Trying to explain WEIRDO: THE BEGINNING in a thousand words or so is no easy feat. It’s a lot like trying to explain what ‘nothing’ is to a child who’s never heard the word.
Q: Daddy, what is nothing?
A: It’s nothing.
Q: But what is it?
A: I just told you, it’s nothing.
Q: What’s it look like?
A: Um…it doesn’t look like anything.
Q: It doesn’t look like something?
A: No, something can look like anything, because anything other than something is just nothing. But nothing just looks like nothing.
Q: Where can I find some nothing?
A: Hmm, everywhere, I guess. I mean, most of the universe is nothing. Then again, you can’t really find it, because it’s not there. Nothing doesn’t need to be somewhere, cuz it’s nothing. So it’s nowhere, too.
Q: Why did mommy leave us?
A: Cuz you were bad.
Shot and released in 1989, the making of this ‘movie’ was possibly contemporaneous with a brief flirtation I had with the Boy Scouts, and that was present in my mind as I watched. Not too much later, my mother would start dating an ‘outdoorsy’ guy who would abuse me and destroy the childhood purity that had, up to that point, been tenderly guarded by those who loved me. The man did not hit me or molest me. No, camping was his chosen form of abuse.
Also known as ‘wooding’, camping can often feel, depending on the participant’s tolerance for frigid temperatures, bowel discomfort and perpetual emasculation, like a Pre-Renaissance form of punishment. Hard to imagine that this practice still exists in our time, when teens are said to describe, while trembling, the temporary loss of their iPhone’s texting function as ‘torture’. That’s NOT how I define torture, personally. Not as long as I can still get on the internet.
This ‘movie’ helped me remember why I hate the outdoors. In the very opening scene our hero, Donnie(aka Weirdo), a skinny, mongrelized version of a person, is accosted while wandering through the forest collecting trash in a sack. Being a nature despiser, I’ve never had the chance to observe a donny up close. And if this movie contains any amount of accuracy, I don’t want to. Here are a couple of pictures of one, to help you understand what we’re dealing with here.
As should be plainly obvious, it’s hard to photograph donnies. Not only do they cower in the darker corners of the forest in daylight hours, but they are almost always being assaulted by bikers and personal trainers. It’s getting harder, too, as their native habitats slowly disappear beneath the cement foundations of urban sprawl. Though, not often, sometimes they can be seen wandering outside the perimeter of the gas stations and Dairy Queens that now occupy the spots where, once, the foul outhouses and sheds that used to be their homes stood.
The tale of Donny is the tale of all donnies. Rejected by their mothers, they live with pious old women and collect dirty frisbees, old turnips, and wood to decorate their bedrooms with. Donnies seem so much like us, that it’s easy to forget that they are still animals. Their person-like gazes imitate, quite realistically, visages of thought and emotion that can seem so human. This is understandable because, as actual people, capable of empathy, we have a tendency to attribute intelligence where there is nothing but shameful stupidity. But this Donny gets closer than most to crossing over that fine line.
He can almost speak, he can play with himself(I assume so, anyway, since the scene in which he is secretly observing a young female bathing, thankfully, transitions to a fade out before he begins), and he understands the value of sixty cents(an amount of money incomprehensible today). I ask you, what else makes a man a man? Seriously, that’s it. Also, due to his waif-like innocence and uselessness, people sympathize, befriend, and help him. Most dogs attract this sort of attention, too, but dogs have a reason to exist.
Like most irritating, lower-phylum creatures, Donny is spurned by his biological mother and driven away from the family nest when he’s old enough to spawn. This having already occurred years before the movie takes place, we don’t get to see it. That’s unfortunate, for it’s one of the more fascinating trials to be found in nature.
Typically, this process begins when the mother detects the scent of the donny’s hormonal glands, usually found wafting through a hole in the posterior of his unlabeled jeans, and he begins to attract females. The mother confronts the donny, using her hard, sharpened teats to threaten physical harm, to which he responds with immediate intestinal evacuation of the field mice and Doritos he feeds on. That’s usually the end of it. However, this one continually returns to be subjected to further abuse by her.
Though this ‘movie’ doesn’t exactly have a plot, every now and then something almost verifiable does occur. If you really need a story, you can make up one up for yourself. And that’s one thing I really do like about this ‘movie’ – it lets you use your imagination. Donny gets pummeled, mocked, even stabbed so frequently, and so viciously, that it seems almost like a service he provides to the community, and it’s left up to the viewer to figure out why. It takes a refreshing detour around those niggling little details, and challenges the audience to fill them in for themselves. It’s a bold approach, a real gamble. One that pays off better, at least, than a penny slot machine I once saw that spit out dead bees with AIDS.
