• Wicked World (AGA) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: AGFA
    Releasing on: December 17th, 2019.
    Director: Barry J. Gills
    Cast: Barry J. Gillis, Eddie Platt
    Year: 1991
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    Wicked World – Movie Review:

    When you see that a movie was written, directed by and stars Barry J. Gillis, you best pay attention. Exhibit A: Wicked World, a passion project that Gillis took on after Things that was shot on 16mm in 1990 and then shelved for over a decade. It was also produced by a cab driver.

    It’s a movie that opens with the first of many quotes. This first quote is from one Dr. James John Guy, at least in the director’s cut it is. In the theatrical cut, the first quote is from Barry Himself and it’s about a boxer named Arturo ‘Thunder’ Gatti who was drugged and murdered in Brazil. Then we get the John Guy quote followed by a quote from Nick Palumbo and a quote from Black Sabbath. That’s right, we get two different cuts of the movie on this disc.

    Like Things, we get a neat fake news cast. It tells us about a murder before playing the hot new track from Marshall Law. In an apartment in Toronto, a guy messes around with a hot chick in a leather mini skirt on his couch while a guy with poofy hair and glasses watches from the other side of the room. She gets naked and we get a close up of her right nipple. Not her left though, just her right. The guy not touching anyone but getting all pervy in the corner has a gun. A guy who looks like Doogie Howser and his girlfriend come into the room and switch the channel on the radio. They start dancing to some terrible pop music while the couple on the couch keep on messing around. A middle-aged man in a gas mask watches all of this from the other side of a sliding glass door. No one notices him. Then the guy with the gun shoots the guy on the couch, he’s not happy he’s been fucking his sister. Then he shoots the dancing guy and the dancing girl and tells them ‘I’ve had it with this wicked world!’ We see weird fake lightning outside, then the guy with the gas masks cuts off the gunman’s head and then makes it into the shower and slaughters Ms. Right Nipple right there in cold blood.

    The opening credits role and then we meet a man named Harold (Eddie Platt) who is at a grave asking God why he kills. He’s the guy who just killed everyone and he will continue to kill everyone throughout this movie. He splits and picks up a blonde hitchhiker on his way home and they listen to Marshall Law in the car… until he turns it off. He gets weird and she escapes from the car and runs away but he gives chase and murders her in a phone booth.

    Cut to Harold at the Sunnyvale Mental Hospital. He’s in a wheelchair now, pushed around by a nurse as he doesn’t have the ability to do it himself. His narration tells him how he’s working on the best book of all time, seen through a killer’s eyes. Nearby, a bad guy robs a deli that has a poster for Things displayed on the door. Harold busts in and kills everyone. This is not being told in a linear fashion, these are flashbacks or hallucinations experienced by Harold at the hospital.

    Elsewhere a man in a red Ford Escort (with a license plate that says EDDIE 9) is tailed by Harold while Gills’ own metal jam, Living In A Red Zone, plays in the background. Mr. Escort has a trio of chicks with him. They arrive at a park and head outside to have some fun. Harold finds them and kills them all. There’s a recurring theme here at this point.

    Meanwhile, a cop on the edge named Grant Auckland (Barry J. Gillis) shows up at Harold’s place where his second wife gives him hot dogs and explains how Harold’s three daughters committed suicide. Blake thanks them for the hot dog and leaves. Harold scolds her for talking to another man and she tries to leave him, taking her young daughter with him. He kills them both.

    Cut back to the hospital where we learn Harold’s Spanish-looking nurse is named Nurse Latino and that he’s had a lobotomy. He then, through his narration, continues to pontificate about the state of the world, his hatred of his wheelchair, his hatred of himself, his hatred of nurses, his hatred of the blue sky and the green grass. Harold hates a lot of things.

    Clips from Things plays on a TV in a room where a redheaded dude and some friends smoke and drink. A few more people show up and a guy says ‘What’s happening, dudes?’ One couple heads upstairs and get it on while downstairs the redheaded guy pumps some iron. Harold show up and kills everyone.

