Thursday, November 23, 2017

Lost and Found: Rediscovering the All-Time Worst Exploitation Studio

The schlock Silver Screen Cinema Pictures International (SSCPI) churned out must have been unwatchable since not even grindhouse documentary mainstay John Waters is willing wax nostalgic over the oeuvre of Morris “Stogie” Carlisle. Of course, mighty SSCPI never actually existed, but a small platoon of genre film bloggers and critics will pretend otherwise. Rather impressively, they mostly manage to keep a straight face in Jason Bailey & Mike Hull’s mockumentary Lost & Found: The True Hollywood Story of Silver Screen Cinema Pictures International (trailer here), which is now available on Vimeo VOD.

Carlisle’s grade-Z exploitation movies were reportedly unwatchable, but we will have to take critic Glenn Kenny’s word for it, because we can no longer judge for ourselves. “Tragically,” the entire SSCPI film library went up in flames just prior to their VHS transfer, thanks to Stogie’s cigar. That was it, they were all gone. All that was left of SSCP was a hefty insurance settlement. However, a cache of trailers was discovered three years ago, giving us a maybe not-so tantalizing glimpse at what we have lost.

The vintage grindhouse details are so spot-on and the talking head commentary is so persuasive, viewers will start to wonder if SSCPI maybe really did exist, but the cast listing in the end credits is a dead giveaway. In fact, Dave Bailey and Mac Welch are wonderfully sly as the supposedly late Carlisle and his semi-estranged frequent cast-member, Dick Haze. However, Clint Howard totally takes the cake appearing as Howard Clinton, a formerly famous star, who only shot a day’s worth of film with Carlisle, but footage of his portrayal of an angry cop barking order into a phone would be spliced into dozens of subsequent SSCPI films.

You have to give our colleagues credit for mining SSCPI for laughs. As usual, Grady Hendrix’s enthusiasm is contagious, while Kenny plays his bad cop, SSCPI-demystifying role to the hilt. Frankly, very few of the trailers within the film look tempting in any way, shape, or form, except perhaps Black Thunder, a.k.a. Grandmaster Brown (or should that be vice versa?). Nevertheless, anyone who has enjoyed nostalgic documentaries like American Grindhouse and Rewind This, spoofs like Turbo Kid, or neo-grindhouse films, such as Ladies of the House should appreciate the charms of Lost & Found. Highly entertaining, it is now available via Vimeo.