Thursday, February 28, 2008


1998's NIGHT OF THE BUMS, a steaming pile of Virginia-lensed horse crap, is the first "film" I've encountered by writer/director Charles E. Cullen, a filmmaker of such miniscule talent and astonishing incoherency that good ol' Ed Wood would've sneered in derision at this flick. I've built up a fair tolerance for lousy directors over the years, but Cullen's "technique" feels so intentionally wrongheaded--not in a sense that he's breaking the rules on purpose, but that he's extraordinarily clueless on how to make a movie--that BUMS goes beyond annoying to downright mind-boggling.

Alice Cooper-lookalike Cullen introduces the film in a pointless, meandering segment (I don't recall ever seeing Welles or Kubrick set the scene for their films--hell, even that soulless hack Michael Bay stays out of the picture), before thrusting the viewer into his lunacy. I'll be damned if I can recall the plot--damned if I can remember if there is one--but it has to do with a trio of witches who, for one reason or another, leave bottles of poisoned hooch around town for the local homeless population to consume. Once they drink the stuff, the homeless--or "bums," to use the title's oh-so-sensitive term--become flesh-hungry zombies (they also adopt the ability to teleport, inexplicably shifting from a city locale to the woods to feed on their victims). Such an intricate tale obviously needs as narrator, but instead of sticking to a simple voice-over, Cullen repeatedly cuts from the "action" to a dimestore-decorated set as a whiskey-swilling geriatric fills in the gaps.

Brain-dead storyline notwithstanding, BUMS is really nothing more than series of unrelated vignettes--and a staggeringly dull series at that--alternating between color and black-and-white for no reason, strung together with shitty gore (gotta love the shoddy rubber bat with an extra-long tail on visible wires). Cullen even adds particularly vile segment involving a disemboweled baby, but when a barely-articulate puppet shows up spewing exposition, you realize that Cullen is a certifiable madman (note: NOT A COMPLIMENT!) who's got no fucking idea what he's doing. Then again, you'll figure that out once Cullen subtitles perfectly understandable English.

A brief glance at Cullen's filmography shows another zombie film, THE SOUTH WILL RISE AGAIN. Please, I'm begging you, somebody send me 255 zombie-film titles so I don't have to watch it. My sanity may depend upon it.

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