Kansas Bowling’s B.C. Butcher Is a Slashing Good Time

Some of the most famous directors didn’t helm a major project until after film school, but Kansas Bowling didn’t even wait for college. At 17, she directed her first feature film, B.C. Butcher. Her exuberant work owes much of its aesthetic and style to the B-movies of yesteryear, taking inspiration from 1960s Herschell Gordon Lewis films, Russ Meyer, Roger Corman, Frankie and Annette’s beach-party comedies, girl-gang flicks, even the Ramones vehicle Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.

Entranced by the campy cinema of decades past, it’s a no-brainer Bowling would pursue filmmaking. “It’s kind of [like] the appeal with the Ramones,” she says, “where these people who don’t really know how to play instruments form a band, and then everyone’s like, ‘I can do that,’ and that started punk. It’s almost like that with cinema—it’s ‘punk cinema’—where these people have no money, barely a script, and they go out and make a movie, and people love it, and I’m like, ‘I can do that.'”

According to Bowling, she and friend Kenzie Givens came up with the concept and script for B.C. Butcher when Bowling was 15. The slasher horror/comedy revolves around a pack of prehistoric cavewomen in the year 1 Million B.C., yet there’s rock bands, valley-girl accents and trippy, psychedelic dream sequences. Tribe member Dina is held for trial by leader Neandra for committing the gravest of girl-code violations: stealing her caveman. On Neandra’s orders, the other cavewomen brutally kill, mutilate and leave Dina to rot; later, titular neanderthal beast B.C. Butcher comes across her dismembered corpse, falls in love at first sight, and sets out to avenge her by striking down her executioners one by one in typical crazed-slasher fashion.

Expect all the self-aware, so-good-it’s-bad movie trademarks: the scant budget, raised by Bowling through crowdfunding and waiting tables; exaggerated, over-the-top acting and hilarious deliveries of catty bon mots (“You filthy fossil-licker!” was especially golden); filmed in inexpensive locales (her father’s spacious back yard in Topanga Canyon); and, of course, plenty of fake blood and gore.

Bowling shot the entire feature on 16 mm film, in keeping with the tradition of her celluloid heroes. The cast includes 1990s actor and O.J. Simpson trial witness Kato Kaelin as philandering lover Rex; television actor/director Kadeem Hardison as the narrator; legendary Los Angeles punk-rock DJ Rodney Bingenheimer, who appears as himself to introduce the Ugly Kids for a musical interlude. No sass was given to Bowling from the seasoned actors at all, the director says. “Everything [about the production] was fun. And everyone was really nice and really professional. Even though I was a kid making a movie, they all took me seriously.”

Bowling reached out to Troma Entertainment co-founder Lloyd Kaufman to release her film. Known for schlocky cult classics such as The Toxic Avenger, Class of Nuke’em High, Redneck Zombies and Surf Nazis Must Die, Troma lists Bowling as its youngest director. She was also the first inductee of the company’s new Troma Institute for Gifted Youth, which aims to foster young independent filmmakers.

Now 19, Bowling is enjoying the attention for B.C. Butcher and working on other projects. She reached out to Scot Gordon, who helps to run the monthly Long Beach screening series Shitty Movie Night, which, since 2015, has shown B- to Z-grade movies to live audiences at Que Sera. Gordon, an encyclopedia of bad cinema himself, includes notorious stinkers as well as local films, animation, student-made fare and homemade projects—really, anything made under the banner of DIY that encompasses a real passion for moviemaking. Gordon arranged a special screening party for Bowling’s Troma-certified feature at rock bar/pizza parlor DiPiazza’s in Long Beach.

In addition to the film, the night promises a Q&A with the cast and crew, including Bowling herself; drink and pizza specials; live music from Sit Kitty Sit, Brenda Casrey & the Awe, and Mr. Crumb; and local film trailers (typical at many Shitty Movie Nights).

So for you cinematic dreamers hoping to get your own project off the ground, maybe take a lesson from this spunky young director—or, better yet, come out and glean some moxie from Bowling in person. B.C. Butcher will be played through limited release before screening exclusively via Troma’s online video-on-demand streaming service, TromaNow.

B.C. Butcher screens at DiPiazza’s Restaurant, 5025 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach; www.facebook.com/smnlongbeach. Thurs., March 10. Music, 7 p.m. $5; screening, 9:30 p.m. Free. 18+.

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