This is a documentary about an unfinished movie. Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention try to film the sci-fi epic "Uncle Meat."





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Using takes and rehearsals discarded from the original edit plus interviews made during the shooting... See full synopsis »

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Credited cast:
Phyllis Smith Altenhaus ...
Herself / Sheba Flieschman (as Phyllis Altenhaus)
Dick Barber ...
Massimo Bassoli ...
Adult Minnesota Tishman
Ray Collins ...
Himself / Bill Yurds
Aynsley Dunbar ...
Himself / Biff Junior
Roy Estrada ...
Francesca Fisher ...
The Countess
Bunk Gardner ...
Buzz Gardner ...
Lowell George ...
Dick Kunc ...
Manfred Lerch ...
C. Mercedes Lewis ...
Girl Who Was A Sofa


Uncle Meat, who sometimes goes under the guises of Don Preston and Biff Debris, is an eccentric character who believs in musical progress and enjoys drinking fuming beakers and transforming into a monster. After seeing footage of him (as Don) transforming in this way while fighting for musical progress, film editor Phyllis Altenhaus meets him in person and falls in love. Later the two meet again at a pool hall under the guises of Biff Debris and Sheba Flieshman and they share a kinky shower scene together where they indulge each other's fetishes of clothes and hamburgers and declare their mutual love. Meanwhile, Uncle Meat and his band are secretly working on a hit single (made up of household items carefully arranged on a cloth) which they hope will change the world for the better by improving everyone's karma. However, no matter what he does, he can't seem to compose a hit and eventually, after he and Sheba have been married for over twelve years, his obsession with composing a ... Written by John Searcy <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Beyond Time.. Beyond Space... Beyond Reason...





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Referenced in Masked and Anonymous (2003) See more »


Mother People
Written by Frank Zappa
Performed by The Mothers of Invention
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User Reviews

I'm using the chicken to measure it...
26 June 2005 | by (Lexington, KY) – See all my reviews

There is a method to Zappa's madness. One thing a lot of people haven't picked up on in reviewing this film is that there are two soundtracks playing simultaneously throughout. Sometimes it's a delay of roughly ten seconds. Other times it's a whole other soundtrack entirely. To really enjoy the film, one must ignore the soundtrack that corresponds with the images. Of course, that's like telling you not to think of a pink elephant. I watched this with headphones on. Like listening to any great album, headphones are the way to go with UNCLE MEAT - be it the album or the movie.

One thing people have pointed out is that Frank reportedly wasn't on drugs when he directed this. However, it's apparent from watching it (and other Zappa films) that many of those who worked with Frank were. He merely turned his cameras on them. Andy Warhol did the same thing with his group. So was Frank exploiting them? Was Andy? Maybe the reason there was a rivalry between the two camps has to do with how similar these two artists were in there approach to film-making. By contrast, Warhol was far more minimalist in his approach while Zappa was all about sensory overload. So there are times while watching a Zappa film one wishes he was a tad more minimalist and where Andy was concerned, the opposite is true.

One must also realize there's not only two soundtracks playing here, but two films as well. One is the documentary about the film and the other is the film itself. So there is more than merely a nod to the Maysles' GIMME SHELTER in UNCLE MEAT with all the cuts to the editing room.

I reiterate, if only Zappa had paid more attention to Warhol's films and learned to bring things to a minimum at times, this film might be more accessible. But then that's like suggesting if only Stan Brakhage had used sound more often or Jean-Luc Goddard fewer jump cuts. To each filmmaker his own, in other words. If you are a fan of Zappa's, don't miss this one. It makes a fine prequel to 200 MOTELS even though it was completed later.

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