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It's 11:30 p.m. on a Friday at Churchill's Pub (5501 NE Second Ave.), and Miami filmmaker Aiden Dillard, age 26, is positioning the legs of an inflatable doll on his shoulders. She wears a pink chiffon dress and sequin Santa hat.
"Ho, ho, ho, it's that gift-giving time of year," he says, holding in his right hand a red Christmas stocking jammed with copies of his latest film, Meat Weed America! — a wholesome, highbrow flick about cannibal farmers in Durham, North Carolina, who show their patriotism by smoking terrorists' foreskins. In Dillard's other hand, he's clutching a bullhorn, complete with a function that blares car alarm sounds.
The film cost approximately $12,000 to make. Produced by Troma, the company behind the USA Up All Night classic The Toxic Avenger, it's a sequel to Dillard's first feature, Meat Weed Madness, a spoof of 1936's Reefer Madness. "The premise of that movie," he explains with eyes bugged and brows high on his wrinkled forehead, "was four women come to Meat Weed Manor and are attacked by transvestite lunatics who hack them up and make marijuana out of them."
The plot of Meat Weed America!? The same. Except there's a jihadis-versus-nuns twist that Dillard says resulted from the suggestions of liberal, left-wingers who picked up some of the film's tab.
"I'm mainly into the trash and the sleaze because I'm a very repressed, perverted person," he adds. "I try to let everything out in my movies. Otherwise I may go around attacking people and whatnot."
He says all of this mere minutes before Meat Weed America! is to make its Miami debut on Churchill's starlit patio. The screen is already in place, surrounded by paintings of the London Underground symbol and a pig with bursting teets. About 30 bodies occupy half of the vacant, paint-chipped seats.
Dillard and I stand behind a flimsy cotton curtain that separates the screening area from the rest of the patio. He holds the bullhorn, which he plans to use "like a circus promoter," as he adjusts his wig and secures the plastic, air-filled legs around his neck.
Then he busts through the dark cloth, enters the densely populated bar area, and sounds the bullhorn's car alarm. The crowd doesn't respond, so he starts shouting what sounds like "Fkdhfskfhskdfh corn holing eiurowrueworu macrobiotic pussies kkdsfslfjslfjd," into the bullhorn.
After 10 minutes, about 10 more people have filtered onto the patio for the start of the movie. When the projectors roll, Dillard appears onscreen making a monkey noise. He's completely naked, revealing a lean, cut body with nether regions badly censored by a superimposed image of Osama bin Laden's head. "Hello, my name is Aiden Dillard and I am the director of this here motion picture," he says as he kicks, wiggles, punches, and flings his limbs about like a ninja on meth. The smiling face of bin Laden floats around slowly, lazily covering his package, leaving nothing to the imagination.
He quietly explains to me that the actors are friends (or friends of friends), so they weren't paid much. The story line was greatly affected by "who'd call in sick, who'd wuss out and didn't really want to do it, or who's car broke down and couldn't make it."
Watching Meat Weed, you can tell this. Sometimes the actors appear, well, a bit unprofessional. For instance, in one scene, Topless Tattooed Chick with Short Hair in Pigtails drinks the blood of her victim through a large plastic straw. She picks up a bucket of blood and pours it over her face. Then she begins to crack up.
"If I was a smoker, I'd be smoking right now," says Maurice, a 31-year-old, well-groomed guy with a budding 'fro who sits next to me.
As he says this, on the screen a farmer who lives in Meat Weed Manor is being circumcised by a gang of turban-wearing Suicide Girls (terrorists) in an act of revenge for smoking the foreskin of their leader, bin Smokin. Maurice's hand covers his face, leaving a small space between his fingers for viewing purposes. "Is there some kind of political, social point to this?" Maurice asks as one of the terrorists butt-rapes the farmer with a giant ear of corn.
I turn around and find Dillard in the back by the curtain. He's smiling as he observes the audience. He jerks his torso back and forth, resembling a Punch-a-Clown or someone who's had one too many Red Bull and vodkas. I walk over. "How much acid did you take before making this movie?" I ask.
"Actually this is really embarrassing to admit," he says, turning his head and confiding in a neighboring wall, "I've never even had a single beer in my entire life.... But I'm not opposed at all to drug use or alcohol use or any kind of use. I just don't do it myself. I make these movies because I wish I did it. I wish that I drank. I wish that I smoked pot. I wish that I had sex a lot."
During his confession, people walk out for more booze. Onscreen a topless dominatrix crams terrorist crackers — animal crackers that read "Bin Smokin' Crackers" — into the mouth of the farmers' leader, Lord Meat Weed. The dominatrix screams, "Eat the crackers!" A nun comes to rescue Lord Meat Weed with a strangling snake, which a second later looks more like a sock puppet.
A guy in the front starts laughing hysterically as the audience thins to about eight people, most of whom are smoking cigarettes, biting nails, or looking around embarrassedly. Dillard tries to entice more viewers. This time he's armed with a picket sign that includes the image of The Hempress (Troma star Debbie Rochon) mounting a pretty Southern belle, Jessie Bell Meat Weed, who is wearing a marijuana-embellished corset.
Sitting around the corner from me, a swoopy-banged, 27-year-old pretty-boy named T.V. does his personal rendition of Ebert and Roeper for a friend sitting next to him. "The shots are too tight and the actors are too heavy with their hand movements," he says. "You never see any wide shots, which gives the viewer time to think. That's important in a movie. And there's no silence."
"So I'm assuming you're not a fan?" I interrupt.
"I'd never be involved in this movie," he says through bee-stung lips. "I'm too conservative."
Conservative? Sure. T.V. is wearing a gray blazer, flip-flops, and what appear to be leopard-print chef pants. "The director also relies on the conformities of porn, but it's not sexy. If you're going to make porn, make it sexy. If not, make it disturbing," he continues.
Onscreen, a naked nun begs a bull-like creature with a giant cigarette for a penis to give her some of his "purple puss." Suddenly the bull splooges all over her chest.
A couple of people get up and walk out. Most of the audience, now about 50 strong, laughs.
The nun, now impregnated by the bull creature, yells for someone to get her a coat hanger but then gives birth to a bull-like creature that has cigarettes protruding from its face. Soon the baby crawls up the vagina of a terrorist, who just had lesbian sex with the nun, and begins growing. It's rebirthed as a giant cow head with legs. Both new mothers coo, cup their boobs, and ask their infant to "suck on these."
Dillard explains he built the creature out of papier-mâché in 2004, when he lived in a converted motel at NE 79th Street and Biscayne Boulevard. "I observed the seediest side of Miami — hookers and plenty of noises from my neighbors," he says. He also saw rich people who "owned a half-million-dollar condo which only their dog lived in."
This extreme separation in class is the inspiration for his next movie, Special Angel. The film, he says, "was shot on better equipment, and the actors are talented and less prone to take off their clothes."
Then the credits roll on Meat Weed America! I turn to Maurice, who's one of the few people who stuck it out for the duration. "How'd you like it?" I ask.
"It had a couple of good lines," he says, smiling and gazing at the topless women who wiggle about in the credits, "but it was the titties that were nice."