Column #276 Bulls Eye – The Movie
November 6, 2006
Bulls Eye – The Movie
“Last year, more people were killed by auto accidents, heat stroke, lung cancer and natural causes combined than by any one tomato.”
— Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, 1978
No, this column is not about the cult classic Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, possibly the worst flick ever made. It’s just that produced as it was on a shoestring budget with a cast of amateurs spouting non-sequiters throughout a half-baked plot, it came to mind as I as screened Squawking Parrot Productions’ movie Bulls Eye. But don’t get me wrong – I mean this as a compliment.
I love stupid movies. I’ve watched Attack of the Killer Tomatoes dozens of times and Reefer Madness too (although I can’t remember much of it). I assure you that if either were airing late tonight I wouldn’t hesitate to reserve a six-pack, a pizza and a spot the couch to let my mind turn to mush one more time.
And I’m not the only one. Movies like these were ahead of their time. As one reviewer of Tomatoes offered, the nut cases who created it “threw everything they had into the mix to get a laugh. Yes, the concept may be stupid, but the cast and crew’s sense of humor infuse this film with a sincerity and infectious style that you can’t help but admire.”
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is beyond stupid. A bunch of tomatoes, fed up with their status as vegetables, declare war on mankind and go on a killing spree. But the movie worked. There have been four sequels, all kinds of merchandise and a Saturday morning cartoon. I doubt there are a dozen people my age in America (I just turned thirty-six) who don’t know the theme song. Attaaaack of the Killer Tomaaaatoes!!!
Yes, this screwy movie made a bundle. And so might Bull’s Eye. Subtitled Kingpin and Dodgeball Collide on a Dartboard and directed by Scott Cummins of Waterford, Michigan and, much like Tomatoes and Reefer, Bulls Eye was shot over eleven days on a meager budget – less then $8,000. If stupid flick history is any indication Cummins and his similarly amateur cast and crew just may have scored a hit.
Here’s the plot in the words of the movie’s marketers. “After losing his father in a freak accident, dart throwing phenomenon Billy ‘Bullseye’ Jefferson vows never to compete again. Then, twenty years later, his wife leaves him, his brother needs him and his dream of owning his very own bar is fading before his eyes. The only way Bullseye can turn things around is to compete in the famous Triple D’s Annual Cricket Open and see if he still has what it takes to be a champion.”
Here are a few more details, but just a few and carefully stated so as not to give away too much of the story. Billy was more than just a darts phenomenon; he was, kind of like Dave DePriest, a prodigy at the tender age of seven at which time, unlike DePriest, even today, he lodged three perfect games of cricket. Billy retires from the game because he feels responsible for the bizarre “darts related” accident that resulted in the death of his father. In the ensuing twenty years his wife takes off and his brother loses his Corvette in a game of darts for money with a rich kid.
Then one day a local bar announces a $20,000 winner-take-all doubles cricket tournament. Billy’s brother latches onto the opportunity to recover from his gambling loss but he needs the reticent Billy to partner with him, and train him, to have a chance at winning the dough. He convinces Billy to come out of retirement.
The problem is that others also smell the gold including the rich kid and a friend, some bikers, cripples, a bunch of nutters who parade around as Tom Selleck and Burt Reynolds look-a-likes and two of the top ten players in the world. A bit like in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, after a fair amount of hijinks and a whole lot of politically incorrect and sometimes downright gross humor, everybody eventually converges in a small bar to battle for the money and glory (and a trip for four to Las Vegas).
As in Tomatoes the characters are memorable, to say the least. Tomatoes had Gretta the female swimming champion with the body of a football nose guard (and who was killed by tomatoes) and disguise expert Sam Smith who is black, dresses like Hitler and belts out random German phrases (and is eaten by tomatoes). Bull’s Eye has the Sellecks and Reynolds (including Black Bert) all fitted with crooked moustaches that are too big for their faces and a crew a spastics, including a blind dude who’s probably the best natural shooter in the cast, that don’t take crap from nobody, especially the rich kids.
The rest I can’t tell you, except that from a real darts perspective Bull’s Eye is flawed.
First, the darts played is electronic which – even if the flick were a multi-million Hollywood production featuring Richard Gere and Juila Roberts and a whole lot of steamy sex – undercuts its credibility among fans of the pure game.
Second, not a single member of the cast, except maybe the blind guy, has a clue how to throw a dart. They lunge. They short arm. They struggle to land their darts inside the triple ring. Even the two actors playing the professionals (Dax and Michael) struggle with simple strategy. In one match after their opponent steps up and closes the twenty, nineteen and eighteen with three strokes, Dax walks to the line and, instead of moving in to close the seventeen and pound points, he follows his opponent by closing the twenty and then throwing at the nineteen.
There are lots of other flaws but none of them really matter. The movie is fun and it would probably have had me rolling on the floor at points had I prepared to watch it the same way I did the first time I saw Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and Reefer Madness.
The movie is supposed to be fun. Reality isn’t the point anymore that rampaging mutant vegetables are realistic. Tomatoes is a parody of the great monster movies of the 1950s. Bulls Eye is just about having a laugh.
“That was our goal,” Cummins told me in an e-mail exchange. “I hope you found something in the movie to make you laugh.”
Bulls Eye wasn’t made by serious darters and its creators recognize there are errors. “Most of the year, we run another business and we have an electronic dartboard in our office,” said Cummins. “Whenever we hit slow times, we will throw game after game and keep records. It’s sort of like we have our own little five-man league here. Not a single one of us have ever entered an official tournament, not that we’re that bad either!”
Apparently the movie is selling well. Cumming credits honesty and, again if the review of Tomatoes was correct (“…it may be stupid, but the cast and crew’s sense of humor infuse this film with a sincerity and infectious style that you can’t help but admire.”), he may be on to something. “One of the reasons I believe it is being received so well is because of the honesty with which we are selling it – we are not claiming that this is a “Spielberg” quality movie, so nobody expects that when they order and watch it.”
I asked him he planned a sequel and he was adamant that there would not be a Bulls Eye II, mainly because it would be impossible to get the entire cast together again. Many of them have scattered about the country, and some bad, bad things have happened. Black Bert was arrested for throwing a brick through some old lady’s window. One of the rich kids was thrown in jail for trying to score crack from whore in Detroit. The blind guy has started a music career.
On the positive side, one of the cripples was signed by a major Hollywood motion picture studio to play the lead in the upcoming blockbuster, the Steven Hawkins Story.
In truth, Cummins and Squawking Parrot Productions have moved on to other projects. They are currently in preproduction of two new films, one another comedy and the other a thriller, as well as a staged comedy for live theatre called Pick-up Lines – the Musical. The have also been approached by two different production companies to assist with a slasher flick and a drama.
So who knows, this silly little darts movie Bulls Eye, a first go for Cummins and his company, may be the start of something big. Whatever happens, the flick is worth the $21 price and can be purchased at their website: http://www.squawkingparrotproductions.com.
You’re guaranteed to laugh a least once and often if you smoke some reefer first.
From the field,
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