A pivotal film in the Cinema of Transgression that was directed by
one of the its key practitioners Nick Zedd, who forcibly demonstrates
the movement’s considerable debt to the horror genre.
Nick Zedd made this, one of his few feature length
films, in 1983, in between the shorts THE BOGUS MAN (1981) and THE WILD
WORLD OF LYDIA LUNCH (1983). GEEK MAGGOT BINGO’S nod to 1950s-era horror
cinema is made explicit by the presence of horror host Zacherle (playing
himself) and former Fangoria editor Bob Martin in the cast. Also
appearing is punk legend Richard Hell, proving he’s no actor.
The Cinema of Transgression (as profiled in Jack
Sargeant’s indispensable 1995 volume DEATHTRIPPING) is a New York based
sub-cultural movement, born out of the punk rock and underground film
scenes, that flourished during the late 1970s and 80s. Its best known
practitioners include Beth B., Nick Zedd, Richard Kern and Lydia Lunch,
and GEEK MAGGOT BINGO (whose initial title THE FREAK FROM SUCKWEASEL
MOUNTAIN still adorns the film) is one of its best known films.
Dr. Frankenberry is a mad scientist who, together with
his cross dressing hunchbacked assistant Geeko, is looking to create a
new life form. Unfortunately, their attempts are thwarted by an evil
vampire couple residing in the woods beyond Frankenberry’s castle. The
Doctor sends Geeko to track down the vamps, but Geeko is waylaid and
turned into a vampiric slave. Geeko heads back to Frankenberry’s castle,
where the latter reveals his latest plan: he wants to create a man with
formaldehyde blood that when sucked will destroy the vamps.
Frankenberry and Geeko find a vessel for the
formaldehyde man, and wind up with a two headed monstrosity that
Frankenberry hustles out to the vampires’ lair with Geeko in tow. Also
afoot is the Rawhide Kid, a pistol packing cowboy who assists
Frankenberry in taking down the vamps--or tries to, at least!
Yes, this is a terrible movie by any standard, but it’s
pointless to complain about the (extremely) low budget trashiness, as
that’s part of its conception. In many respects GEEK MAGGOT BINGO is a
precursor to more recent self-aware cult horror films like THE LOST
SKELETON OF CADAVRA and POULTRYGEIST, but Nick Zedd takes his trashy
aesthetic to extremes no other self-respecting filmmaker would dare.
There are no sets in this film, which was shot largely
in somebody’s apartment with blatantly unconvincing painted backgrounds
and cardboard props. The performers appear to have been encouraged to
act as hammy as humanly possible, the camerawork is wobbly and
frequently out of focus, and the “special” effects were accomplished by
animation scratched onto the celluloid, as well as tacky Halloween
None of this is the slightest bit scary, of course, as
the whole thing is more a postmodern provocation than a proper movie. As
such it exerts an odd fascination comparable to the George Kuchar and
John Waters films that helped inspire the Cinema of Transgression, but
in the end I think a real horror movie would be preferable.
GEEK MAGGOT BINGO
Cast: Robert Andrews, Richard Hell, Brenda Bergman, Donna Death, Bruno
Zeus, Gumby Sangler, Tyler Smith, Jim Giacama, Bob Martin, Bob Elkin,