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WEIRDO FLICKS: 'Alone in the T-Shirt Zone'

by Eli Kroes

You might not be familiar with the term 'Z-Movie,' but if you grew up in the 90's, chances are you've seen one. They're the beyond-low-budget monstrosities that teased you from the walls of the mom-and-pop video store. Usually, the films themselves could never live up to the pictures on the videotape boxes (because this was way before your fancy 'Digital Video Discs' and 'Blu-Rays') but occasionally you'd find something truly unique. 'WEIRDO FLICKS' will clue you into some movies which 'unique' doesn't even begin to describe...

'Alone in the T-Shirt Zone' - 1986, Directed by Mike B. Anderson

One-man films are strange beasts...characters don't always act like 'real people,' things happen for no reason, and plots can be meandering or even non-existent. Such is definitely the case with Mike Anderson's movie. There's a definite 'I hate my job' vibe, as protagonist Michael Mikaele (could it be...autobiographical maybe?) mopes about the t-shirt printing company he works as an artist for. He really doesn't like his boss, and he can't seem to finish the two (maybe three) designs said boss wants without a lot of complaining. Also, as if things can't be any worse, every single female character wants him...badly. In fact, most of them willingly attack him in public places in a fashion that's borderline rape. Tough luck, Mike. 

Anyhow, we watch Mike stumble through his reality, attend a party with a man twice his age (who turns out to be his girlfriend's father in an unusual and pointless twist) and then go crazy from all the pressures in his life. Things don't get any easier, however, as he's also 'raped' by his therapist. The whole atmosphere of this film is dreamlike...things happen, they don't matter, plot twists go nowhere, character react in the wrong way, etc. There are also a few allusions to David Lynch's surrealist masterpiece 'Eraserhead' throughout, which should give you some idea of what to expect.

Despite all the weirdness, Mr. Anderson  is obviously a very talented guy. This isn't a 'bad' movie like 'Plan 9 From Outer Space,' it's just a slice of American backyard surrealism. Anderson did a couple other films, including 'Kamillions,' which plays like a hybrid of 'Weird Science' and David Cronenberg. On top of that, he's also been a supervising director and storyboard consultant for The Simpsons since the very beginning!

As it stands, the only way to buy the film is as a used VHS tape  for around 20 bucks. However, if you're internet savvy, you can dig it up on a few streaming sites...

3 out of 5 if we're talking ratings. 


VHS photo by Toby Hudson.