In 2016 I interviewed and about their debut film, the dog-grooming video art fantasia She’s Allergic to Cats, which has since been released on video-on-demand and named an Apocryphally Weird selection. Four years later, we follow up to see how an alphabetization controversy impeded the film’s distribution prospects, Reich’s pooch Martin’s new career as a video star, and whether a gory marionette anti-marijuana film will be the duo’s next project.
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FEATURING: , Sonja Kinski, Flula Borg, Honey Davis
PLOT: Mike Pinkney is an aspiring director living in East Hollywood, where he dreams of making his passion project: a remake of Carrie featuring an all-cat cast. No one is interested in his work, so he makes ends meet by working as a dog groomer, where he meets a beautiful woman who improbably agrees to go out on a date with him. Unfortunately, his run-down rental house suffers from a rat infestation that threatens to ruin his big chance with his dream girl.
- Director Michael Reich and star Mike Pinkney had previously worked as co-directors on music videos for Ryan Adams, the Shins, My Chemical Romance, Yuck, and other bands.
- Reich wrote the part explicitly for Pinkney. They took acting classes together to prepare, which is where they met Sonja (daughter of Nastassja, granddaughter of ) Kinski.
- The movie was shot in Reich’s own house and neighborhood. Honey Davis, who plays the landlord in the movie, was Reich’s landlord at the time.
- Parts of She’s Allergic to Cats were inspired by director’s Michael Reich’s work as a dog groomer in Hollywood, where he expressed the anal glands of pooches belonging to George Carlin and Jake Gyllenhal, among other celebrities.
- It took the movie four years from its film festival debut to finally be released on video-on-demand.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: Take your pick from two briefly glimpsed images from the climactic montage: a naked woman holding a bowl of rotting bananas while rats crawl over her, or a naked woman whose upper half is a banana. We’ll accept either answer. (If you’re looking for a non-nude pick, Sonja Kinski posing seductively with a DVD of Congo is your go to).
TWO WEIRD THINGS: Sensual dog grooming instructional video; anal gland expression
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: In She’s Allergic to Cats, dog groomer Mike Pinkney bashfully confesses to “making weird video art that nobody wants to watch.” He’s wrong. Somebody wants to watch this portrait of a pathetic artist struggling to make an all-cat version of Carrie while dealing with a rat infestation and an internal video monologue that consists of glitchy nightmares run through a circa 1989 public access AV board. That somebody is you.
Original trailer for She’s Allergic to Cats
COMMENTS: The old writer’s cliche is to “write what you know.” The danger of this advice, of course, is that, if every aspiring writer Continue reading 6*. SHE’S ALLERGIC TO CATS (2016)
Raw audio of G. Smalley‘s interview with director and actor the new L.A. weirdo-underground romantic comedy/nightmare flick She’s Allergic to Cats. Since I didn’t introduce them properly, Pinkney has the slightly higher voice and is the one who says “thank you, so honored to hear that” at the beginning; Reich’s first line is “I’ll hold you to that.” Stick around until the end for a technical discussion of canine anal gland expression.
Other Fantasia 2106 interviews:
On Friday I had an interview with director Michael Reich and star Michael Pinkney, of She’s Allergic to Cats, the bizarre ode to the struggles of Los Angeles’ outsider creative class, scheduled for 2:00 PM. When I walked out of my late lunch I saw the gentlemen sitting in the hotel lobby with their publicist so I quickly introduced myself, and since they had nobody else scheduled at that time I was able to grab them early and ultimately spend an extra fifteen minutes with them. I’ll put the entire interview up next week, but here are the highlights.
Before I begin I should point out that, although Reich is listed as the writer and director, the pair have been used to working as a co-directing team on music videos before Cats. From their conversation it seems that Pinkney had, if not an equal, at least a very significant contribution to the movie’s overall conception. I start out by ingratiating myself, although I mean my opening sincerely: “I want to ask you guys a favor: please get this movie distribution, because I think people should see it.” They are both thankful, and Reich seems positive about their prospects.
I ask about the influences on the film, starting off with Doggiewogiez! Poochiewoochiez!, L.A. video collective “Everything is Terrible!“‘s remake of The Holy Mountain using heavily manipulated found footage of dogs. “We’re a fan of weird outsider tape culture and ‘Everything is Terrible!’ and stuff like that,” Reich admits. In fact, he came across the film because he unknowingly parked his van (marked “video van”) outside the Everything is Terrible! offices and someone left a courtesy copy on his windshield. Asked what their favorite weird movies were, Reich cites Kill the Moonlight, a 1994 underground film shot in “some Southern California oil town” that “captures the struggle and love of independent film.” Pinkney mentions Andrezj Zulawski (particularly Possession) and Ken Russell (particularly Altered States) as favorites. They also bring up the excised “Jupiter Ascending” climax to Phase IV, which the studio shelved for being too surreal, as an influence. An unexpected choice is American Werewolf in London, because of the love story angle. But mainly, the feature is an expansion of their work in the music video world.
In introducing the film at the world premiere the previous night, presenter Mitch Davis had said that “‘weird’ is hot right now, but most of the ‘weird’ movies are coming from vanilla personalities… These guys are the real deal.” I ask them if they think weird is hot. Reich talks about their experiences pitching music videos for local L.A. bands and how their ideas were always being rejected for being “too weird.” He says things started to change around the time Tim and Eric became popular, but they still had issues. Pitching a webseries, potential producers told them to make it more mainstream; then, they complained it wasn’t weird enough. “We were so outraged, we’d never been accused of not being weird before,” Pinkney laughs. They do demur when they make films and videos they’re not trying to be weird, they’re just trying to do stuff they like.
I mention that it’s hard to spoil the film because the title itself is a spoiler. “I think that creates some tension because you see these separate elements and you kind of know how their coming Continue reading FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL DIARY, 7/22/2016 (MICHAEL REICH & MIKE PINKNEY, PEDRO RIVERO, THE GREASY STRANGLER)