Rondo and Bob (2020)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, The Howling, Re-Animator, From Beyond, Tourist TrapDon’t Go Near the Park. Beyond the villains and stars of these films, they’re memorable for the scenes they take place in, the look of menace within each. That’s all due to Robert A. Burns, the man who taxidermied an armadillo and built the bone furniture with the Sawyer home, that made Mr. Slausen’s home so frighteningly strange, that created the adult shop that Dee Wallace finds a werewolf in and even plays a customer that runs past her.

Beyond the films and art pieces that Burns created, he was obsessed with Rondo Hatton, a man who turned his acromegaly into three films for Universal before dying way too young. The disease caused Rondo’s face, hands and feet to grow monstrously larger than the rest of his body, which caused him to hide from the world until his second wife Mae gave him the support that he needed.

The image of The Creeper, Hatton’s horror film character, would become a symbol of Burns’ lifelong belief in his inner ugliness. It’s this idea that director and writer Joe O’Connell (Danger God) explores in this combination documentary and narrative film on two lives.

With appearances by Fred Olen Ray, Daniel Pearl, Edwin Neal, Joe Bob Briggs, Stuart Gordon, Dee Wallace and more, the film also steps away from being a straight documentary to dramatize the life of Hatton (Joseph Middleton) and Mae (Kelsey Pribilski). She later meets Burns (Ryan Williams), who we see meet Tobe Hooper, become friends with Gunnar Hansen and be on the front lines of the day Charles Whitman opened fire on the University of Texas.

This is a messy movie that doesn’t always perfectly work, but that’s actually to its benefit. It’s like drinking at a party and someone trying to explain just how amazing their friend was, why you would have loved them and all the wild, strange, dumb and sad things that their friend did. And now their friend is gone and you can only experience them through the art and tall tales that they left behind.

And yes, the Deep Throat pinball machine shows up.

Rondo and Bob is available on digital platforms from Electric Entertainment. You can learn more at the official site.

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