Geoff Lafayette says one of the lessons of Buckystein, his 47-minute film about a half-man, half-Badger who unleashes a wave of terror on Madison, is that, these days, anyone can make a movie. But should they?
Produced with an all-acquaintance cast using the facilities at WYOU, the low-budget venture (Lafayette's in for $450 so far) is cheerfully amateurish. The acting ranges from awful to awfully over-the-top, the production values are nil (one scene has characters moving their mouths excitedly to nonmatching overdubs), and saying it has a B-movie plot smacks of grade inflation.
Yet Lafayette, a carpenter by profession, has cobbled together a wildly entertaining film. It's about Dr. Henry Frankenstein, a mad UW scientist ("I'm mad, but maybe I am mad!") who regenerates a roadkilled badger with the help of a hamburger from Union South.
"I need 20 ccs of VQ97!" exclaims Frankenstein, in a typical line. "I'm alive!" declares his handiwork, in another. Of course, the creature's grotesque disfigurement comes as a surprise. "I used fresh stem cells," Frankenstein insists.
The in-jokes are hilarious, from the open-minded housing co-op residents who gamely take the monster in ("We accept you for who you are!"), to the conservative protesters sporting signs like "Keep your liberal ideas away from my guns." And when the Act Out! bicyclists who inanely block traffic are being slaughtered, a harried mom yells at one for getting blood on her minivan: "I just got it washed!"
Madison audiences will love the locations: the zoo, Olin Park, Harmony Bar, O'Keeffe Elementary, Camp Randall. And everyone will enjoy the moral of the story, delivered at the end by a character named Towel Boy.
The film took five days to shoot but a year to finish. Fewer than a dozen people have seen it so far, but WYOU has booked the Barrymore Theatre for its world premiere on May 13. Of course, there's a Web site: groups.yahoo.com.group/buckystein. And Lafayette is already planning his next project: Bones Skeleton and the Toilet of Terror, about a zombie and talking dog who work for the sanitation department.
"To get things up and going," he says, "you need a B-movie concept, and you've got to make it local." Spoken like a true pro.