“I only put nudity in my films when it’s absolutely necessaryif the plot moves too slow and you need a few naked chicks to liven things up,” says psychotronic filmmaker Jose Behar, explaining the insertion of a ’60s nudie clip into his latest film. Behar directed the 28-minute Groovy Squad vs. Dr. Brain as “Rock Savage” and starred in it as “Harry Gross,” occult investigator. (“I thought people would rather see a movie by Rock Savage than by Jose Behar. At least, I would,” he says.) The second Groovy Squad pic, Brain has the ingredients of a drive-in movie: campy ’60s lingo, a former wrestler, kung fu, a perverted monk, voluptuous girls, and a poorly lit brain in a glass bubble as an “evil alien from parts unknown” bent on conquering the planet.
Lurid plot elements are just one hallmark of a Behar film; bad dubbing is another. When Dr. Karloff is communicating with the Squad via satellite, the voice match isn’t even closeprompting first laughter, then annoyance. Behar is quick to point out the similarity to dubbed European art films such as Make Them Die Slowly. Clumsy voice-overs are an unfortunate side effect of a dubious technical innovation employed by broke filmmakers addicted to Super 8: Shoot on film with no sound, transfer to video for ease of editing, and then dub. “I was irritated [by the dubbing] at first,” Behar says. “Until we showed it and people thought it looked cool.”
Aside from the
dubbing, Brain’s most atrocious effect is a gutting scene rendered more horribly realistic by the primitiveness of almost every other aspect of the film. “It unnerves people because of the campy tone,” Behar admits. “Some people think they’re watching a snuff film, because it looks so real, but actually it’s our simplest effect.”
Brain is Behar’s ninth film for his own production company, the Savage Film Group. His first flick was shot in 1980, when he was taking classes at Prince George’s Community College, and his film-club buddies from those days fill out the Groovy Squad. Behar was inspired by two ideals: the need for “a tough guy to come into a horror movie and kick somebody’s ass” and the DIY ethic of early midnight-movie staples. “I said to myself, ‘You’ve got Herschell Gordon Lewis in Florida, [George A.] Romero in Pittsburgh, and [John] Waters in Baltimorewhat am I doing sitting on my butt?’”Jeff Bagato
The Washington Psychotronic Film Society screens Groovy Squad vs. Dr. Brain Nov. 25 at the Lucky Bar. Behar’s tapes are available at Potomac Video and Video Vault, and the 15-minute Vengeance for a Dead Alien is on the Internet at www.thesync.com. For a free catalog ‘zine, write The Savage Underground, P.O. Box 4011, Capitol Heights, MD 20791.