He has a woman that takes a knife out of her behind to kill somebody. How does he think this is going to make money?”
More than 30 years after Iranian filmmaker Jahangir Salehi Yeganehrad, a.k.a. John S. Rad, began work on the L.A. sleaze cult film Dangerous Men, his daughter, Samira Wenzel, still shakes her head thinking about the mesmerizing, incomprehensibly riveting movie.
“I asked him, ‘What do you think? This is going to make millions of dollars?,'” Wenzel says. “He goes, ‘Well, there’s two ways of making money in the movie industry: One is you really need to spend a lot of money, get really good, top-notch actors and actresses and be with a Warner Bros. or a Disney. Or you can be on the…” — she pauses to find the right, deferential terminology — “other spectrum.'”
That other spectrum took Rad 26 years to complete. The director started the film in 1979, completed shooting in the mid-Nineties and spent years in post-production before releasing the film in 2005, just two years before his death at age 70. While the film reportedly made $70 upon its initial release, it’s since become a cult classic, with Drafthouse Films recently releasing the film nationwide and prepping a DVD/Blu-ray release for early next year. “The most effective way to get people excited about it is to just lay out that the filmmaker spent more than two decades making an action movie that takes place over the course of 10 days,” says Zack Carlson, an Austin-based film programmer who screened the movie at this year’s Fantastic Fest. “The more they think about that, the more impossible it gets.”
Try to explain the plot of Dangerous Men, and people will think you’re in the middle of a psychotic breakdown. A young woman and her fiancé are attacked by two villainous bikers during a breezy stroll along a beach; after he’s senselessly murdered, she goes on a murderous rampage through Los Angeles, stabbing and shooting as many pimps, johns and rapists as possible. The dead man’s brother, a cop who, we are told in every scene, is “supposed to be on vacation,” is investigating the case. However, for reasons not entirely clear, he shifts his focus mid-film to a bleached-blond mulleted biker named Black Pepper.