Clifton Childree's Craziness

A filmmaker and genius with a junk obsession talks shop.

After their nefarious deeds are discovered, the thieves stuff the sailor into a coffin-shaped arcade game named "Wakey Wake." When the sailor's scrotum is slammed in the coffin lid, he transforms into a Hyde-like alter ego reminiscent of Snidely Whiplash, his balls swelling menacingly and his pubes blooming like kudzu. He exacts revenge.

In one memorable scene, Hyde burns his balls in the crematorium and then starts sucking the blood out of his scorched sack.

"I got the idea from a photograph my grandpa snapped while visiting Brazil a long time ago," Childree explains. "It was of a man suffering from elephantiasis whose nuts were so big he had to push them around in a wheelbarrow."

Childree channels crotch-gobbling ghoul "Mr. Sippers, The Tizzy Snatcher."
Michael McElroy
Childree channels crotch-gobbling ghoul "Mr. Sippers, The Tizzy Snatcher."
Childree rummages through junk for a raunchy bordello.
Michael McElroy
Childree rummages through junk for a raunchy bordello.


Click here to view a clip of Clifton Childree's Something Awful.

Childree films scenes out of sequence and often shanghais friends into playing bit parts. "They are all amazingly committed," says dancer and performance artist Nikki Rollason, Childree's girlfriend. "They show no fears when Cliff asks them to do these ridiculous things. No one sees a script, scenes are filmed out of order, and no one is sure what's going on except Cliff."

During the filming of It Gets Worse, Rollason was hijacked to play a character named Monkey Boy.

"There was this arcade game called the 'Master Baiter' and I played this little Monkey Boy with clown makeup and facial hair. Cliff gave me a penis after the fact. I didn't know I was going to end up ejaculating into a hot-dog bun," she giggles.

Childree also teamed up with Rollason for She Sank on Shallow Bank, the surreal tale of a dead girl who washes up on the bank of a bay, where her body hypnotically reacts to the flotsam. The movie won a Silver Outhouse for best experimental short film at the sixth annual Outhouse Film Festival in Baton Rouge.

"It was kind of a time-frame snapshot. As a kid, I would sit in a stairwell in front of the black-and-white pictures on my grandparents' walls and combine their histories in my head. That's how I came up with She Sank on Shallow Bank," Childree says.

Reasonover recalls that he and his cousins delighted in the tangles of seaweed, glass buoys, and odd-shaped pieces of driftwood that used to wash up on Mobile Bay, and never knew what they might discover there. "I'm glad those experiences show up in movies like Shallow Bank," he says.

Rollason mentions that while they were filming It Gets Worse in their back yard, their Haitian neighbor's children sat along the fence eating popcorn.

"It was like they were watching a movie or something," Childree laughs. "I think the mother might have freaked a bit about the guy with the big nuts, though."

On a rainy Friday afternoon in August, the heaps of bedraggled wood beams and snaking coils of orange extension cords that recently littered the floor at Locust have disappeared. Childree's project is beginning to look like a throwback Hollywood Western ghost town. He says that will change once he begins slathering his structures with buckets of obscenely garish "carnival-colored Home Depot reject paints."

Childree stops sawing and burning wood with a blowtorch outside. As the drizzle becomes a downpour, he shepherds New Times on a tour of his creaky rides. A solitary fan buzzes like a hornet smacking against a screen door. He pussyfoots through the remaining mess to a funhouse that includes a narrow maze, tunnels, and a plastic slide for an exit.

"It's called That's Nuts and is all about having your nuts tied up in different type of knots. I'm interested in old naval knots," he grins. "I recently made a slapstick movie where a sailor sits on a commode arcade game and someone reaches up through the plumbing and stretches the guy's balls until they drag on the floor. It gave me the idea it would be fun to tie nuts up for this attraction."

Childree hopes one dark ride, Sour Puss, will curdle the senses much like the brooding horror films Val Lewton produced for RKO Pictures in the Forties, such as The Body Snatcher. Those movies were "extremely low budget and preyed on the imagination. They really allowed the audience's fears of the unknown to become part of the experience."

The ride is hemmed off by a menacing snaggletoothed picket fence. Victorian-era gaslights abut the entrance to the groaning structure, which exudes an aura of psychological scar tissue.

"I am going to hang some Victorian dresses with bloodstains in [the ride]," Childree says. "I want it to be set in a bedroom with some film of Dracula or Jack the Ripper coming out from behind the bed. There is something sexually powerful about Dracula that's attractive. And Jack the Ripper went straight for the crotch." Childree's villain will be called "Mr. Sippers, The Tizzy Snatcher."

He says the dresses will be bloodstained at the crotch to evoke menstruating women and legends that werewolves and ghouls were attracted to them.

"I always wanted to make a movie where Dracula would suck the blood from his female victims' crotches instead of their necks," Childree laughs. "I also want to have blood pouring out of the door in this ride and through the cracks on the floor sort of like in a Kubrik movie. I used to have a lot of dreams of streetlamps like the ones in New Orleans that would draw energy from everything around them and then explode in an orgasm."

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