Terminal USA (1993) movie poster

director Jon Moritsugu
viewed: 05/15/2017

Endowed with financing from PBS and the NEA, Jon Moritsugu crafted a film about the Japanese-American experience. Even at the time, Moritsugu and crew wondered if the grantees had seen any of his movies before, because when he delivered Terminal USA, it was a bit of a shock to the Public Broadcasting System and the National Endowment for the Arts.

For Moritsugu, this was by far the biggest budget he’d contended with, and so even though a lo of the film remains lo-fi, you can see the production values in the cinematography, set design, and casting.

It’s a Japanese-American nuclear family going nuclear. Think the Ramones’ “We’re a Happy Family” and you’ve got this TV-esque clan in which mom is a drug addict, dad has delusions of the apocalypse, one son is repressed and closeted, the other (played by Moritsugu himself) is a drug-addled punk with a stylin’ girlfriend (Amy Davis), and the sister, a knocked-up teen who is sex crazed.

There is blood and piss and other bodily fluids in this demented comedy/satire. The punk rockness was in producing this for television in the early 1990’s. It’s pretty awesome.