MOVIE REVIEWS

Thundercrack

7/10 NR

Wikipedia

January 1, 1975

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Is it possible for a film to be too bizarre, too outrageous - even for cult audiences? That was certainly the case with this one, which was played briefly at midnights and drove people from the theaters in bewildered repulsion. But, then, it was ahead of its time. I had heard about it for twenty years before finally seeing it, and it was definitely worth the wait. You have never...and I mean never...seen anything remotely like Thundercrack.

This black-and-white underground film really defies conventional description, but let me try...It's mainly about Mrs. Gert Hammond (Marion Eaton), an alcoholic widow who lives in a large house on the prairie. She spends much of the film's opening scenes talking about her dead husband, Charlie. During a thunderstorm, several wayward travelers seek shelter for the night. There's a woman who bathes (and pleasures) the besotted Mrs. Hammond and speaks incessantly of religion; there's a gay hustler trying to go straight and the man who picked him up (who just lost his wife in a dreadful accident involving a flaming girdle); and there's a pair of young women whose car exploded after they picked up a man with two crates of stolen bananas.

The group spends the night speaking in ridiculous, hilariously melodramatic style about their various bizarre obsessions and having brief (but definitely hardcore) sex scenes in every conceivable permutation. Straight, gay, solo, and even with a gorilla. Yes, a gorilla. Let's move on...
During the course of the film, we learn that Gert's husband was torn apart by a swarm of locusts, and that his remaining body parts are pickled in the wine cellar. Gert also has a son, who was a sex-fiend and had a room full of toys to enhance his solo fun. Gert watches through a peephole as her guests enjoy themselves in the toy-room while pleasuring herself with a large cucumber. We then learn that the boy went to the tropics for exotic accoutrements, where he contracted elephantiasis of the testicles. Gert keeps the freaky mutant in a locked room for his own protection.
The fun really starts when a circus worker named Bing (George Kuchar) shows up. Bing tried to run his truckful of animals off the road because he didn't want them tortured by crippled children at an upcoming fair. The animals (who are roaming free outside the house) include a gorilla named Medusa, who happens to have an insatiable lust for sex with men. The houseguests spend the rest of the film trying to stay safe from the animals while indulging their personal obsessions and keeping Gert away from her trusty meat-cleaver. The hitch-hiker gets the hustler to submit to being his butt-toy in exchange for his crate of bananas so the young man and his new-found girlfriend can get away. Things really get silly when Gert puts Bing in a wedding dress and marries him to the gorilla.

It's really pointless trying to summarize any more of this hallucinatory plotline, so let me just say that if you're looking for something funny, weird, and absolutely extreme, this is the movie for you. It flows a lot like a dream - one character will say or do something completely insane and the others will accept it as if it was perfectly normal. One is reminded of Bunuel's Phantom of Liberty as envisioned by John Waters. The grainy black-and-white photography and odd lighting add to the dreamlike effect, as does the film's extreme length. Luminous Video offers a 2-hour version, while Video Search of Miami reportedly has a 2-1/2 hour cut. It's never boring, though, and your jaw will be hanging open in amazement through most of it. George Kuchar's script is brilliantly surreal, and Curt McDowell directs with style belying the low budget. This is a movie that really deserves renewed life on video, and (now that it can find its intended audience) should become a cult classic.

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