Zazongpari Image


By Michael Talbot-Haynes | August 16, 2022

Deep in the outlaw film zone, you sometimes come across something so strange it defies vision. You literally can’t look directly at it, or it’ll grab your mind and fly off with it. Such movies don’t just recreate madness, they are crafted from raw insanity. Writer/director/actor/stuntman Martin Helstáb’s bat s**t odyssey Zazongpari is one of those pictures.

The story follows a scavenger monk (Helstáb) on his quest through an enchanted forest, fighting monsters along the way. That’s about it. It sounds like the premise of an old 1980s video game, and that is exactly how it plays. The monk enters the screen on one side and works his way to the other, having to fight a creature or jump a river to get there, just like how we used to rock out to Smurf: Rescue from Gargamel’s Castle on the Colecovision back in the day. To his credit, Helstáb does employ some cool over-the-shoulder angles and some dandy forced perspective.

The entire production was done with Helstáb in front of a green screen, superimposed over the 8-bit-inspired visuals. The monsters are crude graphics that don’t have moving limbs, though they do have lightning bolts fly out of them sometimes. There is a floating ancient idol in a waterfall that may be the monk’s friend or enemy. The movie ends after nearly 90 minutes, once the audience runs out of quarters.

“…a scavenger monk on his quest through an enchanted forest, fighting monsters…”

Zazongpari is a goofball epic that never takes itself seriously. Its mission is to patch together a feature-length film with as few resources as possible. The filmmaker fully embraces the public-access television production value levels, leaning into the gross artificiality. The mighty warrior dialogue is laced with obscenities and slang. This levity over its own worth makes the film work so effectively. One masterstroke element is Helstáb pantomiming walking while standing in place, with the superimposed image moving across the screen instead. The obvious fakery remains funny throughout, as the director makes it until he fakes it. Some of his superimposed effects are surprisingly hypnotic, especially the river. They look great when you are stoned.

In fact, this offbeat fantasy is one of those movies that may only work if you are stoned, like 200 Motels. What would be tedious to a clear perspective gets fascinating after a lung full of serious puff puff. The more you smog, the more Belushi-like the monk’s adventures become. It works well playing in the background of a smoking session, as attention will drift smoothly across the images on screen until the story makes another quick grab for your sanity. If you really like to party, you can play the stereo at the same time while watching it and miss nothing, just like John Landis’ The Stupids, another famous goofball epic.

It is inevitable that a feature made of flaws would have some, and Zazongpari does. Its main weakness is the monk wins every single battle with each monster with ease. Yes, he is indeed a great warrior, but after a while, you wish the monsters could at least land a blow or two in order to keep it interesting. While walking in place is a giggler, the waving of a plastic sword in the air until a monster graphic fades away falls flat after the fifth time. It would have worked better if the monk had gotten roughed up a lot in the beginning and then defeated the beasties at the end. It is similar to watching someone who has mastered a video game play through it while never getting a scratch.

Also, something else should have been added to the non-moving monsters, as you can only glamorize lameness to a certain point. But, to be fair, this is more evidence that Zazongpari isn’t so much a cinematic story as it is marijuana paraphernalia. It will not engage your intellect, but it will enhance your recreational nerve adjustments.

Zazongpari (2022)

Directed and Written: Martin Helstáb

Starring: Martin Helstáb, etc.

Movie score: 6.5/10

Zazongpari Image

"…gets fascinating after a lung full of serious puff puff."

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