way as to cause physical pain to your eyes. And quite a few of them visit this website.

    You’re reviewing a film you consider morally reprehensible for mocking actual mentally disabled people for cheap laughs in the knowledge that this will increase its profits and make Retard-O-Tron IV more likely to happen. And why? Because the person who made it told you to, and you MUST discuss any film nominated by anybody in the whole world, especially if they send you an unsolicited free copy, even if you don’t want to because you consider the film to be not just worthless but actually evil.

    Seriously, is there some sort of obsessive-compulsive thing going on here? If you knowingly contribute to the sales of a movie which you consider to be bad in the moral sense – which you just have – you’re doing something morally wrong yourself. And some guy calling himself “Roelwapper” who makes a living by laughing at the disabled is laughing at you too for being so easily suckered into giving a free plug to his foul movie.

  2. I didn’t know the exact content of the movie when I agreed to review it and it was not sent unsolicited. I stand by reviewing it, however, because I believe the value of discussing these things outweighs the danger of promoting them. An obvious example: I wouldn’t refuse to review Birth of a Nation because I knew Klansmen would think it was an inspiring testament to White Pride. Even bad art is useful when it engenders debate about why it’s bad. Pushing the boundaries of taste in art is useful because it helps us identify which boundaries really should be in place after all. The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.

    Also, to be clear, although I think the movie exhibits a morally bad attitude (in some ways—let’s not overstress this point and pretend that this was put together by inhuman monsters), I don’t think watching it is in itself a morally bad act, so I’m not contributing to bad behavior. (I’m quite sure no one involved in Retard-O-Tron makes a living making these mixtapes, so I’m not enabling them by potentially putting a few more dollars in their pockets).

    Finally, movies like this never get bad reviews, because usually the only people who watch and report on them are those already involved in the shock-aesthetic subculture. I am uncomfortable with the idea that no one would speak out against such abuses for fear of publicizing them. The morally objectionable part of the movie is really a tiny part of the whole. I focus on it, however, because I think it’s illustrative of the psychology behind this aesthetic, and the creeping callousness that using shock as a source of pleasure can create. I want to go on record as saying I think it’s dangerous to follow this “extreme” path to the point where you harden your heart, and start to value your own shallow entertainment above empathy for your fellow human beings.

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