Better sustained is 2001's Frontier, based on an alleged surrealist novel (by "Mulnar Typeschtat"), in which military personnel from civil war-torn Bubovia (David with Wiley Wiggins) canoe to a remote island where they try to enslave the locals (Nathan) and fit in with the Sasquatch-y creature populace. The entire script is spoken in subtitled "Bubovian," delivered with surprising naturalism.
But the Zellners' best feature might still be their first. Plastic Utopia (1997) — dust off your old VCR if you want to see it — is an uneven but sometimes deliriously inspired alternative-universe purgatory as viewed by failed mime James (David), whose whining at unappreciative spectators has him in trouble with the Mime Union. His utter inability to succeed (a would-be romance with a novice nun being another obvious dead-end) contrasts with the rebel yell of housemate Frank (Nathan), who drinks, drugs, fucks, lies, steals, and even murders sans consequence. Subsidiary characters like Corduroy Boy, Golden White Boy (both highly memorable), Buster Tuffstuff, and Jogger Joe (Wiggins again) add to the surreal hilarity.
Someday the Zellners are going to hit (fairly) big. But for now it's obvious they enjoy hitting small, for their own amusement as well as any outsiders who've peeked into the tent. It's indulgently weekend-camping musky in there, but private-joke-funny, too.
FROM A TO ZELLNER
Sun/24, 9:45 p.m., $13
1881 Post, SF