SUMMARY: An extreme version of ‘Candid Camera’ in which the victims more often than not end up mutilated in some way.
WHY IT’S HERE: Bill Plmypton’s ‘Surprise Cinema’ sees Plympton find yet another way to get laughs out of a series of gorily violent events. In this case, he inserts the various mutilations into a ‘Candid Camera’ style prank show, in which toilets are replaced with crocodiles, razors are replaced with chainsaws and (in a particularly funny moment) hand-dryers are replaced with jet engines. The prank show format allows Plympton to once again work in the black-out gags format and while it works well again, there is a slight sense of tiredness as well. ‘Surprise Cinema’ is very funny but feels like ground well-trodden as well. It is here as testament to Plympton’s resourcefulness in being able to make similar concepts work again and again but also because it marks the moment when his sex and violence obsessed shorts of the mid-to-late 90s began to run out of steam. Fortunately, Plympton was canny enough to realise this and his 21st century shorts began to move away from this in favour of more interesting areas while also maintaining the Plymptonian sense of humour that makes his work so well-loved.