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Bazaar Bizarre

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  •  
    Mark Tolch
    Senior Member

  • Bazaar Bizarre




    Released By: Troma Entertainment
    Released On: 03/08/2011
    Director: Benjamin Meade
    Cast: James Ellroy, Chris Bryson, Bob Berdella

    The Film:

    When reviewing films, it's often difficult to not place one's personal feelings in the context of the review. Sometimes, the overwhelming emotion that one experiences when viewing a film can be suppressed when discussing it, and sometimes it can not. On the flip side of that coin, sometimes these emotions should be discussed, and Benjamin Meade's film Bazaar Bizarre is one of those times. Acting as a documentary and purporting to tell the tale of Bob Berdella, a Kansas City serial killer, Meade inspires both shock and anger. These emotions, however, are not a product of the subject matter, which is gruesome and terrible, but of the film itself, which is one of the most ridiculous true-crime stories ever put to DVD.

    What you should know about Bob Berdella is that he was apprehended by police in 1988 when one of his victims, Chris Bryson, escaped from Berdella's house of torture wearing only a dog collar. Thanks to the numerous Polaroids and detailed notes that Bob kept, police were able to link him to a number of other crimes involving the abduction, torture, and murder of other young men, including some male prostitutes. Exhumation of Berdella's back yard found few human remains, and Berdella claimed that he routinely dumped bodies out on the curb for regular trash pickup. The owner of a small shop that dealt in masks, skulls, and occult merchandise (named Bazaar Bizarre), Berdella was convicted and died in prison at age 43 of a heart attack.

    Meade's “documentary” does cover some of this material, and he has managed to include some brief interviews with survivor Chris Bryson, and others who knew Berdella before and after he was convicted. The worthwhile parts of this film, though, are buried in an avalanche of useless garbage that makes the whole experience infuriating. Horrifically bad re-enactments of everything from the crimes to the court hearings drag the running time down to a crawl. Terrible actors using terrible dialogue loaded with forced profanity are on par with some of the worst high school drama performances. A grating soundtrack plays through most of the “crime footage”. Interviews with people who have only the slightest or no connection to Berdella are also eyebrow-raising; for example, a “Food Disposal Technician” describes how a garbage disposal unit works, and how it could potentially be used to grind flesh. For some strange reason, music videos featuring a group called “The Demon Dogs” also fit into the running time, for no apparent reason whatsoever other than to annoy. What appears to be actual crime-scene footage is interesting enough, but the fact that you'll have to sift through the Director's videos of what happened in Berdellas's house (including close-ups of somebody getting anally penetrated by vegetables) makes it a very un-worthwhile payoff. All in all, Bazaar Bizarre is a train wreck, one that you can and will want to look away from.

    Why Author James Ellroy chose to be involved with this project, he who penned L.A. Confidential, is confusing. His onscreen time is limited to firing out sound bites about the evil in the world, as well as his personal opinions on what drives serial killers. His name certainly lends credibility to the project, which in turn demolishes his credibility.

    Troma Entertainment has made a name for itself by releasing films that many would call intensely tasteless, but a number of those films have character, potential, or some example of talent. Meade's film is tasteless and lacks any redeeming value whatsoever. I hope that James Ellroy salvages a bit of respect by writing another great novel or screenplay, and I hope that Meade goes back to whatever he was doing before he decided to make films.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Much like the film, this DVD release from Troma was most likely produced with minimal effort. The film is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, and is NOT enhanced for 16X9 televisions. As a result, the picture is soft and sub-par for the most part, including more recent interviews. The rest of the footage is supposed to look grainy and does, though the grain and dirt will not mask how bad the performances and special effects are. The Dolby Digital stereo track is passable, and the dialogue is clear for the most part.

    Postmortem is an interview with the Cast and Crew, where they talk about making the film and share anecdotes with one another. It runs just over 9 minutes.

    Deleted Scenes features 7 minutes of scenes cut from the film, including another bad music video done with what looks like an on-board pastel effect, thus confirming its amateur hour status, and more of James Ellroy waxing philosophically about the subject matter. Remember, don't be a homosexual prostitute, because it's bad. Seriously; James Ellroy's advice is to not be a homosexual prostitute. Thanks, James.

    Tromatic Extras features the same extras that they put on pretty much every other disc, including Troma T&A, Lemmy's PSA on hermaphrodites, a clip of a Troma crew member simulating urinating in another crew member's luggage, as well as trailers for other films.

    Final Word:

    The days of The Toxic Avenger and Cannibal: The Musical have passed. Troma would do well to make more of an effort than releasing poor transfers of bad films with the same extra features that have already been seen time and time again. If you don't give this one a pass, don't say you weren't warned.











    • Todd Jordan
      #2
      Todd Jordan
      Smut is good.
      Todd Jordan commented
      Editing a comment
      Who's Steve? And thank you Ian for not sending me this one.

    • Ian Miller
      #3
      Ian Miller
      Flattery and foreplay
      Ian Miller commented
      Editing a comment
      "....you can and will want to look away from...."


      Good stuff, Mark!

    • Mark Tolch
      #4
      Mark Tolch
      Senior Member
      Mark Tolch commented
      Editing a comment
      Steve is my dog. He's a dacschund. He was very unimpressed.

      Thanks, Miiller! I'm really looking forward to Ian's review on DVDTalk to see what he thought.
    Posting comments is disabled.

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