Director: Ryan Kruger. Story by: Ryan Kruger & James C Williamson. Starring: Gary Green, Chanelle de Jager, Brett Williams, Bianka Hartenstein & Hakeem Kae-Kazim.
Join me as I take look into the world of Fried Barry, a movie about a man with no eyebrows, the excesses of Cape Town, and alien urethra probes.
Welcome to Cape Town South Africa. A place (at least according to the movie) rich in drugs and debauchery. A place where life is like a homicidal midget, and often short and brutal. A place where the pleasure of oneself rules, as the inhabitants indulge in chasing various highs, fornicating, and murdering. Death and violence live here, hand in hand with all the pleasures of the flesh, and the chemically induced ones.
Now, I’ve never been to Cape Town, so I have no idea how accurate a picture is being painted here, but in a way, the look of the city reminded me a little bit of the start of the movie Basket Case. That movie has a very iconic stroll through the city, in an era that has now long gone. An era when porno theatres, prostitutes, pimps and addicts of all kinds roamed the streets. That’s not to say those things aren’t still prevalent if you know where to look for them, but at the same time, the ones shown were similar to artefacts of a bygone age. We’re different now, we can use technology to slake our needs and desires, or at least to summon them to our door. But not in the Cape town displayed on screen in Fried Barry. It’s definitely a place where its vices are analogue, rather than digital.
It harkens back to an era that we’ve mostly left behind and is shown at the very start of the movie when it opens with some chap giving us a little discussion about the certification of the movie. Does anyone remember them? You’d often find them when you rented a video, and before the film began, you would get someone who clearly knows better than you, warning you about the content of the movie. You would hit the fast-forward button, probably muttering ‘shut the fuck up,’ under your breath, as you eagerly got to the start of the feature. Back then, those little public safety chats were annoying, but here, it was not only a nostalgic look at something I had forgotten, but it also set the tone by propelling me back a few decades.
As the movie opens, we are introduced to Barry, a heroin addict who looks, well, ‘distinctive’ would be the nicest way to put it. If I were being a little more descriptive, I would say that his crown of long, straggly hair that surrounds his receding hairline, combined with his vacated eyebrows and scruffy chin-beard, gives him the appearance of a Klingon that has fallen onto very hard times. It not all a life of drug addiction for Barry though, as he has a wife and child waiting at home for him. A wife and child that he neglects and walks away from to hit the pub, have a beer and then go to a friends house and enjoy more heroin. Actually, it is all about the drugs for Barry.
During this latest high, something rather unusual happens to Barry, and he is abducted by an alien life-form. After going through the customary abduction weirdness that includes light-beams, mysterious glimpses of the alien itself, and a rather uncomfortable probe down his pee-hole, Barry is returned to the streets, safe and sound. Only it’s not Barry anymore, as the alien consciousness has hitch-hiked a ride in Barry’s rather abused body, and goes for a stroll through Cape Town.
It’s whilst riding Barry around like a meat bicycle, that the alien visitor experiences many of the various wonders that are on offer. Drugs, sex, violence and even love are all there for it to live vicariously through Barry.
Now, you may have just read that list and thought, ‘Love? Really?’ And strangely, yes, it’s there too. In fact for how strange and often-times downright weird the movie gets, it somehow manages to be funny and moving too. One minute I was sitting there thoroughly enjoying the movie, if admittedly occasionally wondering what the fuck was going on, and the next thing I knew, I was laughing as Barry whooped his way through his sexual encounters. Then I was suddenly given a little emotional punch, as Barry returned home and began to bond with his son.
For all of its oddness, a lot is going on with this movie.
Sure, that strangeness may put many people off, and it’s yet another flick that if someone told me they found it too fucking weird, and that they didn’t like it, I would fully understand. It’s not a film for everyone. It is however a film that I really enjoyed. It’s as captivating as it is strange. In fact, I don’t know if was planted in my brain because Barry calls his son Bubby, but Fried Barry reminded me of the movie Bad Boy Bubby. Both have that same compelling weirdness, that drew me in. Admittedly, it’s been a few years since I last watched Bad Boy Bubby, so I could be getting things mixed up in my brain, but I felt a few similarities here and there, even down to the film. Both films are bizarrely unique, but not in such a way as to lose the viewer.
That was one of the strengths of Fried Barry. Yes, it fucking odd, but never in such a way as to be confusing, or messy. Sure, there were a few things that left me wondering what the significance of them was, such as the mysterious peek-a-boo playing street preacher, but I don’t care. It’s a mystery that I can theorise about, or at least try to unravel on a repeat viewing.
Talking about the strengths of the movie, the acting is amazing too. Gary Green is mesmerising to watch. As a stunt man/coordinator he obviously knows something about bringing a physical presence to the screen, and he delivers it here in spades. His stilted movements when he walks, his excessive facial ticks and all the other nuances that go into making Barry into nothing more than a meat-uber for an alien life-form, are utterly compelling.
All this great stuff, and I haven’t even mentioned the awesome soundtrack by Haezer, that fits the film perfectly. And yes, it’s another one that I’m listening to as I write my review.
If you want to give something unusual a watch, then Fried Barry is the way to go. It’s difficult to categorise, in fact, I wouldn’t call it a horror film per se, even though it does contain horror elements within the story. On the other hand, it’s not a film for everyone and I can see many people being put off by the minimal dialogue, and quite possibly opting out at the sight of Barry’s proudly pulsating penis probe penetration. Similarly, not everyone is going to see the point of the intermission, or they may even pick fault at the retro fake driving scene, complete with what appeared to be a projected background a driver who (I hope in an intentionally ironic way) did that off-putting fake driving turning of the steering wheel thing almost constantly. Even if those things sound odd, and the things I’ve mentioned in the review make you think that the movie might not be for you, I still think you should at least give it a shot.
If I had to pick out something that I wasn’t happy with, it was the ending, just because I wanted five more minutes to see if Barry had changed in any way. If he’d leaned from his experience, or would simply return to his addict lifestyle. Also, the movie is pretty much a fucked up adult version of E.T. Just swap the M&M’s for drugs, and Eliot befriending the long-necked intergalactic weirdo for Barry becoming possessed by the alien instead. Frog releasing and kissing Erika Eleniak being replaced by freeing kidnapped children and banging a prostitute in a way that almost went full Xtro, but managed to hold off just enough. He even had healing powers and went all white and crusty toward the end.
Fried Barry may not have a lot of story, or at least a story that makes any real cohesive sense and the dialogue is mostly replaced by Barry’s contorted facial expressions (he’s not a talker, but he is a good listener) but it is visually arresting and for some people, myself included, it will be a movie that will strike a chord with how different it is.
At the time of review, Fried Barry is available to stream on Shudder.