You witness the first overtures of the donny mating ritual early on in the film, when a gimped female named Jenny wanderers into his creek-side bachelor hangout. Unless a great amount of time passes that the viewer of the film is unaware of, Donny and Jenny become instantly emotionally intertwined, even before they know very basic things about each other. This is, once again, another example of this ‘movie’s’ participatory approach to non-storytelling. Not unlike an ugly child with a dented head, abandoned in the back of a flatbed truck to raise itself on its own, WEIRDO: THE BEGINNING allows the viewer to create its own rules, ethics and morality.
Though Jenny, somehow, resists Donny’s romantic advances, at first, within one or two brief scenes she becomes fully dedicated to him. Defending him, yet keeping him at arm’s length. This is partly due to a violent experience in her past that has left her scarred, and partly because she must sense that Donny makes love with the gentle grace of a baboon fucking a coal-burning stove.
Though it touts itself as a love story, WEIRDO: THE BEGINNING is so much more than that. By using my imagination, I can create an entire universe within the vast empty spaces left in the narrative.
Why, I can imagine that Jenny’s inexplicable love for Donny stems from a resemblance he bears to her father, an environmental scientist named Pierre Caduz, who was tragically lost on a dangerous expedition to Antarctica while cataloging the diminishing ice shelves. The ‘movie’ leaves this open for discussion, making it seem to the viewer like being an embarrassing cripple is enough to make you grateful that any man loves you, even a forest-dwelling imbecile.
Also, the reason the three-dude biker gang hates Donny so passionately is never really dealt with. I mean, they beat him close to death every time they encounter him. The ‘movie’ leaves explaining it up to me! Hot dog!
I can use the magic of imagination to figure out the reason as having it’s origins in the town’s founding. Yes!
You see, two-hundred years earlier, the first settlers of the town committed sacrilege when they broke ground on an ancient Indian burial site. They angered the ancient Indian demon spirits that haunt the soil, who had deemed this sacred dirt the future site of a Blackfoot casino. Since then, once every generation the community must select some shit-for-brains wild boy as a sacrificial lamb, and they must abuse him mercilessly to appease them. This doesn’t interfere with the director’s own explanation, which is, none at all.
Eventually, though, something happens to kick start the third act. You will know this is happening, because something will be happening. Don’t be alarmed, it’ll feel like when a friend spikes you in the shin, waking you up before the teacher notices you’ve fallen asleep with your face cemented to your textbook by snot. Donny visits his mother only to have her reveal to him that his father is also his uncle. Following that, you’d think, might be hard, but then she tells him that she’s sold him into slavery to a Texas oil thousandaire. For what purpose, you can only imagine. Well, you’ll have to, actually. What they do with donnies down South is left up to you to devise. Personally, I smell barbecue.
Donny murders her with a cleaver. It’s a miraculous, bloodless beheading and is depicted below in a glorious VHS still. And you’re lucky to even have that, asshole, because you won’t find WEIRDO: THE BEGINNING on DVD. In fact, it only ever made it to VHS by accident, when Rusty, the teenage stepson of a Beaverton, Alabama KKK local chapter president, mistakenly recorded it over his stepdad’s tape of 1978 Super Bowl Highlights. This chance occurrence happened during WEIRDO’S one and only appearance on cable tv, when it was broadcast over a Chinese military satellite on a bet between two techs named Dong, who were later hung for treason.
Donny continues his bloody rampage, murdering a new person in the next several subsequent scenes. Murder is too strong a word, though, for the whiny, sniveling way he goes about his business. It’s too pathetic for first-degree homocide, but definitely more illegal than just doing nothing at all.
Eventually, he’s cornered in a wide open field and beaten to death by angry family members(the director’s family). Jenny leads the police to his body, but it’s gone! The policeman picks up the tattered jacket, covered in fresh blood, and says ‘Where’s the body?’. I suppose he’s never heard of the magic of imagination. Some people are hopeless.
Writer/Director Andy Milligan, maker of this, and many other, celluloidal tests of faith, has been dead these last twenty years. I’m not certain what killed him. Whatever it was – natural causes, disease, or an understandable suicide – it happened, just in time, to prevent a sequel to WIERDO. So, I guess that is kind of a happy ending.
You will not enjoy WEIRDO: THE BEGINNING. Nor will you learn anything from it. If I have to pinpoint a moral in this tale, it’s that what doesn’t kill you, doesn’t necessarily make you stronger, but might leave you alive just enough to limp off back into the wilderness, leaving a trail no one, not even the local police force, is interested enough to follow. Really, when it comes down to it, WEIRDO is about how anybody can find love, just as long as they absolutely do not care who it’s with.