.............................................................TRAPPED INSIDE A WORLD UNDER LEAGUES OF OCEAN........................................................

Sunday, October 16, 2011

movies: hated (1994)

Most of us know Todd Phillips as the director of frat-coms Road Trip, Old School and Starsky & Hutch, but there is a different kind of comedy that marks the director's debut film, the enthralling and disgusting rock-doc Hated. Enjoyment of the film is not entirely dependent upon your liking (or even knowledge of) GG Allin, but it helps to know what you're getting yourself into prior to the viewing. This is not some Don't Look Back wannabe, but a doc that focuses on one of the most notorious figures in the punk underground. GG was famous for self-mutilation, physical crowd abuse, and defecation (followed by the smearing of said shit on himself and flinging the remains at the crowd) during his shows, which are well-documented here. There is enough poo, blood, vomit and degradation for several lifetimes, but GG and his fans revel in the whole spectacle. And that's exactly what it is (or was). 17 years after his death, the show remains spectacular. Something I was simultaneously repelled and attracted to, and I can only imagine (thankfully - I have no real desire to have my nose broken and possibly contract hep C and e. coli poisoning) the terror and excitement of the adrenaline rush provided by attending one of the live shows. Truly an unmatched visceral rush, I'm sure.

The film follows GG's life in roughly chronological order, from his messed up childhood to his early attempts at starting bands, to his jail time, up to the then-present formation of the Murder Junkies, his band. The band itself is one of the more intriguing aspects of the whole shebang, and they act as the yin to GG's yang. There is no real weirdness there, except for hilarious and well-spoken brother Merle's penchant for fake beards, and drummer Dino's (who seems like he took a wrong turn during a peyote trip) preference for playing in the nude (matching GG's most oft-used stage costume). Other than that, they are relatively low-key, and almost a non-presence during the shows, as everyone is transfixed by the rabid performance of GG. The band merely gives Allin a canvas on which to paint, or more accurately, a toilet in which to shit.

Another cool thing about the film is its investigation of GG's fans - what sort of person is drawn to this type of spectacle? Predictably, perhaps, we see a rogue's gallery of freaks and weirdos, drunks, junkies, angry loners, social outcasts - in short, those who believe, rightfully or not, that there is no place for them in society, and have adopted GG as a kind of leader or god. There is also discussion in the film of GG's visits to and adoration by John Wayne Gacy. To be a fly on the wall during those conversations...

There is also footage of a rather bizarre appearance on Geraldo, and interviews with GG himself, who is visibly worse for wear in latter interviews, years of self-abuse and an increasing dependence on alcohol and heroin having taken their toll. GG was famous for claiming that he was going to kill himself on stage, and probably take a few audience members with him, but, as the doc notes "he died like a rock star, overdosing on heroin." The recently released special edition DVD has some good features, including a very lengthy interview with the present day Merle (still with it) and Dino (who seems like he's gone further down the rabbit hole); however, it was long rumoured and promised that this edition of the film would include footage from the final show, the night GG died. I was kind of morbidly curious, but was let down when the footage was absent. There is additional footage of the funeral, which is, sadly, very ordinary.

An extreme original, in the same way that Charles Manson was, it's cool to see people like GG exist (or existed), kicking against the pricks and with clearly no regard for authority of any kind and with very clear goals. It's also quite comforting to know that they're dead, or behind bars. There will be another GG, though, the world needs, and thus creates one every 20 years or so. Three years to go...

"My mind's a machine gun, my body's the bullets, and the audience is the target" - GG Allin

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