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“The more beautiful, free-spirited women you can get into a low-budget film, the easier it is for the audience to forgive your script.”–Frankie Latina
DIRECTED BY: Frankie Latina
FEATURING: Randy Russell, Danny Trejo, Mark Borchardt, Barry Poltermann, Nikki Johnson, Michael Sottile
PLOT: CIA agent Stanley Cashay—the best in the business—is dragged out of retirement to recover a pair of stolen briefcases in exchange for the name of the operative who murdered his wife. A network of spies around the world assist him in his quest, while the cases repeatedly change hands in a bloodthirsty quest. When he discovers that they contain videos of sadistic ritual murders, Cashay is spurred to action.
- Latina has described the movie as his attempt to make his own version of his favorite movie, Apocalypse Now.
- The film is credited as being “presented by” adult film star Sasha Grey. Lending her name appears to be the extent of her involvement in the film.
- Danny Trejo filmed all his scenes in a single eight-hour stint before he had to catch a plane back to Los Angeles. These were the only scenes in the movie that Latina shot with on-set sound.
- Latina accomplished the Tokyo scenes by using the proceeds from his job at a casino to send actress Johnson and a cameraman to Japan to capture the footage.
- Most of the film was shot in Latina’s hometown of Milwaukee, and he takes advantage of some of the region’s architectural wonders to serve as the backdrop for his globetrotting hero. Among the locations featured in the opening credits are the dramatic angles of Santiago Calatrava’s Milwaukee Art Museum, the Domes of the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, and the Infinity Room at the notorious House on the Rock.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: It feels like half of Modus Operandi consists of people sitting around receiving phone calls. They’re just minding their own business, drinking cocktails or hanging out in a hot tub or drinking cocktails while hanging out in a hot tub, and then a phone call comes. This tic reaches its apotheosis when a man takes such a call while he is grooming himself and while his female companion is casually shaving her pubic region. She’s totally nude, her crotch is completely covered in shaving cream, and she’s right up in the guy’s face with it. It’s the most perfect example of this film’s unique blend of overt sex with zero sexiness.
TWO WEIRD THINGS: Casey Thunderbird requests the pleasure of Black Licorice’s participation in a spy venture; you got your porn audition tapes in my spy movie
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Modus Operandi feels like the movie you would get if aliens were asked to make a James Bond movie and did all their research by asking a drunk at a bar. With its intense focus on crowd-pleasing violence and nudity (of both the male and female varieties), it’s the cinematic equivalent of all dessert/no veggies, except the desserts were created on Nailed It! The infectious joy of making the movie is paired with an extraordinarily high level of amateurism, making for a movie that knows it’s ridiculous and yet somehow manages to become even more ridiculous in the process.
Original trailer for Modus Operandi
COMMENTS: Frankie Latina sets the tone before a moment of Continue reading 40*. MODUS OPERANDI (2009)