Making movies is a passion, though sadly talent and passion aren’t mutually exclusive. Sometimes the best intentions go wrong, which results in such immortal catastrophes such as The Room and Samurai Cop.
Well, make some space for Dangerous Men, the latest entry to the ‘so bad it’s good’ pantheon. Created by John Rad, he apparently laboured on this from 1979 until 2005. Since then he had tried to get it distributed – even noticed – but got nowhere. Well, it’s not really surprising. Just take a look at this trailer:
The plot is about a woman who goes on a revenge spree after some thugs kill her fiancee. Apparently it is an insane piece of work, though the trailer just makes it plain terrible. At a stretch this may qualify as a modern grindhouse classic like the demented Hobo With A Shotgun, but right now it is a guess.
Well, not too much: the film has built quite a following, despite Rad’s death in 2007. As a result cult studio Drafhouse Film has licensed Dangerous Men for distribution, which means it might show up soon on VOD and other formats. This may be a good candidate for a beer and pizza night, though probably accompanied by ample shooters.
Here’s the official blurb/background from Drafthouse about the film’s release:
In 1979, Iranian filmmaker John Rad moved to the U.S. to shoot his dream project, a rampaging gutter epic of crime, revenge, cop sex and raw power. Just 26 years later, he completed an American action film masterpiece that the world is still barely ready for today: Dangerous Men.
After Mina witnesses her fiancé’s brutal murder by beach thugs, she sets out on a venomous spree to eradicate all human trash from Los Angeles. Armed with a knife, a gun, and an undying rage, she murders her way through the masculine half of the city’s populace. A renegade cop is hot on her heels, a trail that also leads him to the subhuman criminal overlord known as Black Pepper.
It’s a pulse-pounding, heart-stopping, brain-devouring onslaught of ’80s thunder, ’90s lightning, and pure filmmaking daredevilry from another time and/or dimension. Blades flash, blood flows, bullets fly and synthesizers blare as the morgue overflows with the corpses of Dangerous Men.
In the summer of 2005, with his finished feature in hand, Rad embarked on his single greatest challenge to date: the journey to find an audience. Festival bookings and traditional distribution were a dead end, so Rad brashly chose the route of “four-walling,” an industry term for a theater rental, simply to allow the film an exhibition at any possible public venue. Rad coordinated screening times with a half dozen independent cinema owners, placed miniscule, affordable ads in neighborhood newspapers, and even took to the airwaves on local access television and radio (in both English and Farsi), then waited for the people of Los Angeles to discover his masterwork.
Then a strange thing happened… they did.
Not many, at the outset. Supposedly, box office revenue from the first week totaled $70 despite a glowing review in LA Weekly.
“Not dissimilar to David Lynch’s funicular emotionalism, Buñuel’s epistemological sight gags, Godard’s formalistic intrusions or the conceptual hysteria of something like Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession,” the review read. “It’s as if somehow, miraculously, our own present-day Ed Wood suddenly walked among us.”
But a few enterprising theatergoers had fallen under the magnetic pull of Dangerous Men, including Cinefile Video partner Hadrian Belove. In the week of the film’s release, Belove traveled to a neighborhood fourplex to watch it three separate times. He continued to sing its praise for years, including as he co-founded the Los Angeles theater The Cinefamily, which quickly became one of the country’s most revered destinations for film lovers.
“Seeing ‘Dangerous Men’ on its first, fly-by-night, fractional release I thought maybe it was some insane hoax, a prank played on the tiniest of audiences,” recalls Belove. “From its first explosive title card to catchy-kitsch simple-synth music to John S. Rad’s too-perfect name, it seemed too wild, too weird, too good to be true. Once it disappeared back into the ether, those few of us who’d seen it were stricken with an obsession to see it again, and failing that, it became some kind of campfire legend that we could recount to each other, savoring every perverse and insane detail of its blissful madness.”
Sadly, John Rad passed away in 2007. But by that time, Belove and others had made their appreciation of his work known. Later, Dangerous Men played at The Cinefamily, annihilating the crowd and planting the seed of genuine obsession in everyone who experienced it. Among them were Drafthouse Films, the Alamo Drafthouse programming team and the writers from Bleeding Skull, who themselves became infatuated with Rad’s singular expression of street violence and creative daring. After years of tracking down rights and elements, Rad’s daughter Samira agreed to work with Drafthouse Films to present her father’s incomparable feature to the world again for the first time.
“The Alamo Drafthouse has made many great contributions to the world of cinema,” says Belove, “But saving ‘;Dangerous Men’ may be the single most important thing they ever do.”
“It took us almost three and a half years of continuous begging, pleading and debasement before John Rad’s family agreed to license us the film,” said Drafthouse COO James Emanuel Shapiro. “It was well worth it! We are immensely proud that we’ve carved out our own niche of mind-shredding repertory releases and beyond thrilled to unleash what should very much be considered the Holy Grail of Holy F*cking Sh#t on audiences worldwide!”
Dangerous Men will get a limited theatrical release on November 13, while a VOD release is planned for December. It will hit the home market in early 2016.
Last Updated: October 6, 2015