Feb 28, 2012


Shitty Flicks is an ongoing column that celebrates the most hilariously incompetent, amusingly pedestrian, and mind-bogglingly stupid movies ever made by people with a bit of money, some prior porn-directing experience, and no clue whatsoever. It is here you will find unrestrained joy in movies meant to terrify and thrill, but instead poke at your funny bone with their weird, mutant camp-girl penis. 

WARNING: I tend to give away major plot points and twist endings in my reviews because, whatever. Shut up.

Long ago, when Ingmar Bergman was making films actually about something, a filmmaker named Nick Millard (or one of his eight aliases) set out to make a chillingly effective horror film—a film that would raise the bar on how much utter terror audiences could tolerate. Criminally Insane, which for the remainder of this review will be referred to as Crazy Fat Ethel, in keeping with the far superior title chosen for the sequel, was a critical delight and box office smash in the sense that I am a sarcastic prick. Instead, Millard ended up making this first of four truly abhorrent horror movies featuring the very gargantuan Priscilla Alden (star of Birdy as 'Woman on Bench'), who plays a monster named Ethel that eats piles of snacks and occasionally stabs obvious mannequins covered in reddish-orange goo. Yes, there's many reasons why you've never heard of Nick Millard, dear reader. Crazy Fat Ethel is one of them.

All of the "films" Millard made around this time were produced by his mother, Frances Millard, who subsequently began a career as a porn actress at the ripe age of 85 years old. Titles of her films include 92 and Still Bangin', Granny Takes a Tinkle, and Hey, My Grandma is a Whore, which is one of the most nonplussed observations one could make this side of "huh, looks like rain." (None of those are jokes—at least, none that I've made.)

One year for Halloween, Ethel trick-or-treated as "hideous."

At the start of the movie, we meet our fatagonist (LMAO), Ethel Janowski. Her time spent at the Nappa Valley Mental Institute, where according to fuzzy flashbacks she was forced to have electroshock therapy while unnecessarily revealing the most horrid of sexual extremities, is now over. After the audience suffers through said flashback, in which her shock-therapy session plays out in real time in order to pad out the length of this movie (a whopping 61 minutes), Grandma Janowski checks Ethel out of the hospital and brings her home to San Francisco, land of the trolley car, TV's the Tanner family, and "the gays."

Once home, Grandma tries to put Ethel on a diet, because the sheer girth of her rotund belly enrages whole planets. Ethel glares at her grandmother, somehow gaining weight as she stands in place. Instead of agreeing to these terms, she demands a snack. Grandma says no, explaining to her that excess food could prove detrimental to her heart.

“My heart is just fine, so long as my stomach’s not empty,” Ethel gurgles scientifically, citing from her favorite book, I'm Fat, You're Fat: Let's All Eat Dinner Again.

Ethel's mind eventually takes a shit over her inability to fill her mouth with popcorn and cow meat, and so she stabs Grandma for locking up the refrigerator. Grandma dies clenching the only key in her old, old hand, as Ethel repeatedly stabs her and screams, "I want that key!"

The Ethel we had all previously known and loved is gone. Meet the new Ethel: just as hideous...just as fat...but twice as crazy.

With a whore and a fat-ass psychopath for her granddaughters,
Granny stops to reflect on if she's made the wrong choices in life.

Ethel, looking to stuff her person with cheese cubes and bacon bits, dials up a local grocer to place an order for delivery. She fidgets on the phone, impatiently agreeing to pay off Grandma’s previous debt, as she doubles the amount of ice cream. Ethel grins, dreaming of all the drippy food that will soon be covering her moomoo, but she runs into a problem when the delivery boy refuses to accept $4.50 to pay an $80 bill. Ethel, a good problem solver, stabs the boy a billion times with a broken bottle.

At this point, Ethel's sister, Rosalee, a divine little minx who fucks for money, assaults herself into the plot, her first appearance consisting of ringing the doorbell over and over until you want the whole world to explode. Ethel finally lets her in after having dragged the delivery boy's body upstairs and into Grandma’s room.

Rosalee barely asks, “What’s all this blood all over the floor?”

Ethel farts, “I cut my foot on some glass.”

To see how much blood is on the floor, and to see Ethel’s pudgy, uncut foot, would draw suspicion from even an infant with a candy-filled brain, but no worries here. Rosalee merely walks past her sister and explains she’ll be staying there for a while and occasionally renting out her vagina to the lowest bidder. You see, ♫ it's not unusual♫ for Rosalee to bring home a strange and ugly man to wrap around, but sometimes that's just John, her pimp/boyfriend. But in keeping with her profession, Rosalee will also bring home "johns," on whom she will perform sexual favors in exchange for some financial compensation or some "nasal medicine." What's deeply frustrating about Rosalee's lack of attractiveness is that her johns also grew off the branches of the ugly tree, so viewers can't even get temporarily lost in some attractive sex. Everyone is hideous.

Sure, Rosalee brought home the big bucks... but at what cost?

It's not long before a cop comes sniffing around, trying to solve the case of the missing food delivery kid who recently made a food delivery to a place where a very fat, food-loving woman, fresh from the mental institution, has taken up residence. The cop fires off question after question, demanding to know the boy's possible whereabouts, but Ethel, master deflector, throws off the cop's scent in all the most diabolical ways:

“He went left.”

The cop, totally okay with this answer, deduces that the boy must have “gone to Tijuana” with the money and leaves, failing at life like everyone having to do creatively with this movie.

