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Thanks to John Allison and his team of programmers, I have seen some unusual films over the past few years. But this year’s edition of the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival may have delivered the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s also the first Ethiopian film I’ve ever seen, Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highway.

The plot itself is odd enough. Somewhere in the near future, not our near future, but in the near future, the city of Tallinn is run by a computer called Psychobook. The computer is infected by a virus called The Soviet Union. The only way to counteract it is to insert two CIA agents, D.T. Gagano (Daniel Tadesse) and Palmer Eldritch (Agustín Mateo), by way of virtual reality.

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Inside the computer world, the characters move in a kind of jerky stop-motion and wear avataresque masks. Gagano is Richard Pryor, Eldritch is Robert Redford. Their nemesis is Stalin. Eldritch soon bails out, leaving his partner trapped in Psychobook and unresponsive in our world. This does not sit well with his BBW German kickboxer wife Malin (Gerda-Annette Allikas).

If you think that’s odd, I haven’t mentioned the agent’s holographic aide Jiminy (Aris Rozentals). A coke-addicted politician in what looks like a Batman costume stolen from Adam West. Or the human fly Jesus who may hold the key to getting Gagano on the road home.

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I’m sitting here trying to find a way to describe Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highway, and I’m coming up empty. I’ve reviewed some odd films lately. Lake Michigan Monster, Temptation and Bloodsucker’s Planet all come to mind. But this takes the cake.

It’s got the plot of an Italian James Bond rip off and the look of an acid trip. The computers are from the 80s, early 80s at that. There are reams of obvious and mismatched stock footage, and everyone seems to have been dubbed by voice actors on Quaaludes.

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This is director Miguel Llansó’s second feature. I haven’t seen his first, Crumbs, but apparently it’s very similar. One has to give him credit for being a truly unique filmmaker if nothing else. And if you have any adventurous spirit and/or a large stash of herb, you should make the attempt to watch Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highway. It may be the El Topo of this decade.

Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highway played this year’s Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival and will be playing other festivals. You can check its website and Facebook page for screenings.

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