Over-Sexed Rugsuckers from Mars – Michael Paul Girard

Nationality: USA

Year: 1989

Pros:  Weirdness CAN become art . . . in a way.

Cons:  Holy ****** ***** ******!!!

Selected Cast:

Vernon (the tramp) Dick Monda
Rena Jean Stewart
DVD details - at the time of writing (2009) this is only available on a US Region 1 import


One thing you can say about this film . . . the title definitely attracts attention! 

Clay Martians!  Vacuum Cleaner Rape!!  Vacuum Cleaner Romance!!! Murder!!!!  Tragedy!!!!!  Suicide!!!!!!

There is a point in artistic creation where weirdness becomes both an art and a redemption.  There is a type of film where the imagination runs to such strange places that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ no longer have any meaning.  Where bad acting, cringe-worthy moments and shoddy camera work are forgotten in the face of a strange sublime and crazy genius.  The genius of an inventive mind who is not afraid to think things that most directors would chuck out in a second as just too absurd and, in the process, creates something that is more like outsider art than silly B movie. Maybe. 

Death Bed; The Bed that Eats had some of that.  But that quietly bizarre work is eclipsed by the utter gem from 1989 entitled Over-Sexed Rugsuckers from Mars.  One of the greatest works of art ever created by the human mind.  Would I lie to you?


I had never heard of this one until very recently.  Never even encountered a glimmer of it among the forums discussing the curiosities of cinema – where film buffs compete to out-do each other in the cinematic strangeness they have experienced.  Where some champion Tim Burton or David Lynch as the strangest thing they have ever seen, while others whisper obscurely of Sweet Movie, Death Bed, Brain Dead (the 1989 film, not the Peter Jackson gorefest) or the odds that have come out of Asia.  No one seems to have heard of Rugsuckers though!  I finally stumbled upon it in a less positive way on the wonderful www.badmovies.org, who absolutely hated it!  I quote:

Pause with me for a second. Among my many worries is this: eons in the future, a researcher is going to discover a computer left over from our lost civilization. In a quest to understand what the world was like in the Twenty-First Century, they are going to examine the hard drive, but the only thing they manage to recover is one of my reviews. Or, even worse, all of my reviews. That would be...horribly misleading.

G'Zaat 1002.391, if you are reading this, we were nothing like the movies we made.


Well – that is possibly true.  Given that the percentage of people falling in love with vacuum cleaners is really quite small – and the percentage of those who find their love requited is even smaller.   But hey – who am I to argue with romance! 

I would not dispute the classification of Rugsuckers as a ‘bad’ film.  Well . . . you cant can you! From it's opening scene of low-grade voyeurism, via lingering shots of scantily clad girls doing bending exercises before open windows to the weirdly sentimental end, it is a total disaster! But that has to be qualified.  First of all – what exactly does ‘bad’ mean?  Well – a bad movie can be many things.  Sometimes even actually bad, I suppose!  But it can also become a kind of genre in its own right.  A genre of films that, while the quality may be low in many areas – while the rough edges and the strings holding it together may be painfully visible and where the embarrassment factor is through the roof – they still have their own unique spirit that engenders love and delight.  It is the fascination and charm of the B movie and the warts and all/ flaws and all delight of being creative.  A fascination with what people can come up with even though they have little skill or experience – not to mention budget and technology . . . or taste!  The reactions here can be very personal.  One feels these films to be a guilty pleasure – something that one should keep quiet about at your next intellectual gathering, where people are more at home discussing Von Trier or Godard or Herzog.  And yet . . . when looked at in the right way - looking for the sheer originality that can exist here occasionally, this genre of ‘bad’ movies occasionally seems to start straying over into the somewhat diffusely defined ‘Outsider Art’ category.  The art of the ingenuous and the untrained and the ex-establishment and what that can reveal about humanity and human nature.  And it then it becomes another world of material that can be trawled for that spark of something truly creative that makes it into not a bad film but – somehow and against all logic and expectations – a good one at the same time.  And what’s not to love about this loopy and surreal 80s Los Angeles comedy??

Well, yeah – thinking about it, almost everything I suppose! 

  • Aliens, shocked at the mess of the earth, somehow thinking that it would be a good idea to create a human/vacuum cleaner hybrid to clean it up. 
  • A female lead guaranteed to annoy every feminist in the world. 
  • Same female lead trying to look convincing being raped by an awkwardly animated vacuum cleaner (give her credit though – how convincing do you think YOU would look?). 
  • A loopy sexual humour that can turn your hair grey. 
  • A detective straight out of Raymond Chandler (well, almost!) who is married to a sheep. 
  • Some truly truly truly awful music. 
  • Male characters also guaranteed to annoy every feminist in the world and I don’t blame ‘em. 
  • A UFO on a string. 
  • Same female lead giving birth to a miscarriage consisting of equal parts stop-motion baby doll and small vacuum cleaner. 
  • A character guaranteed to annoy every practitioner of alternative medicine and spiritual healing in the world. 
  • Grisly death on the railway lines. 
  • Tiny martian claymation puppets struggling to climb up rubbish bins. 
  • Special effect that – hmm, well Ray Harryhausen this ain’t!  I am sure that some things were cut into the film by the simple expedient of pointing a camera at a TV screen! 
  • The bizarre spectacle of a vacuum cleaner taking a dump on the toilet. 
  • A police chase on loaded shopping trolleys complete with blue flashing light . . .
  • Death, Tragedy and suicide.
  • And the best scene in the entire movie – the vacuum cleaner police identity parade, presented with a strange LAPD melancholy.  Priceless!

(The above in no particular narrative order!)

And hey – writing that list, I am just remembering why I loved it!  It is a silly comedy, I grant you – but it’s not a normal comedy where everything is sacrificed for simply getting as many laughs per minute as you can.  I can say that much. The sheer bizarreness of the imagination going on here somehow carries it through all it’s strange flaws.  It’s simultaneously just plain bad, 'so bad that it is good' and so good that it is mindboggling.  It’s silly, daft, embarrassing and generally etc etc – but indeed, this really is so off the wall that it has entered the ‘Outsider Art’ territory.  I think.  The way it is put together is not without art in its own way, for all its hokeyness.  Art that is struggling with the low budget and everything but nevertheless there.  It is actually trying to tell a story here rather than just fool around.  It really is one of those movies that is almost impossible to define because it is such a one-off.  Just like Death Bed.  Badmovies.org will probably throw up their hands in despair – or, more likely call me unspeakable and obscure insults that i have never heard anyone else use ever – but I have to stand up for this nutty film because at least it is nutty in such an individual and genuine way!  It touched the spot that very few touch – that great art movies cannot touch – made me chuckle in horrified fascination and took me on a brief trip to . . . somewhere else.  Somewhere else within this strange phenominon that is human creativity. At the very least, it is something really very different to probably anything else you have seen.  Ok – so most of my readers will probably look at this film and go “Gaaaaaahhhhh!!!”  But hey – credit where credit is due.  Anyone to even attempt the comic tale of a tragic romance between a tramp and an animated vacuumed cleaner surely deserves SOME respect!

Ok, so it's a disaster. But it is one of the best and most creative disasters! If there is a moral to this story, it is simply this: Don’t overlook the household appliances!  And above all, don’t feed them aphrodisiacs . . .



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