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(Originally posted 10/02/14)

Fat Out Of Hell

It was only about 7 years ago that I became what you could call a movie “collector”. The wife and I had taken to hitting up flea markets to feed our new “hobby”. We would hit any we could drive to and back home from within the span of an afternoon. This particular afternoon was a scorcher. I’m not sure exactly what the temperature was, but judging from the small lagoon forming in my pants, I’d guess high 90’s. This particular flea market was quite big and the developers were bright enough to make it enclosed. Perfect for days like this. Well, “perfect” if they would have put in air conditioning. Instead, they had small fans circulating the already stagnant, hot air. I now know what it feels like to be the insides of a Hot Pocket.

In the small, dirty, cluttered booth of a used movie dealer, I found the DVD you see above. Look at the cover, people! How could you not want to watch that? To be quite honest, the thought of a Dracula that looked like Tony Orlando was just as compelling as Ethel and her “250 pounds of maniacal fury”. And just so we are clear on one thing from the very beginning….. 250 lbs? That bitch lyin’!

Crazy Fat Ethel (as I prefer to call it) was directed by Nick Phillips. Nick’s real last name is Millard. I guess he must not have been too proud of the films he was making as he changed it for his film career. Either that or he owed money to the mob and didn’t want to be found. If I had made this movie, I’m not sure that I would want to be found either.

The film starts in a mental hospital where we find Ethel straight-jacketed in her padded cell. Ethel is played by Priscilla Alden. Like our buddy, Nick, I’m pretty sure that this is another alias. This time for Meat Loaf Aday. After a quick round of completely soundless electroshock therapy, Ethel is then released by her doctor into the care of her grandmother, but not before he suggests that Ethel lose some weight. That’s America for you. We spend all this time and effort chastising others for their aesthetics, but yet we have no problem when it comes to just letting psychopaths walk our streets. Psychopaths like Ethel. (Heh? See what I did there?)

In what we will have to consider “character development”, the next few scenes are of Ethel preparing and eating her breakfast. A breakfast that consists of 8 fried eggs, an entire jumbo pack of bacon, and 4 slices of toast. Throw in some cheese grits and that’s some good eatin’. You’re my kind of people, Ethel.

The film suddenly jumps ahead to what I assume is the end of the evening. I assume this because we get to watch Ethel making her bedtime snack, but knowing Ethel, it could just be noon. Her bedtime “snack” consists of a carton of milk (I said “carton”. Does milk still come in cartons?), a box of Nilla wafers, and sack of hard candies. I don’t know about you, but nothing puts me to sleep like a belly full of milk and starlight mints.

Fun Fact: If you look closely at the “missing child” photo on the carton of milk that Ethel is carrying, you will see a photo of my will to live. It’s been a long 8 mins.

Ethel wakes up from her nap. As it’s been more than 5 minutes, Ethel is naturally hungry again. She walks to the kitchen in search of prey, but is shocked to find all the cupboards devoid of food. Ethel’s grandmother, in an effort to control her eating, has locked all of the food in a cabinet under the sink. This, folks, just will not do.  I remember once watching an octopus that had been given a corked bottle with a goldfish in it. That octopus searched all around that bottle. Finally, the squid uncorked the bottle, reached in a tentacle, and grabbed that fish. A hungry animal will find a way. Okay, that wasn’t me. I think it was Treat Williams in Deep Rising.

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Seeing as she must eat, Ethel grabs a knife and kills Granny. When the old woman refuses to release the key from her death grip, Ethel hacks up her hand in order to get the key free. Ethel’s pretty serious when it comes to Cap’n Crunch “Oops, All Berries” cereal.

The next morning, Ethel calls the local grocer to have the week’s groceries delivered. She’s informed that she still owes for past deliveries. Ethel tells them to have the food delivered and she will cover the entire bill. We know this is not true. When the delivery boy doesn’t get paid as promised, he attempts to leave with the delivery. Ethel knocks him out with what appears to be a bottle of mojo.  She then stabs him repeatedly in the gut with the neck from the broken bottle. At least she was wise enough to tenderize and marinate him first.

A woman knocks on the door and Ethel is forced to drag the delivery boy’s body to another room. This woman is Ethel’s sister, Rosalie. Rosalie doesn’t seem to think much of the blood on the floor. Of course not. Why should she? She’s too concerned about not being found by her boyfriend, John. That name becomes more fitting when we quickly find out that Rosalie is a prostitute. We do get to see one of her other “John’s”, whom I’m pretty sure is Mickey from the Hotel Broslin in a toupee.

Shortly after, John finds out where Rosalie has been staying and comes to visit her. I guess she wasn’t trying to hide too hard as she quickly lets him in. It’s implied that John is also acting as a pimp for Rosalie and he quickly sets up shop (and residence) in Granny’s home. We then see the two of them naked in bed together, at which point John informs her that, ” You need a good beating every once in a while. All women do. And you especially. Okay?”. Well, as long as she’s aware, right?

Within a short period of time, both John and Rosalie start noticing the smell coming from Granny’s room, where Ethel has stashed the bodies of both Granny and the delivery boy. The body count rises a little from this point on, but there is nothing that would be considered a “surprise development”. (Well, maybe one at the end.) And we do get more scenes of Ethel eating. Ya know, just in case you have forgotten her motivation.

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Keep an eye out for late, veteran character actor Buck Flower (“The Fog“, “They Live“, “Drive-In Massacre“) as a detective investigating the disappearance of the delivery boy. While Buck does not sport his familiar facial hair in this movie, he’s still very easy to spot. He’s the one with any kind of acting ability.

Criminally Insane” is the type of movie that really raises a lot of questions. The main one being “Dear Gawd, what have I done with my life?” The others being “Why was this made?” and “Why the hell did I pay money for this?”. All things considered, it’s a very dark movie that happens to have a plot ridiculous enough to be humorous.

If you are curious as to how this ends, here’s a little hint: the DVD features the sequel, Criminally Insane 2. I’m sure that at least one person is asking if I will be reviewing it. No. No, I will not. Why? Because FUCK YOU! That’s why! You go watch that bullshit.

Here’s the trailer….

C’mon….. you knew that was coming.

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