When I was a kid, my Dad introduced me to Moron Movies. He taped a few on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson one night, and the next day, he showed them to me. They were hilarious.
Many years later I found a VHS copy of More Moron Movies for sale at Blockbuster and picked it up. It was around the same time that digital technology was making it easier for people to make movies on their own, and it was just the inspiration I needed. Len Cella showed me you didn’t need big budgets, big crews, and top flight equipment. You needed drive, imagination, and a good healthy dose of madness.
Today is Len’s 80th birthday. In honor of Len I’ve compiled and released the best of my Moron Movies inspired film series, Adam and Eve.
I still remember the first time I saw Len Cella’s work. My Dad taped a clip from The Tonight Show back in the early 80s, when Len was just starting to draw a cult following for his own series of shorts, the Moron Movies. Len wrote, starred in, edited, produced, and directed all of these low/no budget shorts himself, long before the time when iMovie and other editing software made it so easy. The two shorts I remember from that day were Cleaning Behind the Fridge (where Len simply throws a bucket of water behind the refrigerator) and How to Make a Sandwich (in which Len puts a piece of corn on the cob and a salt shaker on white bread).
Years later I found a copy of Volume 2 of the Moron Movies for sale at Blockbuster. It was around the time I started making films on my own, and it directly inspired a series of shorts I produced about Adam and Eve. A few years later, I found Len on Facebook. I contacted him and asked him to do a guest spot in the movie The Last Temptation of Fluffy. Len shot his own footage and sent it to me to include in the movie. I am eternally grateful to him for his kindness and generosity.
Len is living proof that anyone with a camera and some imagination can be a filmmaker. He’s turning 80 years old this year, and he’s making more movies than ever. If you’ve never seen him in action, give the Moron Movies a look for yourself in the clip below. You can also view a short documentary by filmmaker Simon Mercer titled King Dong on Vimeo (Contains adult language), and you can follow Len on Facebook to see even more of his films.
Somewhere around 1999, I discovered a book called Monsters from the Id by E. Michael Jones. An amazing deconstruction of the horror genre, Jones asserted that all of horror can be summed up in the scripture James 1:15. Jones saw horror as an outgrowth of the Enlightenment and the sexual liberation it produced, and he traced the origins of modern horror back to the lives of enlightened writers like Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker.
After catching the movie Hollow Man in a hotel room (and seeing it followed Jones’ theories to the letter!), I wrote a play that I turned into a screenplay simply called Monster, a story that played off Jones’ ideas and brought some of the Christian themes of horror more to the fore. A Christian filmmaker caught sight of it, loved it, and asked to develop it into a movie. I said yes.
A few months later, I received the revised screenplay. Sadly, all of the cool ideas I had for the film’s theme were cut in favor of the more “traditional” Christian movie tropes about spiritual warfare. I was very disappointed. So not long after this, I decided to try again. This time, I would keep it simple. The movie would be shorter – something I could film on no budget. And the themes I wanted to explore would not be cut because it would be my movie!
Fluffy, starring Jamie Bratcher and Randy D. Pease, was my first successful attempt at making a short film after several false starts. The movie was a hit at film festivals with its campiness, and it worked on all levels. You could enjoy it for the “deeper” themes, or you could just laugh and enjoy a really goofy send up of alien and horror flicks.
Fluffy was not intended to be a trilogy, but then, one day, I met Erica Goldsmith. After seeing the star of independent horror films Dead Moon Rising and Overtime sparring with fellow actor Denny Grinar on set for another short, I realized I had found the perfect person to bring Fluffy’s heroine Trish Angel back to the screen. Erica was a hardcore tough girl, and Fluffy Strikes Back (which owes a lot in production to Erica’s co-star, filmmaker Herschel Zahnd III) is still the best of the three.
Like many third films, The Last Temptation of Fluffy is overly long and in parts, a mess. With Herschel unavailable to reprise his role as Stone Brockman, we invented the convoluted “Drone” subplot, and the plot as a whole goes to some truly silly places. On the other hand, the film starred Len Cella, creator of the Moron Movies and one of my personal filmmaking heroes. Len was incredibly kind and gracious, filming his own scenes and not asking a penny. It was a treat working with him.
The last film in the series is the super short Liaison Avec Flufie. This film is best experienced rather than explained, so I won’t elaborate on what was (at the time) my farewell to the Fluffy series. The lovely Laura Ellis gives a remarkable performance, one of the best dramatic moments ever in my film (one of two… see George Robert Bailey in A Conscientious Objector of Mars), and the beauty of her tormented lover sets up the film’s big payoff.