Boogievision (1977)

Directed by James Bryan
Media Blasters DVD

A young man trying to make a movie gets involved in mega-shenanigans with strange producers, fickle/flaky actors & actresses and his own ambitions. Welcome to James Bryan’s own 8 1/2 or Stardust Memories or Cat In The Brain or Bloodstream or, possibly, that Sanford & Son episode with “Steinberg & Son” in it. Bryan goes all-out comedy in this one, sometimes in very strange ways. It’s the whirling world of semi-porno/semi-experimental films. The story of guys making movies that have all sorts of ambition but need to ladle on the nudity because the only people with cash demand naked ladies, skateboarding if possible. It’s a pretty wonderful look at Low-budget Hollywood of the early-70s.

And then, the “Boogievision” vignettes begin hitting us. It’s a bit tough to explain but imagine that you’re watching Boogievision on late-night TV and, randomly, there are strange commercials and ads or quick cuts to promos for the news. There’s an ad for The Excrementist Part II and random animated moments. There’s a great bit about vibrators. It’s as if Bryan took a copy of The Groove Tube or Kentucky Fried Movie and put his semi-autobiographical movie directly on top of it. Most of this is Bryan’s film but little sketches keep poking through. It’s odd and rather fascinating. In fact, I’d say that these moments are the most entertaining of the film.

The comedy of the main story has some good bits, too. Wisely, there is tension as it goes. The film within the film has to be done by a certain time or they’re all in trouble. But, I didn’t care about anyone in the movie and, during the last act, I started to wish for more vignettes. There is a wonderful chapter of a strange Saturday Morning serial with a naked lady wearing a giant lizard mask…narrated by Renee Harmon! (This film was, indeed, made over a long period of time.) But, it doesn’t quite zing like the other short sketches and parodies.

If the comedy moments (or characters) were a bit sharper or there were more vignettes, this would be a better comedy. (But, more vignettes might actually harm the dramatic flow of the movie.) Like quite a few comedies, it begins to run out of steam as it goes. At 81 minutes, it doesn’t quite stop dead but it starts to strain. A lot of the comedy in it is of the “point the camera at wacky people and let them do their thing” variety. And, it works for a time but wears me down a bit because I don’t actually laugh much. But, I am interested.

More vignettes would have kept me more focused but I do think James Bryan has made a worthy, entertaining film. I prefer the vignettes to the main story, though, because they seem like “Pure Bryan” to me.

I never, ever thought I’d see this film. I am very amazed that I have an official DVD of it. Looks and sounds exactly like I expected.

A whole slap of Media Blaster trailers.

Not my favorite James Bryan film but, if you’re a fan, this is fun viewing. And, if you’re a fan of that era of exploitation, this is also fun viewing. And, if you’re a fan of that somewhat elusive and completely awesome sub-genre of TV/movie parody films, you will enjoy portions of this. (In fact, it’s time for someone to write up something substantial about those films.) For anyone who didn’t think Bryan could make a “regular” film, well, here it is. Hellriders is also pretty regular but that’s another review.

The two things I love most about Boogievision are: 1. The vignettes. If only he had made an entire film like that… and 2. Spotting moments that link to other JB movies. Renee, of course. There is a commercial for a record by a rock & roll guy that uses a bunch of songs that sound almost like classic rock tunes. Executioner 2 and Frozen Scream seem to use some of those songs. “Jack Around The Shack” now makes sense. Also, the song at the end of Boogievision plays on the radio at the beginning of Lady Streetfighter. Putting the pieces of the Byran filmography together is a hell of a good time.