Saturday, January 12, 2008


I'm sure when Jim Larsen thought up a title for his 1998 picture, he envisioned lots of people chuckling when they talked about seeing "Jim Larsen's BUTTCRACK." Actually, you'll get more laughs out of devising various remarks--"I just suffered through Jim Larsen's BUTTCRACK" and "Jim Larsen's BUTTCRACK was twice as long as it needed to be" are two examples--than you will from the film itself.

This Virginia-lensed horror-comedy deals with a young man named Brian (Doug Ciskowski) and his roommate Wade (Caleb Kreischer), an obnoxious, corpulent nerd sporting a perpetual display of butt-cleavage. Brian wants to propose to his girlfriend Annie (Kathy Wittes), which is damn near impossible with Wade constantly interrupting their romantic interludes with his vomit-inducing crack. When Brian accidentally electrocutes Wade by dropping a radio into the bathtub it appears that the two lovebirds can finally have their privacy, but Wade's voodoo-practicing sister (Cynthia Geary, who also co-produced) has other plans; she's cast a spell that will bring Wade from the dead and get his revenge on those who've wronged him--but only if someone says "buttcrack" twelve times in a single breath.

The problem with Jim Larsen's BUTTCRACK (there, are you happy, Jim?) is that it fails as both a comedy and a zombie film. The flimsy screenplay--probably cranked out over a slow weekend--has the same one-two set-up as an old EC Comics tale, but doesn't have nearly enough story to fill its 67-minute running time. This would be fine if Larsen had plenty of laughs or chills to compensate, but he never delivers either. Wade doesn't even make for an interesting zombie, not only is he not interested in getting revenge (which is understandable--it really was an accident), he doesn't even bother to eat anyone, he simply transforms others into zombies when they see his buttcrack. Now, any premise can be made funny with the right execution, but Larsen merely lets the camera roll as if the concept was inherently funny. Even simple gags fall flat, when they do appear, thanks to a combination of poor writing and even poorer acting (most of the cast delivers their lines with the same passion as calling in an order to Pizza Hut).

The only time Jim Larsen's BUTTCRACK shows any promise (okay, last one, I swear) is when Mojo Nixon shows up as Preacherman Bob to inject some sorely-needed energy to the proceedings. Even with given little more to do than jump around and howl his inane dialogue, Nixon constantly threatens to run away with the film--and much to my disappointment he doesn't, though I'd like to see his character get his own movie. If the other actors in the film had taken the same over-the-top approach the film might've had a chance, instead of dragging along to an unmemorable climax.

According to IMDB Larsen hasn't made another film since BUTTCRACK, and while I don't want to gloat over the failure of a filmmaker, I'm at least glad he never got the chance to pollute the video shelves with one badly-made film after another (yes, Rolf Kanefsky, I'm talking to you). But who knows, maybe he could've learned from his mistakes and made an indie feature worth checking out. I'm guess we'll have to wait and see.

(No trailer this time, but it's interesting what you'll find when you search for BUTTCRACK on YouTube.)

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