Search - Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist on DVD

Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist
Sick The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan Supermasochist
Actors: Bob Flanagan, Sheree Rose, Kathe Burkhart, Kirby Dick, Rita Valencia
Director: Kirby Dick
Genres: Documentary
UR     2003     1hr 30min

Sick is the internationally acclaimed Sundance award-winning film about the comedian and performance artist Bob Flanagan whose experiences with S/M helped him manage his painful disease of cystic fibrosis. A deeply moving ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Bob Flanagan, Sheree Rose, Kathe Burkhart, Kirby Dick, Rita Valencia
Director: Kirby Dick
Creators: Sheree Rose, Kirby Dick, Jonathan Dayton, Dody Dorn
Genres: Documentary
Sub-Genres: Biography
Studio: Lions Gate
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 09/23/2003
Original Release Date: 11/07/1997
Theatrical Release Date: 11/07/1997
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

"His CS Woulda Killed him If it Weren't For S&M!"
Kitten With a Whip | The Hellmouth | 12/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"That's not only a theme of this movie, it's part of the lyrics that self-proclaimed (and with good reason)"super-masochist" Bob Flanagan cheerfully sings at a lecture/performance-he did a pretty witty re-working of the "Supercalafraga..."etc song from Mary Poppins. Did I mention he's wearing a little costume including a cape when he performs it?Yep, Bob Flanagan had a pretty good sense of humor. That was one of the pleasant surprises of this movie. When I first heard about this movie, all I heard about was the hammer scene. I also had skimmed the RE-search book, and looking at some of the really extreme mutilations to areas of his body I would rather not name, I actually figured he was slightly disturbed. I'm pretty liberal and am of the opinion that what 2 consenting adults do, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else against their will, is their own business. I thought, because of his CF combined with this serious torture that he either was suicidal or hated himself. I also wondered about his relationship with his dominant/lover/partner of 15 years, Sheree Rose, hoping that it was loving and she wasn't just using him.I was glad that this movie proved my pre-conceived notions wrong. This is a very intelligent, sane, witty, talented, likeable, and above all, VERY brave guy who happened to enjoy being beaten and tortured sexually. The movie explains-without preaching- that he actually gained strength from his activities. (according to statistics, most CF sufferers die in their 20's. He lived till his early 40's (actually a record)and says his sex life kept him going. He figured for one thing, he had nothing to lose. For another thing, CF is a very painful disease, and he chose to use S&M as a way to take control of his pain and disease. If you find this a hard idea to understand, or are curious, I highly recommend this movie. This has been said before, but I don't recommend it if you're squeamish. I'm jaded, but I had to look away a few times. Interestingly enough, what I found harder to watch than the notorious Hammer of Love was seeing BF racked with pain, coughing his lungs out, and (I don't think I'm spoiling anything here as the movie opens with Bob good-naturedly writing his own obituary) finally losing his battle with CF.I also didn't think this movie would be so touching. Before the end, I realized he had a very loving relationship with Sheree. Not only are they sexually a perfect match, she is his best friend, soulmate, and care-giver, which is no mean feat. Face it, if you don't love someone, you're not going to be sticking around and helping them expel mucus from their lungs on a regular basis. When he starts losing his fight and finally goes to the hospital to die, the scenes of them together, with her gently telling him it's OK to leave her, are some of the most heart-breaking I've ever seen. This is one brave woman. Also, when she's not in her S&M gear, she could easily pass for an kindly elementary school teacher. It's a great contrast to see her tying him up and sticking needles in his groin in one scene, and later to see her rocking and knitting peacefully in another. I was also haunted by the scenes of him dying, the way he looked, and what he said, things that I've heard are very common last words such as, "I never thought this would really happen...this is so weird." Is this a hard movie to watch? Even if graphic depictions of *very* sensitive areas of the body being nailed, pounded, and pierced don't faze you, I cannot imagine anyone who wouldn't be shaken or at least moved watching the later scenes of this man really, literally dying in front of the camera and your eyes. But I'm glad I saw it. My husband, however, loves documentaries, and even talked about seeing the movie when it was in limited release. I made the mistake of telling him about one of the little demonstrations, and now he refuses to see it, no matter how good it is (and he's sat through some pretty nasty stuff). If you're brave and feeling up to it, though, I highly recommend this movie. If you're easily (or even not-so-easily) grossed-out, but have an interest in the life and death of this man, then just cover your eyes during the graphic parts. And when you hear "Hammer of Love" start playing, you may want to leave the room for a minute or two."
Brave And Severely Disturbing
Martin A Hogan | San Francisco, CA. (Hercules) | 06/19/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)

