San Francisco Weekly

Not a Toy Anymore
The cinema of Fisher-Price
By Gregg Rickman
The shimmery, unearthly images generated by the PXL-2000 have drawn many fans since the toy camera's first release in the 1980s. And just about all of those fans seem to have made experimental videos, judging from the glut of riches in this year's PXL This festival. As usual, the best offerings are those that take advantage of the blurry, surveillance-camera-like nature of PXL images, like John Humphrey's PSA, an ode to dogs romping free in the park (and the poop they leave behind). In naturalistic color it would be quite off-putting, but in PXL-vision it's charming and funny...


San Francisco Weekly
Pixel Dust,The extreme sport of low resolution,
Wednesday, April 21, 2004

In an age of perfect high-tech imagery, the fuzzy black-and-white images of Fisher-Price's PXL-2000 camera retain their appeal for many no-budget filmmakers. Now, the 13th annual PXL This Fest offers a pleasing demonstration of just what a children's toy that records images and sound onto audiocassettes can do. The best tapes on show take advantage of the camera's built-in smeariness to abstract into pure form...
...Even better, John Humphrey's Pee Wee Goes to Prison pulls authenticity from the PXL's surveillance-camera aesthetic for its parable of the comedian's arrest, acted out with old Pee-wee's Playhouse puppets. Characters you haven't thought of in years (Jambi, Chairry) make cameos, and Pee-wee's jury of peers is made up of trademarked PEZ dispensers.

Screenings begin at 8:30 p.m. at Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia (at 21st Street), S.F. Admission is $5; call 824-3890 or visit -- Gregg Rickman


Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Pee Wee Goes to Prison (John Humphrey, 12 min.) sounds like an excuse to take cheap shots at Paul Reubens' legal troubles, but it turns out to be something else entirely: an imaginary episode of Pee Wee's
Playhouse--reproduced as faithfully as possible using action figures--where Pee Wee is falsely accused of dealing drugs and is subsequently incarcerated. Like "Victim!," the pop-culture reference is strangely dated, but regardless, the remarkably accurate recreation of the popular Saturday morning television show is commendable. The voices of Pee Wee, Miss Yvonne, Chairry, Randy, and Pterri the Pterrodactyl are all spot on.
The story is engaging and the camera work is solid. All-in-all, an impressive debut for Humphrey.


Dark, grainy PXL fest shows art of bare-bones filmmaking.
By Rahne Pistor (The Argonaut, November 13, 2003)

John Humphrey's film "Pee-Wee Goes to Prison" is both hilarious and sickening, but remarkable in its combining of color footage and grainy black and white PXL footage.

The film features a raid on children's character Pee-Wee Herman's Playhouse by overzealous narcotics agents who brutalize, beat and arrest the loveable nerd on narcotics charges.

The scenes are played out by plastic action figures of Pee-Wee Herman and friends. Scenes of Pee-Wee and pals frolicking in his Playhouse are shot in color, while scenes of the police raid switch to the dark, grainy PXL. The film, although sometimes overly goofy and childish, develops into a paradoy of judges and politicians and a critcism of the prison system in the United States.