Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea (USA; 73 min.)

directed by: Chris Metzler; Jeff Springer
Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea

Michael says: "Sometimes documentary filmmakers will stumble across a subject that’s just so flat out weird, or fascinating that half the battle of making an interesting film is won right there. Filmmakers Chris Metzler and Jeff Springer have done just that for their film debut PLAGuES & PLEASURES ON THE SALTON SEA. For the east coasters in Chlotrudis (and that’s most of us) The Salton Sea is a manmade sea in the middle of the desert in Southern California. It briefly became a thriving tourist resort (called the Riviera of the U.S.) during the 60’s before a string of ecological and economic disasters have left the town a bizarre ghost town populated by unusual characters that could have stepped out of a David Lynch or John Waters film. So how appropriate is it that John Waters provides the narration for this film?

"As I said, selecting a subject as fascinating and cinematic as The Salton Sea is half the battle to making a good film, but there are still plenty of ways a filmmaker could stumble. A major temptation would be to try to make the movie as quirky and weird as the subject. Fortunately Metzler and Springer keep it fairly straightforward and let the facts speak for themselves with the afore-mentioned narration, a bunch of interviews with the bizarre residents, lots of archival footage, and some terrific camera work of the Salton Sea today. The film covers a lot of ground, mainly because there are a lot of film-worthy occurrences that make-up the Salton Sea’s past and present. From massive fishkills to pelicans with botulism; geriatric nudists to Sonny Bono; flooded coastal towns to religious monuments, the filmmakers allow the facts and the residents tell the tale, neither making fun of nor glorifying the situations, albeit with good-natured humor and I would guess a bit of affection for their chosen subject. 4 cats"