"It takes a certain kind of brave and twisted person to turn his life and body into an S & M performance piece. Bob Flanagan is both sick and brilliant. Flanagan survived cystic fibrosis until the age of forty-two - a very long time. He attributes this to constantly inflicting pain on himself relentlessly over the years. His dominatrix partner Sheree, helps him with is goals. The various scenes are sometimes spliced with dark humor and other times simply shown in their bleak gruesomeness. There is nothing that Bob and Sheree have not done to him to inflict pain in the most disgusting ways possible. It's an entirely different world and it takes a strong stomach to watch. Bob specializes in abusing his penis in ways unimaginable, including a scene with a hammer, a nail and a board - there is blood. The most amazing part of this documentary is when Bob and Sheree take this `performance art' to various museums in New York and Los Angeles. Bob allows himself to be raised by his feet, pierced, shackled and naked, high above the museum goers heads. It is disturbing. If you have an interest in the S & M/bondage world, you might find this interesting, but the scenes are so graphic and sometimes overwhelming in their intensity, it can be hard to stomach. This is a perplexing film."
Robin Simmons | Palm Springs area, CA United States | 09/24/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"SICK (Lions Gate) is a caustic, brilliant, funny, compassionate look at the life and death of comedian Bob Flanagan, who embraced S/M to manage the pain of cystic fibrosis. You will be shocked and amazed and moved to tears of laughter and sadness all at once. This edgy, arty, documentary record of a performance artist with something deeply meaningful to say about the ironic paradoxes of pain and pleasure, and the unexpected gift of life and certain death is not for everyone. So open your mind, see it, and be a better human."
Honest and Inspiring
Northern Girl | USA | 11/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is far from a simple story.

I have a very small, miniscule glimpse of what it's like to live in pain on a daily basis. After watching this mans story I realize I have nothing to complain about and so much yet to experience and learn.

I will never want to participate in S&M sexual behavior. I'm just not programmed that way. I didn't, however shudder away from the sights on the screen while Sheree, Bob's lover and partner of 15 years, poked needles through the skin of his scrotum and while Bob hung by his ankles and choked on his disease. He had Cystic Fibrosis. The most difficult part of the documentary was watching him die. It is in your face death, and death of the worst kind. He drowned in his own phlegm and fluids.

But he lived so incredibly hard and his way, with what seemed like no apologies or regrets. This documentary shows a humor of the sickest and smartest kind.

I remember being a young girl, maybe 9 and watching a "Hallmark Movie of the Week". It was called Alex: The Life of a Child. I later found out it was actually based on a book written by her father, Frank Deford. I was so moved by this story and didn't understand at that age why someone as old as me had to die from having a cold. I didn't understand Cystic Fibrosis or what it actually did to the body, but I never forgot the movie or the disease and eventually read the book. When I read about SICK, the documentary, I had to get it. I'm morbid in my own way I suppose. I'm curious about things that a lot of people wouldn't dare read or watch or even talk about, so this was right up my alley. Had I known I was going to become so entranced by Bob I think I would have chosen not to watch. Only because you see this sick but Alive man I said and It's something that is incredibly difficult to just put out of my mind.

Regardless, I am so moved and am so glad he had the courage to put his story on film for the world to see. I only wish more people had the courage to watch his life, with out judgment and with empathy."