Monday, October 3, 2011


Director: Jay Cheel
Writer: Jay Cheel
Starring: Ralph Zavadil
2011 | Canada | Not Rated | 92 mins

Local public-access television has evolved over the years into its current state of begin safe and informative emulating that of normal network programming. But back in the glory days public-access was a Roman bath of local insanity. The eccentrics, the loonies, and anyone with a creative idea could have a shot at having their own show. From off-kilter cooking shows, to metal-heads with a sock puppet band, to landscape painting these were shows of cathode ray tube myth and legend. Way before YouTube and way before digital, public-access was an outlet for some of the craziest stuff that you could only discover by a) Living in the region the program was broadcast or b) Coming across someone's personal VCR recordings via underground VHS trading.

St. Catherines, Ontario. 1995. A camera rolls as Ralph Zavadil jumps off an extension ladder towards a tarp-covered pool but instead of hitting the target he falls head-first to the ground and breaks his neck. This is Cap'n Video, a man with a S-VHS camera and his own public-access TV show. And if the neighbour kid next door was not home when this happened Ralph would have died and we would not know his story. Before YouTube, before Jackass, The Cap'n Video Show was providing the people of St. Catherines with the wacky, wild, and dangerous tour de force of stunt comedy. From drinking raw egg through his nose to jumping into sheds from telephone poles to his trademark slogan "It's going to be a beauty day! Yeeooowww!", Cap'n Video was clearly a madman with one mission: to, pure and simply, entertain. The odyssey of discovering the story behind Ralph Zavadil may end up being just as weird, wild, and wonderful as any Cap'n Video show. 

Beauty Day is a documentary film that has to be seen to really be believed. An incredible story filled with ambition, heartbreak, insanity, inhibition, and above all: joy. Jay Cheel, one of the founders of and, originally planned this as a 15-minute short piece that was just going to go up on the web but when he started interviewing more people about Cap'n Video he discovered a greater story than just a man who started stunt comedy as we know it today. Ralph Zavadil is one-of-a-kind. A man, who upon beating cancer when he was quite young, decided to live life to his idea of the fullest and this drive and disabling of his own internal off-switch is endlessly endearing, fascinating, off-kilter, and more complex than any fictional character. Only in real life do we get stories this bizarre and unbelievably good.

Jay Cheel and producer Roman Pizzacalla craft a documentary that is as compelling and human as it is insane and gut-bustingly hilarious. Discovering a world unfold with the zest and character that Ralph Zavadil encompasses, Beauty Day is a gem that shows us that Cap'n Video is not an alter-ego of Ralph's but they are really one and the same. And this life is really stranger than fiction. After the disbelief of the opening into this tale you'll be smiling throughout the entire film, both manically shocked and gloriously entertained just like Cap'n Video would have wanted. Beauty Day is pure joy. Pure cinematic joy.

All contents copyright 2011 Tyler Baptist

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