Don’t feel bad if you’re never heard of the Kuchar brothers. After all, unless you were a regular attendee of underground cinema during the 1960s, you’re unlikely to be familiar with a cinematic oeuvre that includes such titles as “The Naked and the Nude,” “I Was a Teenage Rumpot,” “Sins of the Fleshapoids,” “The Craven Sluck” and many, many others.
“It Came From Kuchar,” the celebratory documentary account of their unique careers, is playing an exclusive engagement at NYC’s Anthology Film Archives.
Twin brothers who grew up in the Bronx during the 1950s — they describe the vacant lots caused by the construction of the Cross Bronx Expressway as “a wonderful place to play” — George and Mike Kuchar made their early anarchic efforts, most of them influenced by Hollywood melodramas of the period, in 8mm, using friends and family as cast members. (One opening credit reads, “Starring the Liebowitz Family.”)
Motivated by a passion for filmmaking rather than a desire for fame or riches, they were content to work on the fringes. Nonetheless, their films attracted many devoted fans, some of whom went on to become filmmakers themselves. Among those interviewed here are John Waters (“They should be knighted,” he declares, before describing how the infamous turd-eating scene in “Pink Flamingos” was directly inspired by a similar moment in a Kuchar film), Atom Egoyan, Guy Maddin and Wayne Wang.
Featured prominently is friend and fan Buck Henry, whose deadpan comments about films like “Thundercrack” — “It certainly lives up to its title” — are some of the doc’s most amusing moments.
Directed by Jennifer M. Kroot, a former student of George’s (he eventually went on to teach at the San Francisco Art Institute), clearly this is an affectionate portrait rather than a meaningful critical analysis.
But the copious film clips on display — not to mention the recent footage of the indefatigable George filming his latest opus, featuring an inflatable giant squid — tells you everything you need to know.
Opened: Friday, April 9 (Tigerlily Pictures)
Director: Jennifer M. Kroot
Producer: Holly Million
Cinematographer: Christopher Million
Editor: Tom Bullock
No rating, 86 minutes