Friday, April 29, 2011


FILM REVIEW: CATECHISM CATACLYSM: The New Surrealist's Handbook, by BillyJack Williams 

Todd Rohal is the new Godfather of surrealist cinema. There. I said it. In case you haven’t heard of him, he’s the guy responsible for The Guatemalan Handshake but his latest, Catechism Cataclysm is on a different plane of existence.
Catechism is a Salvador Dali portrait of the mind of a twelve-year-old boy on acid stuck in the body of a priest, jammed into a canoe, swilling a case of beer and rocking out to the Slayer anthology. Rohal achieves this, all while providing the painful belly laughs provided by an all-night marathon of This is Spinal Tap.

The film starts out on a day like any other, (for those of us trying to make up for a life of sin,) in church. Father Billy (Steve Little of HBO’s Eastbound and Down,) is a bumbling, incompetent, viral-video-obsessed priest who lacks the good sense to hide his foibles and idiosyncrasies from his parish. This… and he provides Kaufman-esque belly laughs by yanking the rug out from under our brains ‘til our funny bones can’t take it any more… and start punching the crap out of our stomachs. Rohal’s objective seems to be to twist our minds into a magic-unicorn pretzel, so it is no surprise that his faux-parable spouting Father Billy is a vehicle for bringing the audience on a what-the-fuck-just-happened ride down the murky waters of the river Absurdia only to arrive at a boy-scout camp run by Old Scratch who is presumably messed up on peyote.

On the day that Billy attempts to draw a moral conclusion with the “parable” of an old woman who pulls out a gun on a pair of would-be-thieves, the elder clergy at the Church decide that they’ve had enough. Billy is ordered to reconsider his vocation and sent on a spiritual vacation. Enter Robbie (Robert Longstreet,) the heavy-metal, head-banging roadie/ former boyfriend of Father Billy’s sister. Billy’s sister, naturally is long since out of the picture, but this seems to matter little to our church-going leading man who, as it turns out, has been keeping tabs on his head-banging buddy since high school, and has always been a big fan of his writing. Of course, this is the furthest thing from Robbie’s mind since he can’t even remember Father Billy, and only agreed to the trip to get Billy to stop sending him emails.

The mismatched duo embark on a fishing trip which starts out ordinarily enough, but takes us from kicking back beers, to places in the mind you wouldn’t expect. The trip takes a bizarre turn when Father Billy and Robbie get lost, only to be “rescued” by two sexy-panda-outfit-wearing Asian women with a limited grasp of English. They are accompanied by a stoic trip-guide who speaks not a word until he decides to confess to Father Billy while Billy is falling-down drunk, and urinating in the dark by a tree.

Admittedly, I had no idea what to expect when I fired up my screener copy of the film, but like any good trip, this film is best viewed without any knowledge of what is coming next. So, to do no further injustice to your viewing experience, I will close in saying that this was the funniest film I’ve seen all year. Catechism Cataclysm was like Easy Rider meets The Holy Grail in a canoe. Two epic journeys of epic proportion with enough silly left-turns to keep you doubled-over with laughter for the film’s 75-minute run time. See this movie. I will kill anyone who says this movie wasn’t the funniest thing they’ve seen all year.

Film: "Catachism Cataclysm"
Director: Todd Rohal
Film's website:

Review written by BillyJack Williams
Editor: Joseph James Bellamy
Published by Reel Zine
© Reel Zine 2011

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