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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

GONE CRAZY -- DVD Review by Porfle

Talk about obscure--I couldn't find any info about GONE CRAZY online, it isn't on IMDb, and even the press release from IndiePix Films lists its year as "1980s." (Amazon says "1980" and the DVD cover says "1983.") 

The castmembers who actually appear on IMDb have no credit in their filmographies that resembles it.  That alone gives this enigmatic effort a bit of lost-film mystique which adds to its interest.

It's an interest this movie can use, being a rather dull and unremarkable affair.  What makes it noteworthy is that it's part of a roster of South African films made during apartheid and shown to black audiences, films which have succumbed to neglect over the years but are now being digitally restored and released to modern-day audiences as part of IndiePix Films' "Retro Afrika Collection."

The story begins when a disgruntled former city employee named Vusi firebombs the mayor's house, then breaks into a scientific facility and steals a new "super bomb" with which he plans to blow up the nearby dam where he used to work, and flood the town in retaliation for having lost his job. 

The mayor calls in the town's chief inspector while a lady scientist, Professor Gumbi, hires a private investigator.  The two end up working together to track down Vusi and find the bomb before it can destroy the town and its inhabitants.  Vusi, meanwhile, kidnaps Professor Gumbi and leaves her tied up atop the dam as the minutes tick down to detonation.

This is very basic stuff--blandly directed, languidly paced, and repetitive (the same exposition and plot points get rehashed over and over while the good guys try to decide their next move).  Most of it is filmed in cramped indoor sets until finally, in the third act, a terrific found location is used as the town's dam.

It's here, late in the film, that things finally pick up and the good guys go into action to foil Vusi's twisted plot.  Director Tony Cunningham manages to generate some suspense at last, and the cast, particularly those portraying Vusi and Professor Gumbi, do their best to sell it.  

Visually, GONE CRAZY is sort of a spiritual cousin to those threadbare shot-on-video titles that started coming out in the 80s and 90s when anybody with a video camera could make movies (the works of J.R. Bookwalter come to mind), although being shot on actual film makes a big difference.  The print used here has been restored quite nicely. 

While many viewers may rightly avoid a film of this nature, I derive a good deal of fun and pleasure from watching such an effort in which the filmmakers have severely limited resources with which they do their best to turn out passable entertainment. 

In its own way, GONE CRAZY is sort of the cinematic equivalent of "primitive art"--earnestly done and, if watched in the right frame of mind, somewhat endearing.

Actors: Pepsi Mabizela, Fikile Majozi, Roy Dlamini
Format: Color, NTSC, 3:2, Stereo
Language: Zulu
Subtitles: English
Number of discs: 1
Rated: NR
Studio: Indiepix Films
Run Time: 75 minutes
Extras: Trailer


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