DVD slight return
Sometimes being weird just means being weird. Harmony Korine’s Trash Humpers doesn’t even look like it was shot in this universe so much as on a parallel planet named Suck Egg Mule. A free form meditation on cruelty to dolls and fauna the film, thankfully short by narrative standards, invites the viewer to witness repeating scenes that weave a kind of poetic loop of bizarre behavior.
Most of the characters wear hideous wrinkled masks that suggest they’re oldsters roaming around suburban neighborhoods on even older bicycles. To their two-wheeled vehicles they’ve strung dolls that they drag behind like victims of delusional fever dreams. If a bush or big plastic trash can happens to be on or near their trail they will surely spend time dry humping said object. There’s a scene halfway through where a redneck peckerwood starts telling the old geezers racist jokes and they are laughing like hyenas. As symbolism, Korine’s previous films are much more subtle, even Mr. Lonely. Oddly, Korine is a talented enough director that this meaningless circle of confusion actually seems to be a metaphor of meaning for the disenchanted.
It should be noted that this ultra low-fi production (it was shot on video, not digital video, just video) features an impressive DVD menu that plays on its spartan presentation. The DVD comes with deleted scenes (please no) and two shorts that continue with skits involving the uncanny characters of Trash Humpers. The DVD includes a thick booklet that resembles an underground fanzine. The end pages dedicated to Korine’s bio are redacted.
Nightmares in Red, White and Blue
This documentary presents a comprehensive study of the horror film genre in American cinema. Starting over 100-years ago with a Thomas Edison production of Frankenstein and up to current torture-porn features there’s no stone left unturned. In between we are treated to a scholarly and user-friendly analysis of Universal horror, silent film scares, post-WW II atomic mutants, 60s revisionist horror like Hammer produced films, 70s Chainsaw movement and even comparison of horror villains from Lon Chaney and his various guises to Hannibal Lechter.
Talking head interviewees include John Carpenter, Joe Dante, Roger Corman, and George Romero; in short the best commentators on the subject one could hope to hear from. Along with a doc from earlier this year, American Grindhouse that concentrates on the history of exploitation cinema, Nightmares in Red, White and Blue is a must see document for both horror mavens and cinemaphiles alike.
I Know What I Saw
I Know What I Saw documents advances in UFOology over the last ten or so years. This doc made for the History Channel includes comprehensive footage of the Phoenix Lights (1997) as well as airline pilots, FAA officials and military agents from the UK and France speaking on the record about their experience with UFOs.
Extras include a 1979 interview with J. Allen Hynek where he explains his coining of the phrase “close encounters of the third kind.”
The Human Centipede
You have to go back to the 80s and serious horror films like John Carpenter’s The Thing and Re-Animator to even come up with a film to compare to The Human Centipede. While the plot is simple enough the execution is superlative. A trio of students vacationing, not even together, in Europe are kidnapped by an evil Germanic doctor who conducts cruel medical experiments on his victims.
Unsettling doesn’t even begin to describe the mise en scene. Phrases like thought provoking and compelling can’t even begin to explain the gross nature of the gore on display. Much of the terror is psychological, like the doctor giving a lecture on his unholy medical techniques to his bound and screaming prisoners. The middle section actually surpasses what passes for contempo horror films (Saw and its ilk, Hostel 2) when the film leaves no guessing games as to what the operation entails. The latter part of the film details the post-op trio, now bound in more ways than one, and their attempt to escape.
The Human Centipede had the briefest of theatrical releases last May when it played as a midnight movie at the River Oaks. Its small distributor IFC may not have the clout to get a film like this in thousands of theaters, and maybe, considering how frightening it really is, that’s a good thing.
– Michael Bergeron