A Menagerie of ‘What!?’: The Meager Meal of the Mind of Carl J. Sukenick

DISCLAIMER: If the armpits and baffled bowels of D.I.Y. filmmaking aren’t your thing, neither will this blog entry be. If you are concerned with elements such as plot or character development, do not concern yourself with Carl J. Sukenick.

In a time where bad is just as good as good, the merits of a thing become difficult to discuss. Such is most definitely the case with writer/director/star Carl J. Sukenick.

Mutants, foreign enemies, turgid dialogue, stagnant camerawork, seemingly endless scenes of martial arts, coughing off-camera– these are a few things to expect from the films of Carl J. Sukenick.

Like Bigfoot, CJS is naturally blurry.

Sukenick is the anomalous auteur behind such shot-on-video features as Mutant Massacre, Alien Beasts, Mutant Massacre 2, The Toxic Retards, and Space Psychos 4. Dead Format Films released a movie recently called Psycho Space Demons, and how this differs from Space Psychos 4… I haven’t the foggiest. While we are on the topic, Mutant Massacre 1 & 2 as well as Alien Beasts are all different cuts of the same film. To explore further still shows that The Toxic Retards is also a salad of previously shot footage.

Is achieved cult status through awful filmmaking a success or a failure? Is it all based on the perspective of the individual? It appears that disaster artist himself, Tommy Wiseau, has embraced a backwards reaction caused by his now modern midnight movie staple The Room. Though it should be said that, with Tommy, nobody ever really knows what he is thinking.

It seems as though Sukenick is a Roky Erickson type in his real life, and his movies are his only connection to reality, which is a scary thought when you consider how distant from reality his movies are. In an interview with Sukenick that appears as a special feature on the DVD for The Toxic Retards, it is revealed that he is a schizophrenic and a born-again Christian. He smokes because “the apostles smoked” but he does not do any drugs or drink alcohol. He is not sexually active and he does not masturbate. He does swear and he makes these movies because Jesus wants him to. He claims to have made 65 features, most for only a couple hundred bucks, and calls them “The best movies you’ll see in your life.”

Pictured: The average viewer.

I will never forget my first viewing of Mutant Massacre. It was revelatory. Never have I felt so sublime. It was like watching a trainwreck… if the trains were transporting confetti and chicken vindaloo. My eyes were saucers but my pupils were hungry vacuums, sucking up all of the WTF they could. I will also never forget my second viewing: the Alien Beasts cut. This time I brought a guest along on the ride. This experience was better than the first, as I got to watch someone’s brain break in front of me. Then, I got to watch them attempt to reassemble their brain with old, dusty scotch tape, only to have it break all over again.

I know how you feel.

He uses no scripts or crews, his actors appear to be friends and acquaintances, and I’m fairly certain he just makes movies to get girls topless on camera, though he claims otherwise.

The conclusion I have come to is that Carl J. Sukenick is a goddamn hero. The bastion of hope in a hopeless world. If this man can continue to get distribution, so can we all.

God help me, I am going to try to see every Sukenick film ever made, even if it means I leave bits of my sanity behind in the process.

Stay slime, and be rad at all times!

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