A relic from the glory days of
Film Threat Video, who back in the
early 1990s put out some truly vital underground films. The 1991 horror/sci
fi/musical/comedy PUSS BUCKET was one such film, and while it isn’t in
the same league as other FTV releases like
RED AND ROSY and
it does have a definite psychotic charm.
PUSS BUCKET’S creator Lisa Hammer (credited as “Lisa
Houle”) partially financed the film by placing a classified ad in
Film Threat magazine promising to send nude pictures of herself to
those who donated money to her cause (Penn and Teller were reportedly
among the respondants), and then welching on the deal!
The resulting film, allegedly adapted “From the
Broadway musical,” was heavily promoted in Film Threat and its
sister publication Film Threat Video, but is now, like many FTV
releases, all-but completely forgotten. As for Lisa Hammer, she’s made
several subsequent underground films. Let’s hope she used more honest
means to finance them!
The dimwitted siblings Judas and Corned Beef live in a
rural house owned by their unseen grandmother, where they spend their
days watching televangelists on cable TV. One day an alien spaceship
turns up over their home.
These two freaks take to performing elaborate song and
dance numbers about their predicament (“It was here, it was here, and
now it’s coming...”). The aliens meanwhile attempt to figure out how
best to present themselves to Judas and Corned Beef, and eventually hit
upon a surefire method: they transmit an image of the Virgin Mary! In a
song the VM demands that J & CB, being “beautiful examples of immaculate
conception,” collect the “evil puss” emitted from “demons.” In other
words, she wants them to kill people. J & CB find a bucket to collect
the offending puss, and are off and running.
Their first victim is a young woman whose car has
broken down near their house. They stab her to death, and then lure a
naïve religioso to their home, where they tie the dork up and beat him
to death. Their next victims are two whores they pick up at an S&M club,
who they mutilate in gruesome (and largely incoherent) fashion.
At this point the aliens decide to leave Earth, and
transmit a final message to J & CB. This time the Virgin Mary informs
them she’s pleased with the job they’ve done so far, but now they need
to set their murderous sights on the corrupt youth of America!
Lensed in ultra-grainy black-and-white, PUSS BUCKET
clearly had no budget to speak of. The wide shots of the model house
where the protagonists supposedly live attests to that, as do the sound
design and dialogue editing, which rarely ever match the imagery. You
might also argue that the rambling and unfocused narrative, which runs
out of steam long before the end, is a product of the non-budget, and
you might be right. Viewed from one angle the film can be seen as a
quintessential example of no-budget amateurism, complete with
none-too-elaborate music numbers that play out exactly as you might
Yet there’s a definite cockeyed logic to the
proceedings. Lisa Hammer’s pointed use of repetition, oft-witty dialogue
and artful music video interludes (with tunes by the nineties punk bands
Sisyphus Autopsy, Flea Pillow, Beastovitch and Ant Farm) attest to a
warped intelligence at work behind all the insanity. It’s entirely
possible, of course, that this “intelligence” is actually the work of a
devious filmmaker attempting to convince us her no-budget example of
weirdness-for-weirdness’ sake filmmaking is more meaningful than it
actually is, but I say the mere fact that PUSS BUCKET inspires such
thoughts proves it has some worth.
Blessed Elysium Productions/Film Threat Video
Director/Producer/Screenplay/Cinematography/Editing: “Lisa Houle”
Screenplay: Lisa Hammer, Terrence Fleming, E.A. Hammer
Cast: Terrence Fleming, E.A. Hammer, Brian Sullivan, Gina Cammarotta,
Madeline Virbasius, Ultra Lavish, Evelyn Rosa, Onyx Coal, Walter Prince,