By Dan Kinem
Canada is a very weird place. For one, they put disgusting cheese curd on their already perfectly delicious fries. For two, their BBQ sauce tastes like taco sauce. For three, they aren’t nearly as proud of Degrassi as they should be. And for four, Science Crazed.
That last one might not be as obvious as the other three but it’s the most bizarre of them all. Science Crazed was the one and only film from Ron Switzer (though he may have done another that never got released called Buzzsaw Nightmares), a Toronto-based madman/experimental genius. It was made in 1989 as a “spoof,” though somehow I am doubtful of this. It’s so lost and absurd in its execution that it is impossible to tell the true intentions behind this film. I’d like to view it as an extended drug-induced noise pop music video rather than a horror/comedy spoof. “Spoof” in this instance is a marketing attempt to play off the film’s flaws, but rather those flaws should be embraced because they are what makes this film so special.
The movie is basically a fucked-up Canadian retelling of Frankenstein. Dr. Frank is decades ahead of his time but only he knows it. He gets the boot from his job half-way through his most important experiment — which I’ll dub “The 21-Hour Birth” (or is it the 18 hour birth? The math gets a little jumbled, but that’s not the point). Frank — in the way only a genius could — kidnaps a girl and makes her carry a fetus to birth in a extremely accelerated time-frame that kills the mother and her freak of a son… or does it?
The rest of the movie is 77 minutes of extreme close-ups, experimental lighting, and noise. Yes, noise. Not only does the soundtrack sound like a lion with a bone stuck in its throat, but the rest of the time is filled with sounds from the son, or The Fiend, as he is referred to. The sounds he makes while he slowly kills his victims can only be described as a helicopter trying to start that literally only has a drop of gas left yet won’t stop trying. The whole effect is a cacophony of noise coupled with this bizarre art student cinematography that must be seen to be believed. The Fiend being the slowest motherfucker in film history and the whole cast being the dumbest motherfuckers in film history only adds to the effect. Close-up of The Fiend’s boots dragging on the ground. Close-up of two girls faces while they work out. Repeat. I’m not lying when I say “repeat,” either. It’s on an endless loop. Yet, each shot is more entrancing than the last.
Where the film succeeds with flying colors is the dialogue. It is entirely dubbed and boy does it sound like it. Sometimes the actors mouths will move and Switzer makes the brilliant decision to just say nothing. Other times he does the opposite, having straight-faced characters continually repeat lines like, “Mommy, Momma, Mommie” over and over. Each character is more hilarious and ridiculous than the last, but the legend of the movie is the detective. With each line he spits out I was crying. He was masterful in his over-the-top seriousness. My favorite being… “And I’ll tell you something else! It looks like our baby… is a grown killer.”
I will not call this movie entertaining, though it is. Instead, I will call it a Canadian Stan Brakhage Frankenstein adaptation on the marijuana with a Yo La Tengo soundtrack. While The Fiend lived at the end of the film and lives in our hearts to this day, it’s just a shame he didn’t make the end-credits promised follow-up appearance in “Return of the Fiend.” That would have been next level.
Not surprisingly, the movie was only released in Canada (the only country that could handle its brilliance). The company that put it out was TriWorld Films, an extremely rare VHS company that released the cult classic Things and Donald Farmer’s Scream Dream. As far as I know, these are the only movies released by TriWorld, though the catalog numbers leave me with some doubt these are it. All three tapes are incredibly hard to find, but Science Crazed is lightyears harder than the rest. I don’t know many people who actually own a copy of this film and if you are lucky enough to come across one then hold onto it for dear life and share it with the rest of the world.