Thursday, November 13, 2008


In a historic milestone, last night I finally became able to say that I have seen every film ever directed by Coleman Francis.

The fact that he only made three films in his career may make this achievement seem trivial, but only to somebody unfamiliar with Francis’ work. Anyone who knows the heights to which Colemanian cinematic incompetence soared will slump back in their chair, shake their head, stare at the words again to make sure they read it right, and mutter, “Better you than me,” in an awed tone.

Coleman is a revelation to anyone who thinks that bad movies reached their nadir with Roger Corman or Bert I. Gordon. It’s difficult to see how any film maker could be quite this inept. I’m developing a theory that Coleman Francis didn’t actually shoot any footage himself: he just broke into a studio every once in a while, raided the stock footage supply cupboard, then crept into the editing suite and collected up all the scraps of other movies left on the floor. A little sticky tape and some baffling voiceover work, and voila… a movie is created!

The stinkiest, dullest, least coherent movie ever to stalk its way across a cinema screen, true, but a movie nonetheless.

As if recycling the sort of footage that even Ed Wood would reject wasn’t enough, Coleman Francis also utilized the other secret of successful bad movie making: padding, and plenty of it. Last night’s movie, ‘The Beast of Yucca Flats’, is only around 54 minutes long, but even that meager run time was only achieved by dragging every scene out until it was more stretched than Tor Johnson’s underpants. Where another director might show a character arriving at a scene with a tight shot of his car pulling up, Coleman Francis would start filming the car while it was still a ways down the road, and kept filming it as it slowly drove into the scene, found a nice parking space and eventually ground to a halt.

This might be forgivable if he just did it once or twice – we are none of us perfect, after all. But Coleman Francis did it with every single car, in every single scene, again and again and again! Watching ‘The Beast of Yucca Flats’ is like sitting on a folding chair next to the freeway and idly looking around for 54 minutes.

Whether close up…

Or from a distance…

At night…

Or during the day…


Or in pairs…

Coleman never saw a shot of a car approaching that he didn’t like.

But even this gross affront to anyone with eyeballs has its uses. You can play the Coleman Francis Approaching Car Drinking Game.

The rules are very simple; you watch ‘The Beast of Yucca Flats’, and every time you see a shot of a car approaching, you take a drink. If the car is stationary or, on very rare occasions, heading away from the camera, it doesn’t count. Only shots of cars approaching count.

The game ends when you and your viewing buddies are all at the Emergency Department, being treated for alcohol poisoning, about half an hour later. The winner is the person who doesn’t die. Or more accurately, the winner is the person who forgot that the movie was on and spent his time at home instead, reading an improving book.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You do have a lot of time on your hands! Jaymez

12:00 PM  
Blogger Blandwagon said...

I sacrifice my precious time for the good of future generations. They need to be warned.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the images you have here, it seems like you watched the MST3K versions of the films. If that's the case then you should know that MST3K re-edited the films of Coleman Francis for comedic effect, making the films appear more amateurish than they actually were. MST3K completely massacred Red Zone Cuba, for a start. (Very poor form from MST3K, it makes me wonder just how many films they re-edited before they made fun of them.) To give the 'trilogy' a fair shot you really have to watch the original uncut versions. I'm not gonna lie: The films are still baffling when viewed in their original glory, but they are slightly better than MST3K made them seem, and it's only fair to judge the original versions rather than the hackjobs that the MST3K team did on them.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Blandwagon said...

"I'm not gonna lie: The films are still baffling when viewed in their original glory, but they are slightly better than MST3K made them seem..."

So rather than being utterly awful, they're just awful?

I take your point, Anonymous, but there are a couple of issues that cement Coleman's reputation for crapitude. One, the MST3K boys couldn't edit shots and scenes to be longer than they were originally, so the criticism about Coleman's eternal parking shots remains valid. And two, the man hired Tor Johnson. No filmmaker in his right mind ever hired Tor Johnson, unless he needed a piano moved.

1:38 PM  

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