(1987) dir. J. Michael Muro
I stumbled across this movie in the San Francisco Chronicle, which was detailing a minor revival of this “lost” cult film that never achieved its cult status from the late 1980’s. Frankly, I had never heard of it, but it sounded pretty amusing. It’s about homeless people, certainly a very pre-PC version of homelessness, who become dissolved into day-glo colored gelatin when they drink this strange, long past its sell-by date “Viper” liquor from a local liquor store.
This movie features almost totally unknown actors, from a one time only director Muro, who did have some camera credits for some Frank Henenlotter films. This film has a similar feel to Henenlotter especially Frankenhooker (1990), with its tasteless gore and over-the-top humor featuing comedic necrophilia, penis detachment (by yanking), and even a decapitated head enjoying a glance up a woman’s skirt. There is something charming about it, its humor, its goofiness, its unbridled lack of taste.
It reckons of many things, particularly of the Troma studio line, but also has elements of social criticism. It also features some pretty funny dissolutions, interestingly each of a different color. The film has a strange point of view, leaning toward two younger homeless guys, particularly the youngest of them. Still, it’s so scattershot in its approach, I couldn’t really say much more about that.
It is funny to me because it is so insensitive and demented in that perspective, right around the time that homelessness became a real social issue in the media. It also has an interesting little narrative off-shoot about the psychotic Vietnam vet, who has flashbacks and kills relentlessly. But to pretend that the subtext is anywhere near the point of this film is to utterly, entirely miss the point.