Saturday, 24 May 2014

Twisted Issues (1988) Charles Pinion

The first feature from teacher turned punk turned film-maker Charles Pinion, Twisted Issues has a pretty good claim to being one of the most punk rock films ever made, or at least one of the most punk rock horrors ever made, horror not being a genre notable for its serious treatment of subcultures. Initially planned as a straight documentary on the Gainsville punk scene, additional writers turned the film into a genre fiction piece, with a plot loosely focused on Paul, a straight edge skater mown down by scumbags who is brought back to bandaged zombie life by a mad scientist, then nails his skateboard to his foot and goes off in pursuit of vengeance. The slasher aspects are fun, with kills circling that weird high energy territory where ineptitude undergoes fusion and becomes sublime, they aren't quite there but they never bore and rarely frustrate in the way that these films sometimes can. Fair amount of blood sprayed about, a goofy eye gouge and even goofier severed limb, amusing stuff. Also Paul's revival is portrayed through a bunch of nasty slaughterhouse stills so people who like bolt pistolled cow heads will be pleased. 

But what really attracts is the atmosphere, a totally authentic evocation of suburban punk nihilism. People hang out, sit around or stand around, drink, smoke, skate, drive, go to shows, most of them don't even have names let alone clues and all the while Pinion himself and occasional companions watch events on TV as well as news reports, an anti skating ranter and an imposing face inviting viewers to "Say yes". There's no great underlying point, an early sequence intercutting skating footage, Reagan, Hitler, Saddam Hussein, armies, bombs and so forth illustrates the extent of the smarts on display up front. And the constant punk tunage is only intermittently more than forgettable, mostly repetitive stuff that's probably fun to see live on a skinful but becomes wallpaper at home. But the kills and the filler and the meta-cinema framing all come together with a fittingly nutty finale, painting a portrait of life that is violent and stupid and meaningless and ruled over by people equally violent and stupid, and all damned to endless repetition of being violent and stupid and meaningless without even death to end the cycle. Most times films deal with subcultures they project their own ideas and ideals and may come across as satisfying art but are laughable and even insulting treatments of their subjects, Twisted Issues is far from this and that makes it kinda fascinating to me. 

Of course most will find this pretty tough to bear, and even those few who are attracted may find that a little goes a long way (the film is a little too long, around the hour mark wearing thin for a bit but picking up for the final ten minutes odd). Technically much as you'd expect, shots that are too dark, overenthusiastic use of red and blue filters, dialogue frequently muffled by the music or by ambient noise, camera work in the crap side of verite and so on. But you know, who cares about technical accomplishment in a friggin' SOV flick as long as it does what it needs to, which it does. To wrap up, this isn't going to appeal to many even among 80's SOV horror fans but if you've read this far it might be for you so go get it watched. Buffalo.

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