I was somewhat surprised to read about the August Underground trilogy earlier this week, as I was prepping my next DIRTY DEVIANT WEEK article; surprised because I had never heard of the series before. I thought I had heard of everything sick and twisted thing in the world of film. I thought wrong.
I found out that the films follow a serial killer and his various girlfriends, henchmen, etc. as they go around killing and torturing people, all while an unseen and unnamed cameraman films the whole thing. It made it on a number of “Most vile in cinema” lists, was banned in numerous countries, was seized and labeled “actual crime footage” as it crossed over the border into Canada. Basically, it’s made a pretty good name for itself. Still couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of it yet. So, of course, I had to find it. However, the only one that I could find was the second installment, August Underground’s Mordum. The bookends to that had to be purchased and shipped to me. I decided to just go ahead and view the one I had my hands on for DIRTY DEVIANT WEEK.
My first gripe upon starting the film was the quality. Jesus, Mary and Joseph does this cameraman need a night class at the local tech school. It’s grainy and pixelated, half the time there’s not enough light or it’s not in focus or it’s zoomed in too far. It’s almost too much. At least Trash Humpers (by Harmony Korine) was steady the entire time. The quality of the picture wasn’t for shit, but you could tell what was going on. And maybe that’s the point; to give you the feeling of disorientation that these characters’ mental states are undoubtedly undergoing. There are more technical ways of going about that, in my opinion. The actual deviant content is pretty rewarding. These guys are fucked up. Women are beaten, nipples are sliced, dicks are cut off with tiny little scissors, incest, rape, and so on and so on. While it was pretty rough to watch certain parts, I couldn’t help but feel like we’ve all been here before. Something was so familiar, but what was it.
I got it! These are the Fireflies from The House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects. I can’t believe it didn’t dawn on me sooner. Remember all of those grainy, home-made segments in between all of the crisp, digital, Hollywood stuff in 1,000 Corpses? That’s basically what this was. All of the stuff that the Fireflies did on nights and weekends and we only saw the product of (the girls under all of the clothes in the cage in the basement, the girl left in the trunk with her belly carved into, making the fish-boy, etc.). Once I realized this, I got the familiarity of it all, but why didn’t I enjoy it then? I love 1,000 Corpses and Rejects. I then realized that the Fireflies are likeable. No matter what atrocities that they commit, you still don’t mind spending hours with them; they’re funny as hell and, come on, Sheri Moon Zombie is so hot.
So, what’s my assessment? Watch it. Even with all of its flaws, of which it has a couple, it still needs to be under every Deviant’s belt. I’ll definitely be ordering the first film; maybe the quality is better.(?) As for what I expect of these films in the future, please just make them more original and to where we can actually tell what the hell is going on. Thanks.
A note about Trash Humpers, linked above. The movie is insane and endlessly quotable. It follows three old deviants around Nashville; humping Trash cans, killing people, talking to weird chubby little kids, driving around. It’s not to be missed, even though it’s not technically a “horror” film; most people find it pretty horrifying.
Ladies and Deviants, I present...August Underground’s Mordum...
Matt, Signing Out