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Classic Underground Short Film: Madball

Filmmaker Charles Pinion is most well-known for his garish video splatter movies, like Twisted Issues and We Await. However, embedded above is his one completed foray into working with celluloid, the subdued (for him) fever dream known as Madball. A naive, well-kept young man enters a nightmare world of odd, depraved creatures that make his — and maybe yours — brain bleed.

The making of Madball and how it falls into Pinion’s directing career can be read in Part Two of the Underground Film Journal’s epic interview with the filmmaker. But, the skinny of it is that after making his first feature film on video, Twisted Issues, in Gainesville, Florida, Pinion moved to New York City and made this little film experiment before moving back into features.

The film fits in nicely with the New York City underground film tradition of it’s time. The lo-fi quality seems to be a holdover of the No Wave film scene while shooting slightly overexposed film on an NYC rooftop will certainly, even if only vaguely, dredge up a memory of Jack Smith‘s Flaming Creatures. And, of course, Pinion has always been somewhat tied with the Cinema of Transgression movement.

Black and white image of a ball with a grotesque face

Madball is a fun little watch with a great psychedelic soundtrack by Ace Inhibitor that recalls music one might hear in a film by one of Pinion’s biggest influences, Ray Dennis Steckler.

Madballs, by the way for you kids out there, were a real toy the ’80s that spawned a Marvel comic book and an animated TV show.


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