Imagine the shock if Superman himself presented in your local, pulled a stool to the bar, politely raised his hand for service and promptly ordered a pint of the black stuff. That’s how it must have felt for the characters of this offbeat Too-Ra-Loo-Ra Romance as Margot Kidder (the future Lois to Christopher Reeves’ Clark) accompanies the rather simple, horse dung flogging Quackser into his local, “Kavanaghs” – or The Gravediggers to you and I…
What exactly Kidder and Gene Wilder (both early in their career’s) were doing in Dublin in 1970 shooting a feature film is just one of many thoughts to cross the mind while watching this gentle exercise in Oirishness. Gene Wilder’s Irish accent is hilarious – hints of Jamaican on the tongue and a Middle-Eastern aftertaste. The whole enterprise is in many ways anachronistic and woefully simplistic, but Quackser does have proof that the Irish collegiate youth could Frat party with the best of them as the Trinity Boat Club sequence bizarrely illustrates. Watch out for a young David Kelly in an uncanny pre-emption of Don Wycherley’s bar bully from Lenny Abrahamson’s Garage.
Put simply, this has to be one of the strangest movies ever made in Ireland. Scripted by Clive Barker – well known horror author and creator of the Hellraiser series – and starring, among others, Donal McCann and Niall Tóibín! The fact that it failed even as the low-budget schlock horror B-movie it aspires to be is beside the point. Watch out for the elements of noir peppered throughout the ghoulish possession and pagan monster netherworlds of a (refreshingly) withering script. No romanticising the twee Irish countryside here. Our protagonists, an American family caught in the middle of the mayhem, appear to have landed in one of the country’s most depressingly nondescript villages. And they want out. But not before some trashy carnage, blood galore and young maidens’ clothes getting ripped clean off. I prefer to think of it as an early manifestation of post-catholic Ireland grappling with secular mores… then again maybe I’m over-thinking. But any movie that has an uncontrollable pagan monster being accosted by the uniquely Irish, “C’mere You Ya Bollix Ye” confrontation management approach is a winner in my book.
Story goes that Pierce Brosnan was tied up in his Remington Steel contract when the Bond producers initially came to call. It seems like an act of warped self-flagellation that he would spend the intervening years in sub-par Bond-alike thrillers. Step forward Mark Taffin – the tough-talking, wisecracking debt-collector from Wicklow town. It had a decent budget (the copious Range Rovers and Mercs must have been a novelty in pre-Celtic Tiger era Ireland) the entire future casts of Fair City & Father Ted and a glamorous leading lady – Alison Doody. Double-take as the curvature of the Wicklow coastline looks like the Costa Del Sol (must have been a good Summer) and chuckle at “The Syndicate’s” bully-boy attempts to force the village’s acceptance of a chemical plant by the local football pitch. There’s dodgy developers, offshore Cayman Island accounts (did the Producers know something we didn’t?) and Taffin himself with a cheeky earring and his strangely offbeat Irish lilt.
A Man of No Importance really should have done better; featuring the always-dependable Albert Finney (and he’s quite good in this) it generated just £24,000 in box office revenue from a £2 million budget. A financial disaster for the Irish Film Board at the time. The story of Alfie Byrne, a closeted-gay bus conductor in early 60s Dublin, and a man who meets resistance trying to stage Wilde’s Salome in his local church, has a heavy-weight cast including Brenda Fricker, Michael Gambon and Rufus Sewell.
Young Jimmy Bennett is back in town and Trim, County Meath will never be the same again. This no budget, homemade, straight to VHS act of “cinematic” nauseousness enjoys the dubious title of being Ireland’s first ever full-length martial arts movie. In 2010 Cracked.com voted it the worst film ever made. The tagline lures you in, “A classic good versus evil action flick, mixed with kicks, guns, motorcycles and a hot babe!” and Mikey Graham – yes the Mikey Graham of Boyzone – delivers the knockout blow as one of villains. It’s highly surreal and utterly inane, with a curious “oeuvre” built on the very pinnacle of non-acting and absolutely no sense of fun whatsoever. But there is a place for a film like Fatal Deviation. It sits alongside the likes of The Room – 2003’s much derided (and celebrated) “worst movie of all time” – in it’s awe-inspiring calamitousness. Parties have been known to happen in its very honour. The whole thing can be watched on youtube if you’re game.