It's right around this point where we finally meet John, Rosalee’s horse jockey/lover/abuser. He shows up at her favorite watering hole to insist they continue their relationship of love and domestic violence. For every second he is onscreen, he appears to be on at least five '70s-bred hallucinogenics.

Despite Rosalee telling him to bugger off, he follows her back to the house, where she continues her cold shoulder technique of avoiding his kisses, even though she has ended up naked on a bed with him on top of her (following an amusing fade-to). John proclaims his love, and Rosalee asks, “If you love me so much, why do you beat the shit out of me?”

John retorts, “You need a good beating every once in a while. All women do. Especially you.”

She then welcomes him into her equestrian vagina, I guess deciding he has made a good point.

John had gotten his promotion, found $5 in the street,
and was about to complete the trifecta.

John meets Ethel the next morning at breakfast after she walks in holding a plate piled high with Hot Pockets. He looks genuinely taken aback and lets out a bemused “Jesus…” in what comes off as the most honest bit of acting in this train wreck. But Rosalee orders him to be nice, and John agrees, asking for one of Ethel’s treats. She hesitantly hands him one and is about to sob over the loss of her food when that pesky cop returns to gather further information about the missing delivery kid. Having found out that the boy was apparently a pillar of the youth community, he is no longer satisfied by his own Tijuana theory. He again questions Ethel, and again she shows off her bravura for master manipulation:

"I saw someone with a gun follow him," she says dumbly, staring at the floor.

"Why didn’t you tell me this before?" the cop inquires, suspicious.

"I forgot," she booms in response. And for good measure: "The robber was black."

A black robber in San Francisco is enough for the cop to leave Ethel alone for the moment. She relievedly pats herself on the stomach for a job well done, leaves to “go watch Gunsmoke,” and probably celebrates her cunning with a wheel barrel of hot dogs.

And the movie continues, whether we like it or not.

"Hey, Ethel...Are you gonna pass the jam or what?"

Ethel eludes Rosalee's curiosity as to where Granny is, why her room is always locked, and why it smells like death. “Grandma must’ve shit all over the bed before she left,” she deduces.

Hideous John threatens to break down Granny's bedroom door, but Ethel uses her noodle and brilliantly suggests, "Do it tomorrow." John agrees and takes Rosalee back to their bed, where he consents to bestiality.

Rosalee’s mounting suspicions eventually catch Ethel's lard-ass attention, but the potential conflict is soon alleviated when Ethel kills her with a large plastic cleaver—the special kind that makes a dull wood-on-wood sound when striking anything at all.

As we watch in boring anticipation, Ethel sneaks into John and Rosalee's bedroom and raises the mighty cleaver with her meaty arm. She brings it down across John's head, and though its pretty much obscured by some cleverly awful editing, his face explodes into a thick layer of red wall paint. Rosalee manages to sleep through the hundreds of swings Ethel applies to John's head, as depicted by the past-faced cutting. She finally wakes up and neighs to Ethel for mercy. Ethel says something fat and then kills Rosalee, setting in stone her future as horse glue.


Phew... we can all breathe a sigh of relief. Ethel's Crisco-fueled crimes of passion have saved her tremendous ass for the time being. She continues to kill mannequins that we're supposed to accept are people, eats, and has a dream she is wearing a nice robe and running by the bay. Once waking from her nap, she gets up, eats a lot more, and kills a little more. Much fun can be had witnessing Ethel attempt to hide her ever-growing amount of bodies in Granny's room, all the while spraying air-freshener directly on their dead faces.

After realizing Granny's bedroom is rapidly filling up with bodies, Ethel loads them into a car trunk and drives out to a sea-side cliff in hopes of dumping them into the water. She takes her sweet fat-ass time performing this task, and we have no choice but to watch the entire trip unfold in real time, because we're watching this movie for some reason.

Upon getting there, Ethel sees that there are far too many witnesses for her to get away with dumping bodies into the bay, so she gets back in the car and drives all the way home, leaving the trunk lid hanging wide open because she's a fucking dickhead. And we get to watch all of this return trip, too, because this movie seriously has more padding than Mickey Rourke's newest face.

Once home, Ethel smashes up the stairs, eager to eat something covered in heavy cream. Nosy Neighbor, who catches a whiff of something fierce, wanders over to the trunk Ethel has ingeniously left hanging open and sees a mannequin hand douched with blood.

That pesky cop shows up again and randomly enters Ethel's house. If he has done so because he was alerted to the hand in the trunk, it’s definitely not evident, for he walks slowly up the steps without any alarm, and without taking out his gun. He opens the door to Granny's room and sees Ethel EATING the dead bodies that have accumulated because her belly can hold a lot.

The end.

(To be followed by three sequels).

"Cake cake cake," Ethel happily sang, moments before her heart attack.

What I Learned from Crazy Fat Ethel:
  • Ethel is larger than your average bear.
  • Saying derogatory things like "that Jew doctor" is a-okay so long as your dinner is your hand and an entire jar of peanut butter.
  • Blood can be faked with the most unrealistic of substances.
  • Nick Millard became a filmmaker upon realizing he had access to free mannequins.
  • A 61-minute movie can feel like an eternity if you know how to craft something awful.
  • Nick Millard is not affiliated with a single attractive person.
  • The desire to eat normal food and then commit murders naturally leads to cannibalism. (Further, dead human bodies are made of chocolate.)
  • Nick Millard's prior history of shooting pornography is unsurprisingly prevalent. However, this time, the ridiculous and tedious set-pieces that would normally lead to hardcore sex are just the actual movie.
  • Ethel likes to eat 'Nilla Wafers, pudding, iced cream, eggs, people, milk, pancakes, more pudding, and your time.

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