Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hold Me While I'm Naked (Kuchar. 1966)

"There's a lot of things in life worth living for, isn't there?"

Underground film has been an interest of mine ever since I saw a film reel showing of Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein (1973) while in high school. I have to admit that some of them are not the most entertaining spectacles, but that is exactly what makes them so appealing. What underground films lack in entertainment value, they make up for with interesting styles, techniques and visuals.

I have already written about films by the infamous Jack Smith and the ingenious Stan Brakhage, but one underground director has always eluded my attention. George Kuchar is an interesting character to say the least. As a director of mainly pointless short films, his status as an underground legend truly baffles me. And that is why I love it so much.

His most famous short film, Hold Me While I’m Naked, is nothing short of abstractly incoherent. And though it does have a tangible storyline, I still felt very lucky that it was only seventeen minutes long. The film tells the story of a disgruntled actress who walks away from a film because she did not want to do all of the erotic shower scenes. This is kind of similar to what actually happened during filming because Kuchar’s star, Donna Kerness, was stricken ill and no longer wanted to film the shower scenes.

The shower scene was really the cornerstone of the entire short film. Kuchar has a distinguishable interest in a very low-fi aesthetic. Made on 8mm film, Hold Me While I’m Naked is not a pretty film to look at, but the strangely working shower scene has an unavoidable pulling power. The underground eroticism that Kuchar creates in this scene is palpable. The viewer is forced into a world of trashy camp that was obviously influenced by the works of Jack Smith.

Though the sound mixing is awful, the talentless actors are frustrating and the visuals are difficult, Hold Me While I'm Naked is still a special work in trashy underground. It is my opinion that George Kuchar is far less talented than his experimental counterparts, but he is still an under credited influence on some particularly famous filmmakers – most notably, John Waters.

In terms of a short film, Hold Me While I’m Naked does not do a great job at wrapping up the storyline. But like most experimental works, the storyline is not particularly important. I was a fan of the film, but I could never actually call it well made, entertaining or even good. This is a film that takes an acquired taste. Hold Me While I’m Naked is an excellent display of trashy and erotic camp.

Hold Me While I'm Naked: D

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