Long before YouTube, there were the brilliantly insane, no-budget movies of underground, filmmaking twins George and Mike Kuchar. Creating stars out of their friends and family with just consumer-grade cameras, the teenage Kuchar brothers went from the 1960’s New York City underground film scene of Andy Warhol and Kenneth Anger to become the twin maestros of B-movie glamour and sleaze.
I was very sad to hear today of the death of genius filmmaker, educator, artist and underground cartoonist George Kuchar.
When the authors of The Theory of Wholetone Gubble composed that groundbreaking manifesto, it is believed that they were only marginally familiar with George’s work. But I could be completely wrong. The shared “can do” spirit is, however, quite clear. I have no idea if greater familiarity with the Kuchar’s films during the most productive of the Brown Cuts Neighbors video making years would have more greatly inspired us or totally destroyed us. What energy! What endurance! A hero!
Kuchar..ahh… I was just delivering a lecture about filmmaking the evening he passed… I spent alot of time talking about how many popular directors he has influenced. This man is/was an inspiration to so many. As soon as I was exposed to his work, as well as the Kuchar brothers cannon, his influence began seeping into my own work without me even noticing, until someone pointed it out. All great artists do that to people. Vastly underrated of course. No revelations there. He worked tirelessly with the wonder and fascination of a child, involving all kinds of people in his work, making magic happen for so many. Anyone out there who hasn’t had a chance to see his work, you’ll wanna look him up. theres a great doc out there called “It Came from Kuchar”. Much love wherever you are George. Much love.
A scene from George Kuchar’s 1975 feature film The Devil’s Cleavage, a mad pastiche/homage of Douglas Sirk, but with more vomit. Appearing in the film are cartoonists Diane Noomin, Art Spiegelman (MAUS) and Bill Griffith (Zippy). The latter two were the editors on the underground comix anthologies Short Order and Arcade, which George contributed a handful of comic strips and illustrations to in 1974-1975. The best known of these being his 3-page biography of H. P. Lovecraft which was more recently reprinted in the first edition of Graphic Classics Volume 4.
1977 portrait of H.P. Lovecraft by George Kuchar.
Brother Mike’s Sins of the Fleshapoids, starring George. “We are Robots…. yet we are in love”
The classic 1966 short “Hold Me While I’m Naked
Take a crash course in George Kuchar’s films at UBU Web – complete with color commentary by the director and contemporary reviews.
The 2009 documentary It Came from Kuchar (trailer above) “interweaves the brothers’ lives, their admirers, a history of underground film and a “greatest hits” of Kuchar clips into a mesmerizing stream of consciousness tale.”
Prolific, Profane, and Profound: George Kuchar (1942-2011) by Jon Korn on the Culture Feed at Bay Citizen
Michael Keegan remembers George over on the Roxie Theater blog.