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Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist Print E-mail
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Written by Jake Wells   
Saturday, 15 October 2011

"Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist" poster art on Severed Cinema
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Directed by: Kirby Dick
Produced by: Kirby Dick
Cinematography by: Jonathan Dayton, Kirby Dick, Sheree Rose
Editing by: Kirby Dick, Dody Dorn
Music by: Blake Leyh
Cast: Bob Flanagan, Sheree Rose
Year: 1997
Country: USA
Language: English
Color: Color
Runtime: 1 h 30 min

Distributor: Lions Gate Films

I'm a mega-chump for any documentary pertaining to eccentrics, especially if they relate to sexual perversion or sadism.  A few I hold dear include "Hated: GG Allin & the Murder Junkies," "Crumb," and "Graphic Sexual Horror."  However, as outrageously degenerate and sleazy as the people depicted in these docu-shock flicks are, the holy grail, as I see it, lies within the life and times of Mr. Robert Flanagan.

"Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist" is one of the most down-n-dirty documentaries on a single individual you will ever see.  Not only does it provide all the good "shocking" antics the guy ultimately obsessed over, it is truly some heart-wrenching shit, for the fact that a man is slowly dying of a terminal illness, right before your very eyes for 90 minutes.

The film begins with close-up jump cuts of Flanagan's face as he takes his masochistic abuse.  We see him drinking from a baby bottle (filled with, what I can only imagine is piss), cringing in pain, being spoon fed shit (?) with his nostrils pinched, getting a pie in the face, being choked, ball gagged, poured upon with unknown fluids, etc.  All these scenes showcased with zany, cartoonish music playing.  We then cut to him, shirtless, with oxygen tubes in his nose, reciting his pending obituary.  He explains that he is the longest known survivor or the genetic lung disease, Cystic Fibrosis.  The illness grants a short life expectancy which Flanagan clearly dodged well into his 40s.

"Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist" Screenshot on Severed Cinema

Next, we see the first example of Flanagan's style of performance art on stage in Los Angeles in 1994.  He is lying under a lamp and a camera is focused on his oxygen-fed face as he explains CF and his love for bodily mutilation.  Much of his stage acts obviously consisted of poems and humorous songs about his declining health, which he recites for an audience.  At this early point in the film, you get the idea that Flanagan has a real light-hearted approach to his rapidly worsening disease.

Later segments in the film show Bob's 1962 appearance on The Steve Allen Show where a ten year-old Flanagan ironically exclaims he in not interested in becoming an artist when he grows up.  Bob shows some of his display art, namely the "Visible Man" which is an anatomical mini representation of the human body that he rigged with tubes to make shit, jizz and phlegm spurt out of it.  If I had a mantel in my home, I would happily promulgate this spectacular art piece!  No joke.  Bob also shows footage of himself relaying his "amazing" sexual escapades at S&M meetings in the late 80s, short S&M films he made with his partner, Sheree, and his museum art exhibits.

Throughout the film, the focus shifts from Flanagan's sexual fetishes, his artistic way of expressing these fetishes, and his deteriorating health.  In almost every interview, Flanagan is seen coughing violently and hacking up mucus into a Dixie cup.  His attitude toward his ailment stays fairly incontrovertible and sprightly, aside from one home video captured by Sheree which shows a blubbering Bob fearing his eminent death.  As the film reaches its end, Bob drives to the hospital where he is consumed by an agonizing flair-up and struggles to breathe for an unknown amount of time before he dies...

"Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist" was directed by Kirby Dick, who not only has the funniest name in the world, but is also one seriously dedicated documentary filmmaker.  "Sick" was shot over a period of, possibly, four years.  As it seems, Dick and Flanagan vowed to push on with the film up until Bob's death.  THAT they did.  It's an extremely honest and non-exploitive flick that shows every single side of the guy, including all the kinked out shit he was into -- such as the infamous video of Bob nailing his goddamn cock to board, pulling out the nail and bleeding on the camera lens. Needless to say, Bob Flanagan RULED!

"Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist" Screenshot on Severed Cinema

 

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"Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist" Screenshot on Severed Cinema

"Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist" Screenshot on Severed Cinema

"Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist" Screenshot on Severed Cinema

"Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist" Screenshot on Severed Cinema

"Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist" Screenshot on Severed Cinema

"Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist" Screenshot on Severed Cinema

"Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist" Screenshot on Severed Cinema

"Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist" Screenshot on Severed Cinema

"Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist" Screenshot on Severed Cinema

"Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist" Screenshot on Severed Cinema

"Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist" Screenshot on Severed Cinema

"Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist" Screenshot on Severed Cinema

"Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist" Screenshot on Severed Cinema

"Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist" Screenshot on Severed Cinema

"Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist" Screenshot on Severed Cinema

 RATING:
 MOVIE: 1 
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