    Enough of the play by play – that cop on the edge, Grant? Hot dogs or no hot dogs, after he bangs a chick at the halfway point he’s going to have to do something about some murders. Harold gets pushed down a slide in the present, kills some more people in the past and at one point talks to a shrink about his murderous impulses… and then kills her. Grant is tortured by his dreams, haunted by Brenda’s brutal murder five years ago. He can’t let go of his past. Brenda was his old flame, we see them make love in a flashback and then we see a high ranking cop with chubby fingers get yelled at over the phone while Grant listens from the other side of a desk. Brent and his partner are being let go for beating the crap out of some low-level hoods. Grant’s partner kills the commanding officer and then himself. This is all happening in flashback as well. Then we learn how, when Grant was fired, he went out that same night and had sex with three different women only to come home and find Brenda dead. The killer was there – it was Harold – and while Grant shot him, he survived. Now it’s time to settle this remarkably convoluted score once and for all, no matter who gets in his way.

    A truly bizarre hour-and-forty-one-minutes of ultra-low budget nihilism, Wicked World pushes aside the charming amateurism of Things in favor of a slightly more polished vibe and a much bleaker world view. Harold’s narration is all doom and gloom and Grant’s outlook on things isn’t really any cheerier. Gillis was clearly working through some demons with this one, and the results are as inspired as they are mesmerizingly fucked up. Characters aren’t always established, often introduced just to be killed off, but we do get to see Harold brandish some nunchucks at one point and the movie does stand as an interesting time capsule of early nineties Canadian culture and fashion (lots of mom jeans and mullets). It’s also got a pretty rad early nineties indie metal soundtrack mixed in with some synth work, some primitive but ambitious digital effects work that is about on par with the Polonia Brothers’ work in this regard in the early nineties, and a good bit more nudity than you might expect. All of these work in the film’s favor. We also get to see Barry J. Gillis eat a hot dog, a woman in the woods seductively eat a marshmallow and suicide by way of a toy Uzi.

    Sure, Harold’s narration may be more than a little repetitive and the editing is seizure inducing in spots, but this is a surprisingly ambitious picture in a lot of ways. Gillis doesn’t always hit what he’s aiming for but you’ve got to admire him for trying something so off the wall and with such complete conviction and seriousness. Are there moments here where you laugh at the movie instead of with it? Yep, but there are also some genuinely unsettling bits, like a scene where Grant is brutally beaten by a mob chanting ‘make a martyr out of him like Christ’ and ‘we all have to die some day!’ over and over again. The body count in the movie is insanely high and while the story ends at the 1:28 mark, when the narrative finishes we get a weird text bit about how the American government is putting chips into people to control their behavior and then the end credits – let them play all the way through to hear Barry’s ultimate power balled, On The Road To Sadness (the video for this song is amazing and it’s a shame that it was not included on this disc - check it out here). After that? More quotes! This time from Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P., and then footage of a goose swimming around with SAD SAD WORLD and BORN ALONE, DIE ALONE and things like that imposed over the footage. Then we get that quote from James John Guy again and those same quotes from Palumbo and Black Sabbath again. Cue the sounds of a bird cawing, lighting crashing and then a final quote from a poem called Factory Life penned by Gillis himself and we’re done.

    Aside from the different quotes in the opening, the director’s cut (1:40:52) also features a different music and audio mix than the original version (1:41:55) and some other editing differences but they’re minor, the end result of the movie is the same. The end credits in the director’s cut also chop out the Palumbo and Black Sabbath quotes.

    Wicked World – Blu-ray Review:

    AGFA brings Wicked World to Blu-ray on a 50GB disc with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer framed at 1.33.1, the film’s original aspect ratio. The movie was shot on 16mm but edited and finished on tape, and it’s a tape that this transfer is sourced from. The original cut is grainy and gritty looking, the director’s cut has been DNR’d to death and it looks like wax. Neither transfer is great, which is understandable given how it was made, but the original cut definitely looks more filmic.

    Audio chores are handled by a DTS-HD 2.0 stereo track that sounds pretty rough. On the original cut, much of it is echoey and thin sounding, at times quite hard to hear. It’s better on the director’s cut but still less than ideal. The music sounds fine, but the dialogue can sound a bit garbled. Thankfully, AGFA has supplied optional subtitles for the feature.

