Swirlee (found live-action short film; 1990)
Makeup artist Kelly Gleason applying the Softee makeup to Lorinz.
Date found: 07 Jun 2016
Found by: artdamaged
Swirlee is a 15-minute short film directed by and starring James Lorinz (famous for his roles in exploitation films such as Street Trash and Frankenhooker).
Swirlee tells the story of Mr. Softee, a mutant hybrid with an ice cream cone for a head. He was a victim of the anti-miscarriage drug "Nodroppinum," which changed the pregnant mother's child into whatever food she craved at the time (a parody of the Thalidomide scandal from the 1960s). Softee was the head of an ice cream company until he was forced out of business by the artificial ice cream mafia, led by Don Tofutti.
Softee lives with his friend Tony, who supports both of them. However, in order for Softee to be kept alive and well, they are forced to leave the air-con at all times, which becomes costly, and Tony has trouble affording it. Despite this, Softee still has his ice cream fall in drops from time to time. Softee is forced to stay inside to prevent himself from melting; frustrated and lonely, he takes in the services of a call girl with whom he just wants a romantic dance. However, she is freaked out by his nature and leaves. Tony is angry at Softee for this because they already have trouble making ends meet. Softee suggests finding a job at Don Tofutti, but he is rebuffed by Tony, who insists it's a bad idea.
Softee goes to meet Don Tofutti, who is playing cards with associates Don Gelato from Italy and Don Sorbet from France (both have names relating to ice creams of their respective countries). Tofutti mocks Softee, who points out that, despite him being made of genuine natural ice cream, he doesn't fit in the modern ice cream business anymore. He forces Softee out, who insults Tofutti, saying his products are unnatural and made from soy. Tofutti, angry, has his men beat up Softee.
Softee, injured, barely makes his way home. Street children even gather around him to eat the ice cream from his head. A broken man, Softee, tries to commit suicide by taking a warm bath. Tony, however, decides to snap him out of his misery by shooting a fire extinguisher in his face. Softee and Tony return at Tofutti's place with guns and engage in a shoot-out so that they take back the ice cream business. It is implied they succeed.
Lorinz first thought of the idea in film school. In 1989, after securing funds from a television appearance, he filmed a 15-minute test film to attract potential investors for a feature-length version. The film was written by Rocco Simonelli, produced by Roy Frumkes, and co-starred Street Trash's Tony Darrow as Don Tofutti and a then-unknown David Caruso as Softee's roommate.
Despite the intention to present it as a gritty Mean Streets style drama, studios would only accept the film if it was retooled as a lighthearted comedy for children. Eventually, the project was abandoned.
The exact date that can be applied to the movie is uncertain. However, the inclusion of MC Hammer's song "U Can't Touch This" means that the earliest the film could have been produced was in 1990. Oddly, IMDb lists the film as being published in 2000.
On June 7th, 2016, a VHS copy of the full short film was found and uploaded to YouTube by YouTuber "artdamaged." It's unknown how artdamaged obtained the film apart from the fact that his tape was "a copy of a copy." However, when the VHS was converted to a digital file, the video's aspect ratio ended up being vertically stretched, and when it was uploaded to YouTube, YouTube very poorly squished the video's aspect ratio to 4:3, resulting in the video's quality being extremely compressed. Luckily, Lost Media Wiki user Notelu was able to properly restore the film to its original aspect ratio (as well as clean up the film in general) and is now in much better-viewing quality.
- IMDb page on Swirlee. Retrieved 07 Dec '16
- The film's script. Retrieved 16 May '13