If I’m being honest, I didn’t think I was going to like the latest movie from James Bell, because I wasn’t at all a fan of his first release – the weird, docu-style Dog Dick. That title alone was enough to pull me in, and I purchased a copy right away. Suffice to say, I wasn’t a fan, and that leeriness almost persuaded me not to plop down any money on Manuer (sic).
I was right in ignoring my own negative predispositions, though, because Bell’s new film, Manuer, is a short film with an actual plot – and it’s a hilarious one. A bum, played by Bell himself, spends his days picking through trash looking for booze or money, while occasionally working odd-jobs for pocket change. While wandering, he stumbles across a 40oz bottle of clearly-marked FERTILIZER, which he naturally takes “home” for when he’s run out of regular beer.
Enjoying a sip or two back in his shed, with his only friend (and sexual object), a severed pigs head, Bell’s vagrant immediately becomes ill, violently spewing mounds of liquid feces into a pail and across the wall before collapsing onto the floor.
His new abilities to defecate on demand make for a wonderful job-aid, as he takes a gig landscaping a woman’s yard – by violently blowing liquid shit all over the gardens, the lawn, and her young son (played by Bell’s own young son). It’s only the next day that we learn that these specific blowshits happen to instantly bloom beautiful flowers – including on the boy’s face. This new wonder power does lead to the best line in the film, where the homeowner (played by Amanda Bell, James’ wife) walks outside to exclaim: “Jesus Fucking Christ. It’s a miracle! Come out here son, we can finally call this shit hole a home!” Amanda assured me that James really does talk that way, and that she was given her line only minutes before shooting the scene. I kid you not, it had me rolling with laughter.
As much as I disliked Dog Dick, Bell definitely made it up for me with Manuer. The movie is full of great gross out effects, with an amazing and beautiful ending that I won’t spoil, but is quite lovely after the lead-up.
Not for everyone, Manuer is definitely worth owning for anyone truly disturbed or who can appreciate the low- and no-budget films scattered through the underground. The movie can be purchased directly from Bell, and comes in a handmade case, signed and numbered and released by his Very Fine Crap Videos label. The movie was also made available in a very limited edition VHS from Lost Witch Releasing.