In 1978 The Cramps decided to make a short promotional film using their song Human Fly as the back drop. Other than that I really don't know the history of the film at all. The first I heard about it was when the Ian Johnston book about The Cramps that came out in the early 90’s.
The book said that the film was so rare, that The Cramps themselves did not have a copy.
It’s pretty much considered the rarest bit of Cramps ephemera. Many don't even know about it all. It is any serious Cramps fan’s Holy Grail as it were. The Cramps footage that no one seems to have seen.
Since reading about it in the Johnston book, I've always had an eye out for any mention anywhere about the film. Back in the early 90’s, which was pre-Internet for me, the odds of hearing about the film or running across it were pretty slim.
As the Internet began to play a larger roll in my (and everyone else’s) life, I thought surely a mention of the film would pop up at some point. But still there was nothing about it anywhere. When Youtube hit the scene, I figured it would show up over there. Something so rare had to be in the possession of somebody that would upload its grainy b/w goodness so that people could finally see the film that Cramps fans had been talking about for years.
Still there was nothing.
Over a decade after starting the Lux and Ivy’s Favorites series something extraordinary happened. The film turned up!
Here’s how it went down. A friend of mine from Boston had been telling me about a friend of his who was a HUGE Cramps fan. He said that we totally had to meet because we would hit it off immediately, because of our love for The Cramps.
Years went by where this friend of his and I would never meet. During that time he found out about the LAIF series and enjoyed them so much that he emailed me asking if there was anything I was looking for Cramps related. Like a jerk, I pretty much said I had everything readily available (all the releases, tons of bootlegs, etc). He admitted that he was kind of out of the loop regarding any of the newer live recordings that had popped up over the years, but he felt that he needed to thank me for my efforts with the LAIF series. I was humbled that he thought so much of the series that he felt the need to repay me.
The last sentence in his email went something like this; …”Well, I also have this video of The Cramps turning into monsters in some basement….”
This of course elicited a sound from me akin to 96 eyes popping out of 96 eye sockets!
This HAD to be the Human Fly film! That tiny description was like nothing I had ever read about before. Legend had it that it was a film of Lux “turning into a fly” but I think that was an assumption by someone that had not seen the film.
Here’s a short version about how it came into his possession. When he was in high school he made a short film with this other guy. Years later they wanted to have the super 8 film transferred to VHS so they could watch it again without the need of a projector. Somewhere along the line his friend had come into possession of the Human Fly film. All they knew at the time was that it was somehow Cramps related. Since they were both Cramps fans, it ended up on the pile of items to be transferred to VHS.
Details are a little sketchy at this point, apparently his friend knew Alex de Laszlo, the Human Fly director, and de Laszlo had lent the film to this guy. The film itself eventually made its way back to de Laszlo.
So they ended up watching the film, but at the time since there was no outlet to really show this to the world, it ended up kind of being forgotten. Basically, the tape ended up in his attic and forgotten. He had absolutely no idea that the video in his attic was on every crazed Cramps fan’s Halloween wish list.
Flash forward to about a year ago:
In what seemed like a few hours, I was watching something I have no idea how many people have actually seen. I must have watched it a few dozen times, first on my computer monitor and later on my television. The film has more ideas per frame than the average modern horror flick has in its entire running time.
Soon, various friends were swinging by to feast their unbelieving eyes on the film. Everyone that saw it was speechless. Everyone said the same thing: “WHEN ARE YOU PUTTING THIS UP ON YOUTUBE!?!”
Well, sorry to say, I’m not. This isn’t me saying; “Hey, look at me! Look what I have and YOU don’t!” This is me, or more to the point, US saying some things are meant to be seen at the right place and the right time. If Ivy wants this released, she’ll release it. There’s no way we want to get in the way of an eventual release by doing something as callous as uploading it to Youtube, right next to talking babies, football’s to the groin, and various other time killers; This was too special.
But what I will do is write a review of the film, as well as post some screen shots so you can see that the film actually exists in some form.
For those keeping score, the film is no longer lost, according to an interview I read somewhere Lux and Ivy found the film in their attic (an appropriate place) and at some point intend on releasing it (this was of a few years ago). As of this writing there is no news (that I know of) about any official Cramps release on DVD.
End of Part One