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Sunday 9 June 2013

Burl reviews Trancendental Hopheads! (1988)

Ha ha, it’s Burl again, here to review the last of the home-made movies I found on VHS tapes that were languishing in a bin just inside the doorway of a long-gone video store on Bathurst Street in Toronto, Canada! You’ve already read about Attack of the Flesh Eating Tree!! and Attack of the Killer Squirrel; now prepare yourself to hear the fantastic tale of Trancendental Hopheads!
First of all, yes, that is how the title is spelled! The next thing to note is that this movie is a lot longer than either of the Attack films – in fact, it’s close to eighty minutes! Ha ha, and on an amateur production from the late 1980s, each minute feels like at least two or three! Also unlike the Attack pictures, this one can be precisely dated, as the unusually comprehensive credits claim it was produced in 1988!
The Attack pictures both had fairly straightforward plots; Trancendental Hopheads does not! The narrative is extremely abstract! Nevertheless, I shall manfully attempt to wrestle it into some comprehensible form for you! It seems there is a group of youths living in a town, and a separate group of youths who are trying to lure them into a kind of devilish coven, and are murdering them in gory ways when they fail to be so lured! Then, in a manner that reminded me somewhat of a recent  picture called Bad Meat, the movie ended suddenly in the middle of an action scene!
But it did not actually end there; would that it had! What happens then is that two teenage “movie reviewers,” who sport sunglasses, fake moustaches and fey, lisping voices, appear, sitting on a couch, to criticize the movie they themselves are apparently an extension of! They also attempt to clarify story points (a valuable service, and the only way I was able to offer a plot précis myself) and screen some additional scenes! This potentially clever meta-device is drastically undercut by its ineptitude and gross overextension!
Ha ha, there are a few funny little scenes in the picture, as when one of the so-called “miscreants” decides to send some totemic warning to Gorman, one of the “innocents,” and so drills a hole in his own forehead, plucks out a morsel of brain, seals it bloodily in an envelope and scrawls GORMAN across the front of it! Ha ha, that will teach Gorman all right!
But gems like this are buried in a muddle of criminally overlong improvised scenes, disconnected dream sequences, flat-footed gore setpieces, action scenes filmed in near-complete darkness and dialogue scenes pointlessly filmed in bright light, in which eighty percent of the spoken words are unintelligible! And it goes on and on and on, and by the time you get to the movie reviewers, who are obviously the same fellows who made the picture, you just want to strangle them! Ha ha!
It’s not a good picture, and it bears no promise of future brilliance, but I’m glad to have found and watched this movie nevertheless! For it serves as an indication of how many backyard productions must be out there, striving, seeking for the light! I am glad to be of some help in providing a little exposure to pictures like Attack of the Flesh Eating Tree!!, Attack of the Killer Squirrel and, yes, even Trancendental Hopheads! (In that precise spirit, my pal Bleeding Skull provides a look at the works of David “The Rock” Nelson – ha ha, check out his reviews of same!) In the meantime, I give Trancendental Hopheads one and a half c. 1988 Super Big Gulps!

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