Once…a long time ago…the counterculture was counter. Now – you buy it at the mall. Why spray-paint the “Anarchy” symbol on a T-shirt when you can buy a shirt that already has one for $22.00?
Movies are no different. Mainstream films are desperate to court an edgy “underground” feel. They try so hard to feel like counterprogramming – but when you’re dumping rich cake into prints and advertising – it’s all big business.
On the other hand – many of the weakest, high-concept, Z-grade films are conceived at a studio level…polished to an A-grade sheen – and most people never know the difference.
I’m talking to you, “Ghoshridir”…
Certainly, there are the filmmakers who can straddle the line – but it’s because they’ve lived it. They hit the dirt-malls and conventions and calendar houses – they’ve done the dumpster diving. They found the balls-out crazy you don’t get in a lot of films nowadays – and in turn, that insanity has found its way into their work.
And it’s easy to appreciate that work – because it’s right there at the multiplex, not even ten minutes away.
But it used to be a mail-order crapshoot. It used to be some insane dirt merchant on a convention room floor swearing that you needed to see this flick. That it was “the baddest hardcore-rotgut-explo dog-shit you’ll EVER see!”
And you’d end up dropping two bills for a bunch of Ruggero Deodato debauchery (which guy was selling Cut and Run uncut again?)…you’d end up with a copy of Dellamorte Dellamore (“off Japanese laserdisc, maan!”) you’d show everyone you knew…you’d find that print of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 with the added gore (and the cameo by your lord and savior Joe Bob Briggs)…or that grainy workprint of Return of the Living Dead with the documentary-style ending and audible direction from Dan O’Bannon.
“Okay, Linnea – rub yer’ butt!”
You’d pay anything for two extra minutes of Evil Dead 2 – there HAD to be a copy with that Evil Ed dismemberment footage somewhere (nope – the extra stuff was just a pillow on a couch with some smoke coming out of it).
You discovered that Chang Cheh has never made a bad film ever.
And no matter how many Fulci films you watched, you discovered there’s always room for Giallo.
You got to know Al Cliver personally.
Somewhere along the line – the feeling died. Dellamorte Dellamore, Texas Chainsaw 2, and Return of the Living Dead are available for purchase at Wal-Mart.
I’m not bemoaning the availability of these films. In all actuality, I love it – but I am mourning the fact that the feeling of discovery is pretty much a thing of the past. That feeling you got when you stuck some tape in your VCR and realized that you were indeed watching a film where a midget rapes a junkie prostitute with his cane…where a well-oiled and ridiculously-coiffed Metal Warrior wrestles Satan for our very souls…where blaxploitation and exorcism and rotoscoping collide…
…where zombies…use UZIs.
I want the feeling back. I want it back for all of us. And if nothing else – I want us to get to know Al Cliver.
You and me are going for a little ride. Welcome to Sewer Subterranea. Whatever crazy shit’s out there – we’re gonna’ find it together. Whether it’s forgotten silver or Mini DV…in someone’s basement – or in another part of the world. We’ll do a bit of history…talk to whoever’s willing (I hope someone’s willing – someone like Al Cliver)…watch anything – and smash everythang! Smash everythang! Smash everythang!