In Review: rectuma, a film for the ageless

Japanese movie poster for Rectuma

Imagine you are a bland, doughy mail clerk named Waldo (Bill Devlin), unburdened by dreams or desires or interests. You may well be. Imagine are on vacation with your wife, Valveeta, a philandering sociopath who wants you dead.  Unbeknownst to either of you, a Mexican butt-humping bullfrog has penetrated you physically and without your consent, leaving you with an inexplicable pain in your rear end.

Back home your proctologist, an overzealous, pointy-eared connaisseur du postérieur, recognizes this immediately as reptilian rape, but when it comes to cures, he throws his hands up.  There’s simply nothing western medicine can do for you, he’s sorry to say.  Unless…

Unless what?  I’ll do anything, you cry!

Well, he says, there is one solution.  A Japanese scientist (“very authentic: accent, slanty eyes, little penis,” drawls the doctor) can provide you with an experimental, radioactive rod-based procedure to quell your problems. Only — oops! — he’s just broken off his rod in your rectum, and your ass has turned a glowing green.

It seems your bottom (now looking more like a hairy rum babà than anything) has broken off from its top, and is killing those who have wronged you.  Unaffiliated fat people, too.

Your ass has grown to colossal proportions and is now attacking the city.  Your ass must be stopped.

Eat It: Rectuma
Detective Cosacca getting his just desserts.

It took three evenings for me to watch the full ninety-five minutes of Mark Pirro’s Rectuma (2003), a film which aspires to the no-budget heights of Troma Entertainment, but with 100% less surf nazis dying.  While I can conclude from this viewing that Rectuma (pronounced “Reck-uh-tooma”) is most certainly a film, it did leave me with a few questions.

Why Them?  Often in films of this particular strain, tragedy befalls the most virtuous loser in a world of unvirtuous winners, forcing our hero to face his fears and whip the world back into a more suitable state.  No doubt, the exasperated, cuckolded Waldo hardly deserved to be violated by the flippant frog.  Still, I found myself wondering: why his butt?  More, why his butt?  While the good Detective Cipolla (Italian for “onion”, amongst the most sulphuric of foods) must face down her own fear of the bare derriere in order to crack this case, does she really?  Perhaps a result of my own formulaic and chauvinistic inclinations, I found myself wanting for a Waldo-Cipolla union to rationalize her very presence in the film; her gobsmacking Clarice Starling impersonation was the only sense I could make of it.  In sum:  more butt backstory, more bottom b-plot, or both, would’ve gone a long way in activating poor Waldo.

Why music?  All due respect to the composer Andrew Gold (not that Andrew Gold, is it?!), but I would’ve liked further elaboration on the lone, haunting melody that repeats, ad infinitum, from start to end.  Please, give us more of that floating chorus, that bone-chilling duet droning self-reflexive lyrics in anticipation of the audience’s bewilderment, superimposed into urinals and onto rocks like the supercilious sirens they are…but perhaps spring for an extra melody along the way?  I would counter, however, that preferable to this plinky earworm driving us toward certain madness might be liberating us of the convention of a soundtrack altogether. Moreover, ignoring the recurring, onscreen debate over the value of subtitles, why not dispense with sound altogether?  Other than the fart noises.  The fart noises stay.

Urinal Cakes: Rectuma
Singing in the bathtub.

Why not Jews?  For all the, um, subtle, playful jabs at feminists (the severe, sexless reporter “Gloria Sternvirgin”), Muslims (the gibberish-speaking terrorist “Summa Cum Laden”), African-Americans (the large-phallused adulterer “Johnny Peck”), Asians (“Dr. Wansamsake”), and homosexuals (“Detective Cocksucker”), as a Jewish-American I must admit I felt left out.  When Summa Cum Laden, straddling a rocket housed within Waldo’s giant rear, declares, “smells like home!” I could only dream of the type of punchline awaiting my people.  Perhaps in the forthcoming sequel about Waldo’s radioactive nuts, my people shall be liberated.

Why now?  Certainly with today’s popularity of ‘90s pastiche, from the Adult Swim universe to dad fashion to the reboot of Walker, Texas Ranger, one is tempted to declare Rectuma ahead of its time.  Apart from its metamodern glitch aesthetics, shot perhaps on an Omnimovie VHS, apart from Cipolla’s constant references to Jodie Foster’s career-making turn in Silence of the Lambs (Demme, 1991), we are treated to punchlines that scream 1995, not 2003.  Regarding the size of Waldo’s mutant ass: “Are we talking Oprah large or Sally Struthers large?”  Regarding the revelation that, with the city under attack, Waldo indeed has no ass: “neither does Courtney Cox.”  To watch Rectuma is to be transported back to a time well in advance of its year of release, forcing one to ask: why now?  Why am I watching this right now?

All of this is not to say that I am questioning Mark Pirro’s filmic intuition or mettle.  Certainly, with a career spanning four decades (from 1978’s burger-slasher short, Buns, to the forthcoming zombie vengeance feature, The Dead Don’t Desist!), the folks and Pirromount must be doing something right.  Rather, at a time when we must consider ourselves lucky to have our own asses still intact, Rectuma compels one to oneself toward self-examination, top to bottom, for the ultimate question of all: in the case of the dismembered ass, where does all the shit come from?  Thanks to the unsinkable Mark Pirro, we have both question and answer.

Summa Cum Laden: Rectuma
Summa Cum Laden

Rectuma, 2003.

Written, produced, and directed by Mark Pirro.

Pirromount Pictures.