You might not be familiar with the term 'Z-Movie,' but if you grew up in the 90's, chances are you've seen one. They're the beyond-low-budget monstrosities that teased you from the walls of the mom-and-pop video store. Usually, the films themselves could never live up to the pictures on the videotape boxes (because this was way before your fancy 'Digital Video Discs' and 'Blu-Rays') but occasionally you'd find something truly unique. 'WEIRDO FLICKS' will clue you into some movies which 'unique' doesn't even begin to describe...
'Bloody Wednesday' - 1987, Directed by Mark G. Gilhuis
Here's an interesting mishmash of styles. On one hand, there are several elements 'borrowed' from 'The Shining.' On the other, the atmosphere of the film is as sleazy as any low-rent film noir. There's also a 'Matlock'-esque introductory voiceover, and the nightmarish quality of 80's slashers like 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre.'
'Bloody Wednesday' isn't straight horror, it isn't well-made enough to be a proper drama, and it's too exploitative to be a scare film. There are even a few laugh-out-loud moments. I don't really know what to call it, other than weird.
Basically, a mentally ill (possibly schizophrenic) man goes berserk and shoots up a coffee shop, and that's about it. Don't worry, that's not a spoiler, as it's set up in the very beginning. The interesting part is watching the series of events (some real and some imagined) that lead up to his madness.
Harry is a divorced mechanic who has a couple psychotic episodes and gets fired from his job. His brother tries to help out, but he ends up in the psych ward eventually. When he's finally let out, his brother again 'helps' by setting him up in an abandoned hotel for some reason. Now, to me, this doesn't seem the ideal location for a possibly insane man, but there you go.
He gets attacked by some hoods who use the hotel as a hangout (or maybe this is imagined?) and begins hallucinating. At this point, it is unclear whether events are happening in 'real life' or not. For example, the attack on Harry by the hoods seems based in reality, but one of the hoods later returns to give him a machine gun, which seems hallucinated (but then he DOES use the machine gun, so who knows.)
So, the majority of the movie is spent setting up Harry's mental state when he goes on his inevitable rampage. This means the viewer is left to decide what's real and what's not, which isn't the kind of decision every movie-goer wants to make.
But, if you're the type of person who enjoys the sleep-deprived environments created by Stanley Kubrick or David Lynch (but aren't the type to write off all b-movies) this is your sort of entertainment.
Best of all, it's free on YouTube.
VHS photo by Toby Hudson.