by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Sickened is a micro-budget film ($12,000 according to IMDb) which was created by writer/director Phil Herman, who also stars. If Hollywood is the film industry's equivalent of Broadway; and Sundance-style indie films are tantamount to Off-Broadway; it's not easy to come up with a theatrical parallel for a film like this. One must go far beyond simply placing multiple "offs" in an extended Broadway hyphenate. One must even go beyond dinner theater and community theater. This is more like a garage band, or a bunch of kids putting on a backyard show. The film's home page is on Angelfire, fer chrissakes. I didn't even know that still existed. I thought that it had gone the way of Geocities and cattle drives.

Not that there's anything wrong with all of that. These sorts of projects possess a desirable characteristic that many slick Hollywood productions have lost - they are driven by the love of personal expression on film, and not by money. They do what they do because they like it. Therefore, micro-budget filmmakers have no need to make compromises to satisfy investors or to mollify mainstream audiences. The auteurs do what they want to do. Sometimes that kind of sincerity resonates with a wider audience, and a Clerks is born, but most of the time the creators just keep pumping out straight-to-vid projects for narrowly-targeted audiences.

We fans of screen nudity are one of the specially targeted demographics. If we watch a Hollywood film, there is zero chance that we will see Jessica Alba jogging stark naked, or doing nine separate nude scenes comprising more than 11 minutes of running time. Nor will we see Parker Posey doing that in a Sundance film. But that's exactly what Nancy Feliciano does in Sickened. And her fellow scream queen Debbie D chips in with another two minutes worth of total frontal and rear nudity. Are the actresses as young and stunning as the cast of a big Hollywood franchise film? No. They look like the average women working at your local supermarket. But they are stark naked. Take that, Hollywood and Sundance.

Don't misread what I've said and conclude that this is some kind of porn. It is not. It's classic exploitation cinema, made the way I remember it from the adult-only drive-ins in the late 60s and early 70s. Like those films, Sickened keeps one entertained between nude scenes with a fairly interesting plot. There's a psychological mystery which is not entirely obvious and there's a good bit of misdirection. A woman wrestles with the residual trauma from a kidnapping incident that happened decades ago. She escaped from her tormenter, but he has never been found, and she wonders if he is the same person who has been committing serial murders in her area since that time. She is obsessed with the thought that the murderer must be looking for her, since she seems to be the only victim who ever escaped. By means of multiple dreams-within-dreams and delusions-within-delusions, the author keeps us guessing about the explanation for the film's assorted surreal events, and the film ultimately comes up with a solution which satisfactorily explains the preceding confusion.

Is the film slick? No. Some scenes look like they could have come from a big film, but in general the film looks like it was shot with home video equipment, and the inherent nature of the exploitation beast is that the plot must grind too slowly because of the exploitation elements. A women jogging stark naked for several minutes scores high on titillation, but halts the film's forward momentum until the jog is over. There's a lot of that sort of padding. If the script for Sickened were purchased by a network drama, it could run in 30 minutes, like an old episode of The Twilight Zone. As an exploitation film, it takes the same sort of 30-minute script and pads it out to 60 minutes with the stuff you can't see on NBC.

Is that good? Depends on what you want, dude. If you want a story that keeps pumping forward relentlessly, or if you want non-stop witty banter, you can't also have several minutes of naked jogging and bathing. You have to make a choice. If you want the naked jogging, you ain't gonna see it in the latest adaptation of Jane Austen, and you ain't gonna see it in Iron Man 3. Sickened is your go-to option.

Could you make a better movie than this, and also throw in a bunch of jiggle from hotter women? Probably. But you couldn't do it for $12,000. There's the genius of the micro-budget filmmakers!

DVD info

You can order a copy of the film here. The same page also includes several screen grabs from this and many similar films. The order page is not safe for work. Many of the images include nudity.



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n/a IMDB summary (of 10)
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  • Nancy Feliciano does something like 12 minutes worth of nudity - nine separate nude scenes involving all body parts.
  • Debbie D supplies full frontal and rear nudity during and after a shower.
  • Phil Herman does full frontal and rear nudity.



Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


Meets the basic genre requirements, but just barely.