Sick: The Life & Death of...

This doesn't qualify as a horror film, but it appeals to fans of fringe filmmaking. I'm assuming that the majority of people who frequent Random Reviews enjoy learning about bizarre, extreme works of art. Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist is usually mentioned when the topic of shocking cinema is put forward. It certainly lives up to its reputation. Schramm isn't the only film where a man hammers a nail through his penis. No, sir! This is more than a spate of disquieting scenes, though. Sick is an amazing documentary that brought tears to my eyes.

Have I caught your interest? I hope so. If you've never heard of Bob Flanagan, he was a notorious bondage enthusiast afflicted with cystic fibrosis (herein referred to as CF), a progressive genetic disorder that affects the respiratory system. Most patients with CF have a shortened life expectancy. It's rare for an individual struggling with this disease to survive into adulthood. Rare, but not impossible. Bob Flanagan passed away at the age of 43. To what did he attribute his health? Self-mutilation, body modification and a deviant sex life. His girlfriend and confidante, Sharee Rose, routinely whipped, scarred, sodomized, strangled and branded his ailing body.

This was Bob's way of controlling his "temple," acting out against nature, fighting sickness with sickness. Director Kirby Dick presents a brutally honest look into the life of a man who taunted death and inspired thousands in the process. Throughout the film's deceptively skimpy 90-minute running time, we see every side of Bob's personality. We are there when he is charming. We are there when he is desperate. We are there when he is aroused. We are there when he coughs. We are there when he laughs. We are there when he brightens the day of a teenaged girl with CF, a meeting that was arranged by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. We are there when he breaks down on his deathbed, and we are even there moments before he dies.

Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist is a compelling comment on mortality. It will move you just as much as it entertains you. It may be graphic (I had to avert my eyes when the time came for genital torture), but I wasn't taken aback by the X-rated content. I was taken aback by the depth of Bob's story. This film is emotionally devastating. I dare you to watch the ending without crying. Truth be told, I don't know if I can ever watch this documentary again, but I recommend the fuck out of it. Make way, ladies and gentleman...I'm dusting off the ol' perfect rating!

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