Another Son Of Sam (1977)

Directed By Dave A. Adams
Something Weird DVD-R
Buy it from Something Weird!

I’m not usually the night-clubbing type. But tonight was different.

Up the street, Johnny Charo was performing at the Treehouse Lounge, an exotic-themed hangout for blue collar romantics. I couldn’t resist. Soaked in cigarettes and Monsieur Houbigant cologne, the Treehouse Lounge welcomed me with open arms. I almost danced. I refused hi-fives. I smiled and sipped my drink while a ratty print of The Zodiac Killer unspooled against a wood-paneled wall. Then, the weirdest thing happened. Midway through Johnny’s second performance of “I Never Said Goodbye,” his mouth froze in place. But, I could still hear his voice. Everything began to move in slow motion. The exact same images kept repeating…and repeating…and repeating. What was going on? It hit me.

I was so completely enthralled by the opening minutes of Another Son Of Sam that my intra-spatial form had been transported from couch to Treehouse Lounge without my conscious knowledge. The movie may have started, but I couldn’t prove it. That’s what I call potent filmmaking.

After Johnny Charo’s performance and some super sweet speedboat jumps, Harvey escapes from a mental institution. He’s clad in moccasins, pleated slacks, and a Sears dress shirt. Soon after, Harv makes his way across a park, possibly killing someone in the process. A very special chase ensues. The cops interview people and a girl named Tina is obsessed with money. Eventually, our baggy-eyed psychotic makes it to a girl’s dormitory, where the ineffectual cops form a stakeout. Harvey makes hostages of the ladies. Then, a two-man SWAT team is called in. They scale walls and look at their guns. It’s all pretty goddamned captivating.

Filmed in Charlotte, North Carolina by one-time director-writer-producer-editor-stunt coordinator-casting director (sonofabitch!) Dave A. Adams, I’m hard pressed to think of a film that intentionally disconnects itself with such fixed assurance. Scotch-taped and showing it, Another Son Of Sam relies on awkward, mid-sentence freeze frames, drunken camera stumbling, and ambient noise to construct a confused facsimile of an actual film. Dialogue is nearly impossible to comprehend and several shots obsess over inanimate objects, if only for a second or two. Cloth-covered audio tracks, pantyhose-lined visuals, misunderstood emoting, endlessly strange title cards — it’s the film that dares you to watch.

Yet, that’s the attraction. If it wasn’t for the bizarre gracelessness on display, our pal Harvey and his pithy, bloodless story would shiver up into a boring void. Unintentional or not, there’s nothing quite like losing yourself in a dirt cheap film that makes no qualms about misplacing reality. Even the title means zilch in the context of the film.

Johnny, don’t ever say goodbye.

For years, we’ve contended with the terrible-yet-beautiful Neon Video VHS of Another Son Of Sam. Surpassed only by Saturn’s Blade Of The Ripper in terms of total incomprehensibility, it’s a marvelous piece of work. Still, the question lingers — was this Dave Adams’ intention, or the exclusive puttering of the A/V artistes at Neon Video? Both, actually. Something Weird’s print is terrific. Identical to the 74 minute Neon print, yet still retaining the grit, Another Son Of Sam suddenly looks like a real movie. It’s crisp, consistent, and saturated with smeary blues ‘n’ greens. Plus, all of the ridiculous true-crime title cards are now legible. One says, “December 1977, Los Angeles, California — The Hillside Strangler strangled eleven women?” Another says, “George Metesky — 1940-1950′s New York’s The Mad Bomber”. I say, “Dave Adams, Unfettered Genius”.

Sixteen trailers follow the film. I’d already seen most of them, so I spent 30 minutes fondling my second Neon clamshell copy of Another Son Of Sam, which I got on the Amazonz for $790. It’s in mint condition. I traded in my car and sold my dog to get it. JEALOUS MUCH?

Take a whiff of the Houbigant. If I was forced to make a list of the ten most gratifying, regeneratively inspiring trash discoveries from the past decade, Another Son Of Sam would be on it. From the non-true-crime deception to the surreal abandonment, the film often feels like Dave Adams asked me what I would like to see in something called Another Son Of Sam, and then made the movie. Granted, your experience may not be similar to mine. But isn’t it worth it to find out?