    There are a lot of extra features on this disc, starting with Reality: Behind The Scenes Of Wicked World, touted as ‘a feature length odyssey by Barry J. Gillis!’ This baby clocks in at sixty-minutes and it opens with a barrage of clips from the feature and some behind the scenes shots before, well, staying that way basically. This is an hour of behind the scenes material that shows Gillis directing his cast and crew on set, completely naked ladies running about, lines being practiced, scenes being rehearsed and beers being consumed. Gillis complains about not getting a break at one point, and appears fairly stressed in most of this footage, particularly at one point where the cameraman runs out of film. He occasionally talks to the camcorder pointing towards him, at one point explaining the plot of the movie and the moral of the story, we see people getting into makeup, we see love scenes being tenderly staged, a dance scene is choreographed on the fly and, just as it is in Things, we see people hanging out in a kitchen.

    Up next is the video for Marshall Law song directed by Gillis. A text scroll comes before the video where Barry explains that his producer, who was a cab driver, picked up a musician from a band called Marshal Law who got him a tape to get to Barry for inclusion on Wicked World. Barry, being a fan of quality metal, liked what he heard. He made a deal with them to edit some previously shot footage into a music video in exchange for being allowed to use their music in his film. There are, oddly enough, clips from Wicked World included in the video, complete with time code. This was recorded off of a Much Music broadcast and comes complete with a brief VJ intro. Most of the footage is the band rockin’ out on stage but there are random clips of a hot chick on a motorcycle here and there.

    Moving right along, we get the original trailer, unseen since 2006! It’s a two-minute spot that is almost fifty percent credits, with the rest made of up random clips from the film set to some really distorted narration that is hard to understand.

    The Tribute To Eddie Platt featurette is a two-minute piece where the late actor’s son, Stuart Platt, speaks in front of a green screen with footage of his dad behind him from the film. He talks about his dad’s love of horror films, the influence he had on his life growing up, how he met Barry and how he wound up in Wicked World and how much fun he had working on the picture, some of which was shot in his backyard.

    Last but most certainly not least is Tomorrow’s Dream: The Legacy Of Barry J. Gillis, a twenty-four-minute piece that starts out with some of Barry’s own quality metal sounds playing over top of a quote from Black Sabbath before bringing us face to fucking face with the man himself for a ‘5 movie update.’ Here, Barry brings us up to speed on his latest projects. He talks about Intervision’s release of Things and how the cult keeps growing around that one, how he wound up getting connected to the guys from ‘The Bleeding Skull’ which led to them working together on Wicked World after Barry ‘emailed the email.’ Then we head into Barry’s editing room to see the changes that were made for the director’s cut of Wicked World, before he talks about the problems that he ran into during the making of the film. He notes that he shot it in 1990, how he shelved it after that for a few years, how he screwed up the sound on the first release, the late Eddie Platt’s role in the film, how he made The Killing Games later in 2012 (which looks to have a lot of rape, violence and vomiting in it) which he hopes to get distributed soon, how he then made House Of Many Sorrows (which he is shopping around for distribution) staring Ginger Lynn Allen and Tom Malloy (we get to see a trailer for it), and then his latest endeavor, Tales From The Dead Zone. We get some clips from this latest effort as well, which stars Corey Feldman, Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart and Len J. Phillips, who just happens to appear at the end of the featurette. It ends with a random bit from AGFA promoting The Dragon Lives Again and talking about Brucesploitation movies. Also, if you look carefully, you’ll see Steve Harvey on the TV behind Barry at one point.

    Menus and chapter selection are also provided and as this is a combo pack release we also get a DVD version of the movie. On top of that, AGFA provides some reversible cover sleeve art.

    Wicked World – The Final Word:

    Wicked World is one of the strangest passion project films you’re ever likely to see. It’s bleak, nihilistic and twisted but so too is it so completely off the wall that you can’t help but get wrapped up in all of it. AGFA’s done as good a job as possible with the presentation given the film’s production history, and thrown in some choice supplements too. Not a film for all tastes, mind you, but if you get off on low budget insanity and heavy metal soundtracks, you really do need to give this one a shot.

    Click on the images below for full sized Wicked World Blu-ray screen caps!