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...
'Fatty Drives the Bus' - 1999, Directed by Mick Napier
I'll forgive you if you don't expect much from the average Troma film. For those who aren't well-versed in trash cinema, Troma is the production company responsible for 'The Toxic Avenger' and pretty much any other film like it. Lloyd Kaufman and company not only pump out their own trashy b-movies (at least a few each year) but they also release and re-release other independent films.
If you know someone who is a Troma fan, they will most likely tell you to watch Kaufman's pictures and stay far away from the non-Kaufman projects. I, on the other hand, will watch pretty much anything released under the Troma banner, and ESPECIALLY the oddball flicks they choose to reissue. See, I love all the 'authentic' Troma pictures, but even more than that, I love Kaufman's taste in film.
It's not like he's just putting out every low-budget monster movie he comes across. The man clearly has an eye for the original and outlandish. And, that's an apt description of 'Fatty Drives the Bus.'
Released in 1999, this is the only film directed and written by Mick Napier, best known for the short-lived Comedy Central program 'Exit 57,' which also featured a young Stephen Colbert and Amy Sedaris. And, it definitely has a lot in common with that gonzo, anything-goes mindset of early Comedy Central programming.
It also shares the awkward humor and public access TV strangeness that shows like 'Tim and Eric: Awesome Show, Great Job!' are known for. Basically, it's not only one of the funniest things Troma has released, but also probably one of the best indie comedies of the 90's.
Created by a Chicago theatre troupe, the film tells the story of Roger, a bus tour guide who is actually Satan. His goal is to take the souls of all the people on this particular bus tour before it crashes, killing them all. The only problem is that Jesus is also in Chicago for the week, and may try to thwart his plans. In fact, one of Satan's minions was going to cancel the bus trip, but Satan wanted to go right ahead anyways.
Sound a little silly? Well, it is...but it gets better. Most of the film consists of the oddball folks on the bus tour and their interactions. There's a depressed mother who hates her daughter and reminds her constantly, a couple of yokels from farm country, and a bizarre couple who barely leave their seats because they're afraid of the other passengers.
Throughout, there are plenty of strange one-liners and odd situations, and there's not a dull moment during the hour-twenty-two run time. Also, the whole thing is overseen by a demented narrator and his piano-playing sidekick.
It's a shame Napier didn't go on to anything bigger, but thanks to Troma you can experience this one-of-a-kind comedy FREE:
VHS photo by Toby Hudson.