Comments Off on Bayou

When I was a kid my father worked at the video store Movies Unlimited. My dad used to cut a bunch of scenes together from different movies, sometimes looping them, and set them to music he liked. I remember he cut Forbidden Games (1952) to Holly Cole’s cover of Tom Wait’s “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up”. He filled a number of VHS with these mixed tapes. But the one clip that has lived in my mind the most vividly is Timothy Carey’s dance in Bayou (1957).

I was four years old when I first saw Timothy Carey’s iconic dance. My dad set this dance to a number of different songs from Bohannon to Depeche Mode. I can’t remember what specific songs he set the dance to, but I think of Carey’s dance almost every day. And as I grew up and saw Timothy Carey in other films, particularly the films of John Cassavetes, I would always think of Carey’s unhinged undulations.

Aside from Timothy Carey’s wild, leering performance in Bayou there isn’t really much to recommend the film. The way Carey lumbers around, grins like a crocodile, and reverberates with demented lust is far more memorable and interesting than the buxom Marie (Lita Milan) or square jawed Martin (Peter Graves). Carey sticks in the mind because of the daring of his performance and the way that performance encapsulates the sleazy agenda of the exploitation film that can hardly contain him.

Bayou isn’t a film I sought out to love. Bayou is a film that, through my father, found me at an impressionable age and became an indispensable cinematic text. I can’t remember having not seen Carey’s dance nor can I imagine what my sense of humor would be like without seeing Carey boogie to Bohannon. That’s what a life spent watching movies does. It enables some films, the right films, to find you.