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By Dr. Rhonda Baughman | April 22, 2014

While my webmaster cobbles together the audio/video from my April 6th, 2014 Cinema Wasteland interview with reclusive filmmaker Bill Zebub, I am here for Film Threat to review two of the eight gifts Zebub himself bestowed upon me after the interview.

Initial assumptions, such as box cover art and other critics, indicate I might never recover from the trauma of viewing these films, but I had a most excellent time interviewing Zebub, so I just bet I will be surprised by the two films I have chosen to review. Zebub is crass and funny, benevolent and energetic. Also, he smells really nice. I rarely lean in to sniff a stranger’s hair, but I was standing next to him, a gentle scent wafted over, and so I leaned in a little closer.

Zebub noticed, but decided to play along and allow me to guess the non-feminine, but not overly masculine scent. He left me guessing. Perhaps I will just have to visit a film set and, you know, excuse myself to use the restroom and take inventory of all items. I am a journalist. I am not above potty inventory and stalking.

Love him or hate him, understand him or revile him, you still need to know about Zebub’s filmography. lists 38 movies to his credit as director. It’s important to document film-making in the 21st century, both for quality control and due to the sheer (and seemingly insurmountable) volume of films released that can often, whether deservedly so or not, disappear without a trace. You’d think perhaps it might be more difficult to disappear in our hyper-vigilant, NSA-tracked, BIG BROTHER society; however, I’ve noticed controversy causes just as many folks to vanish as it does to show up in an endless, overexposed loop on Facebook/TMZ-esque “news”feeds.

You’ll need to know three things immediately: First, Zebub’s films are often over-the-top and controversial. Second, he finds many of his stupidly hot women (from the front; he’ll need Rachelle Williams for rear shots, except for one girl, with the pistol stilettos – now there’s an a*s) in the backwoods of NJ (or so he claims – I think he might have some sort of conveyor belt in his basement where he manufactures them). Third, screenings of his various films have caused walk-outs at Cinema Wasteland.

In other words, whether you appreciate his work or not, the man has shown consistency – in output and reaction – both great marketing moves. Think about the average attention span, passions and interests of the modern movie viewer – you almost HAVE to go for the roundhouse to the face, followed by a headbutt – in order to leave any type of mark, to dent the cerebral cortex, so to speak. It’s no longer enough to make the mark, you have to burn it into their skulls (and laugh, LAUGH while you get that flamethrower working) so they will remember your name and tremble when they see you coming next time.

Here are two films sure to make you tremble, in one way or another, when you see Bill Zebub coming:

Scienceless Fiction (2014, Running time: approx. 2 hours)

This is about some type of inter-galactic/dimensional voyage, naked women, and sociopolitical incorrectness. It’s what comes after metal – this film DOES contain a great metal soundtrack, too – let me just admit outright. And the flame-dancers section, while symbolic and aesthetically pleasing, is worth the price of the DVD alone. The women are so amazing in that scene, I even forgot what in hell’s name the movie was about. This is a good thing.

So, I’m not really sure why the word ‘n****r’ is still controversial in 2014, and probably neither does Zebub, which is why I suspect he chose to illustrate the absurdity of the word, its taboo, and again, overexposure. Yet I did hear immediate grumblings at the screening the moment the word was uttered in the first five minutes of the film. The word was often spoken by characters dressed as hybrid clowns/Nazis/historical figures. This does not offend me, but then again, I’m a literature and English instructor in my spare time. I understand this type of humor (for example, Nick Cannon in white face – I don’t find it racist, but I also don’t find it funny. But again, I understand this type of humor.) I also make my students analyze and research historical and current implications of the word ‘n****r’ when it does come up in class. Book learnin’ is a good thing.

Zebub’s symbolic use of war toys and googly-eyed eggs is not lost on me, but then again, I’m a literature and English instructor in my spare time, as previously mentioned, and I usually also teach the symbolism of the egg in classic literature (for example, Sherwood Anderson’s ‘The Egg’ and Georges Bataille’s ‘The Story of the Eye’), so this film is right up my proverbial and traumatized alley. Zebub himself would make a great instructor – and I might start to wonder if he actually wasn’t at some point, became disillusioned, and turned to film-making. I can relate.

This film, like most other Zebub epics, is way too long, a lesson in stamina, but I also suspect this is part of his joke. And in case no one gets the obvious joke, just email me and I will explain to you what it means to poke fun of the current state of movie-making and politics, while I poke a little fun at you, of course.

Stay for the credits. It’s a thing now. And certainly, stick around and check out the special feature ‘Total Metal Retardation’. It’s obvious where Bill Zebub’s heart really lies, all quiet and metal corroded. All of that too strong? Hit the trailers on the main menu. This will give you an idea of the Cult of Zebub.

Indie Director (2013, Running time: approx 95 minutes)

Zebub released a comedy in 2006, entitled ‘Assmonster,’ about the making of a horror film (but not about an a*s monster, pre-dating the awesome ‘Bad Milo,’ which was really about an a*s monster); this film is another making-of perspective for a more understanding audience, titled ‘Indie Director.’ And actually, from any angle, this film probably should be viewed by everyone in the industry and obvious proof that Bill Zebub knows exactly what he is doing.

Although meandering, this Zebub effort has more of a standard five-point plot structure/narrative than, say, ‘Scienceless Fiction.’ I’m not going to offer a repeat synopsis you can find online, nor am I going to critique Zebub’s work as a classic piece of movie-making. What I do recognize is that Zebub spends quite a bit of time and money on his passion, and this is something worth noting in the 21st century. I’ve grown tired of critics/reviewers who can only offer barely clever one liners disparaging a filmmaker’s work (or any artist’s work, actually). There’s no point. That type of journalism is not only all over the internet, it’s one of the reasons the internet is a graveyard of barely literate hacks – all of whom peck at keys, calling themselves writers, although no one else has legitimately validated that claim for them. I could make fun of all that even, but to what end?

I could also make fun of everyone hula hooping at the 2013 Cinema Wasteland, at about the 30 minutes mark of this film, but I won’t – I used to hoop when I was 8 years old, in my grandparents’ front yard – I get it. It’s all in fun, it’s all about people having fun, since it’s about the only thing that makes sense on this planet anymore – and it is a lost and dying art at that – fun. Bill Zebub found it – found out how to do it. ‘Indie Director’ may not be great, but by God, it’s true, it’s insightful, and it’s fun. Ed Wood fun. Mark Baranowski fun. Henrique Couto fun. And mercifully, right now, not Lars Von Trier fun. Don’t believe me? The ‘jazz hands’ rant at the 46 minutes mark – that’s the kind of fun I’m talking about. However, the 53 minutes mark hurt – as it was so true – from the point-of-view of an indie actress, which I do have some familiarity with.

But this hurt, this sadness, is also a good thing!

It is possible, to experience a wide-range of emotions while watching a Zebub film – and not just disgust, but genuine humor, sadness, and revelation. That is also what independent film-making is all about.

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