"You don’t want to buy the movie, you don’t want to rent it, you don’t even want to borrow it. If somebody you know has a copy and they’re wanting you to watch it, just say “no.” Trust me, I was in the damn thing"
Added 28th March 2019
Review by: Greg Deliso
Released in 2017
In 1993, Alabama, Warren Werener, an amateur filmmaker, creates his first movie, Pumpkin. Shot entirely on VHS with a budget of just $600, the gratuity and ineptitude of Pumpkin causes a local uproar that leads to the filmmaker and his girlfriend’s suicide.
During production, a documentary, making-of Pumpkin was being created, but was never finished. The Nobodies is filmmaker Warren Werener’s Pumpkin, in it’s entirety, along with all of the original documentary footage, put together into one package. Or is it?
The synopsis, which I trimmed from the more eloquent, IMDb summary, is a mouthful, yes. And, it doesn’t quite do the movie justice. Jay Burleson’s The Nobodies is an exquisitely, layered masterpiece. So, first let me unpack the layers…
Pumpkin is a film that Jay Burleson, an actual, Alabama native and filmmaker, created when he was a teenager with no budget and local talent. However, there was no uproar, and there were no suicides, thank god.
Warren Werener is a fictionalized version of Jay Burleson and played by Jay in The Nobodies. In the movie reality that Jay created, Werener premieres his film Pumpkin, the real film that Jay created, and it leads to his, Werener’s suicide. In The Nobodies, we are presented with footage from Pumpkin, keeping in mind that this is an actual Jay Burleson film from when he was a teenager. The Nobodies connects the Pumpkin footage with interview footage, said to be created as a making-of documentary about Pumpkin. That documentary never existed and this footage is fiction, which is ultimately what The Nobodies is: a Christopher Guest-style, meta comedy, mockumentary.
Influenced by American Movie, and done in the style of Waiting For Guffman injected with a trashy, Troma sensibility, The Nobodies is a modern classic. The layered approach is intoxicating because what we’re seeing is a raw experiment in dramatic filmmaking. In movies like The Room and Plan 9 we see bad actors performing bad lines badly and we laugh. In movies like The Greasy Strangler we see non actors giving bad line readings at their own expense, and it’s funny. But, in The Nobodies, we see non actors not even really know what they’re in, giving earnest line readings in a doubly fake universe. The best part of The Nobodies is that nobody in it winks at the camera. Nobody gives away the joke that this is all not real. Whether they know it or not, they’re in it.
And, then there is Pumpkin, which, on its own is an extremely compelling film, worthy of John Waters filmography. The mastery of The Nobodies is that Jay found a way to repackage something that was already raw, yet brilliant in it’s hyper-stylized insanity, into something very deep. The humor is intelligent and crafted even though we’re often looking at a crazy guy with missing teeth mumbling in a stained shirt and pretending to be a cop, I think?
Ultimately, what’s truly surprising is the pathos. We get the sense that this is, in fact, very personal and somehow, symbolically autobiographical for Jay? Or, maybe he’s just that good at playing the emotional notes. The third act truly is a tear jerker as the suicide story unravels.
The Nobodies is one of the great, and by far, most interesting Troma releases… ever. For a movie with a crazy killer wiggling his dick at the camera it sure is complex and intelligent. See this movie if you like Waters-esque trash cinema, see this movie if you love deep, Guest-ian comedy, see this movie is you love great filmmaking.
THE B CLUB RATING : B b b b b
Starring: Lane Hughes, Bill Pacer, Bart Hyatt, Jay Burleson
Director: Jay Burleson
The B Club
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