DIRECTED BY: J. William Carter (Billy Carter?)
FEATURING: Billy Carter, Larry McKellen, Bobby Cilantro, Stevie Dawson, Jimmy Howitzer
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: It’s certainly weird enough, but, although some of the animated sequences show talent, the live-action sequences are too amateurish, and more annoying than bizarre.
COMMENTS: I’m going to resist the temptation to start out this review with quips at the expense of the makers of The Casserole Masters, and instead give you some useful advice (for a change). Load up the movie (embedded below) and immediately skip to 24:30 for a short lecture by “Molcok the Owl” on the afterlife. It sounds like footage from a Scientology question and answer session, as the mild-mannered, mystical bird describes his visit to the interstellar Hall of Mirrors, a journey illustrated with swirling psychedelic patterns and egg-shaped spacecraft and sausages. If you enjoyed that, and maybe even if you didn’t, skip forward again to 52:05 (you’ll know you’re at the right spot when you see the proscenium floating in a blood red sky) for the strangest video Christmas card ever filmed, scored to “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and featuring a silent snowy forest, kaleidoscopic peppermint colored backgrounds, festive mushrooms, and a vintage Santa who bleeds from his eyes. These two short worthwhile segments, both animated, rescue The Casserole Masters from the “beware” rating it would otherwise earn. If I had tried to watch Masters from the beginning, without being obliged to review it, I would have given up within five minutes, because the rest of the movie looks like home video of some Dadaist frat boys noodling around on a Saturday afternoon. Recurring characters include a guy with a magic-marker mustache, Burger King crown, and a lobotomized smile, and another character who repeatedly babbles about being Batman; they stand in a room and giggle stupidly and howl abuse at each other. All voices are electronically speeded up or slowed down to maximize the irritation factor. The largest role goes to a sheriff with a shaving cream beard who delivers monologues praising religion and denouncing drugs, and plays a “knife game” with a tied-up prostitute in pasties and plastic trash-bag panties. An authority figure preaching virtue while practicing depravity: yawn. For the climax we learn the casserole recipe, which involves tentacles in oil and a wiener. The live-action segments look like footage Harmony Korine rejected for Trash Humpers as too repetitive and annoying. And yet, as insufferable as the live action scenes are, the “animated” sequences—which are just cutout images manipulated very simply, but effectively, with zooms and pans to create the illusion of movement—are interesting, reminiscent of a slower paced, weirder, and less witty iteration of Terry Gilliam‘s animation work for Monty Python. The animations are scattered throughout the movie, sometimes laid over the filmed material, but Casserole only heats up in those two extended segments cited above. Stretching for something else to praise, I’ll mention that the synthesized score by Blue Fiction is actually very good. Still, there’s about ten minutes of worthwhile material buried inside of seventy minutes of avant-garde dreck. It may work reasonably well as background wallpaper for an acid trip, though, which may well be Casserole Masters intended route of ingestion.
We’ve embedded the video below for your convenience, but we found the playback on blip.tv to be sporadic, particularly if you try to use the slider to fast forward the movie. If you’re having trouble watching the embedded video you can try viewing it on the Casserole Masters homepage. It may also help playback if you let the file load on the page for a while before hitting “play.” Good luck!