Monday, July 04, 2011

Oddball Films: Pick Your Poison

Oddball Films ArchiveSaturday night I attended a screening at Oddball Films, a combination film archive, performance space & living quarters on the upper floor of a Mission District building. Attendees need to be buzzed in. It was worth half the price of admission just to walk past the towering shelves piled with film canisters. This evening's program had a medical theme & included industrial & training films as well as a "racially insensitive" cartoon in which Porky Pig checks into a hospital. Pain and Its Alleviation is a training film for nurses, but it wants to be a psychological horror film. In a series of creepy vignettes, nurses attempt to comfort patients who may be in excruciating pain or just hypochondriacs. The 60 Minutes-style Addictive Sopers features an interview with a gap-toothed drug dealer in a ski mask as it educates us about quaaludes. Surprisingly, the film implicates the drug companies themselves in the epidemic of Methaqualone addiction.

The highlight of the program was the nearly abstract Le Monde Du Schizophrene. It looks like a bad Cocteau film, complete with a backwards-running camera & homoerotic imagery. I can't imagine what the client, pharmaceutical company Sandoz, made of it. One a Minute is WWII military training film about VD, but its beautifully lit scenes of sailors & nightclub prostitutes are far too alluring. Ulcer at Work is a complete 1950s domestic drama demonstrating the efficacy of the new science of psychiatry. It sparked a discussion among psychiatrists in the audience afterward.

Oddball FilmsThere were about a dozen people at the show. My film companion & I slumped in lounge seats up front. There are no refreshments for sale at the venue, but people brought their own snacks & beverages. Stephen Parr, director of Oddball Films, introduced the program & ran the projector. Hearing its mechanical clatter immediately transported me back to those days in grade school when we got to watch movies in class.

§ Pick Your Poison: Medicine and Madness

Patient Porky (1940)
Pain and Its Alleviation (1961)
Addictive Sopers (1978)
Le Monde Du Schizophrene (The World of the Schizophrenic) (1969)
One a Minute (1944)
Ulcer at Work (1957)

Oddball Films
Saturday, July 2nd, 2011 at 8:00PM


John Marcher said...

This sounds like a great program- I wish I'd seen it.

Axel Feldheim said...

I'd never been to one of these screenings before, but my friend, who is a regular, said this was an unusually good program. They do around 8 shows a month. Best way to find out about them is to sign up for their email list or check the facebook page: