Sunday, July 31, 2011

Future-Kill (Ronald W. Moore, 1985)

Trapped in a part of town where all the women either look like Sharon Mitchell from She's So Fine or Lois Ayres in The Devil in Miss Jones 3, five frat boys in eye makeup are desperate to escape its dilapidated embrace. Whoa, hold on a second, did you just say they were trying to flee an area where the female residents bear a striking resemblance to Sharon Mitchell and Lois Ayres? What the fuck is wrong with these people? If you hadn't interrupted me, I might have gotten around to explaining why this crude collection of college age dunderheads wanted to vacate this shadowy patch of concrete in such an accelerated manner. But now I don't know. Just kidding, of course, I'll explain why. Even though we're all the same, our brains are filled with contrasting ideas as we develop. Manifesting themselves in a number of different ways, these brain-based variations can apply to things as diverse as language and culture. However, one of the most significant ways these differences can unmask themselves is through a person's wardrobe. Just because you're body is clothed a certain way, does not necessarily mean your mind is clothed in a similar fashion. In others words, you may look like a mutant, but you don't think like a mutant. And in Future-Kill, a cunning examination of cutting edge fashion and its connection to urban violence from writer-director Ronald W. Moore, we learn firsthand that a superficial makeover should always be paired with a spiritual one. Getting one or the other may fool the unenlightened, but most people will see right through your ruse and try to kill you.

In order to be a successful adolescent person operating in the North American milieu, you'll eventually have to embrace a subculture. A decision that is bound to be fraught with unforeseen complications, you must choose wisely or else face the consequences. Unveil your subculture choice too quickly and you risk being mocked mercilessly by your peers (there's nothing worse than an overnight punk). Take too long and you could find that the subculture you have chosen to represent your personality has lost its allure (you don't want to come off as out of date or insincere). Since teenagers are usually away from the open air petri dish that is your average high school during the summer months, I recommend that you craft your new look gradually while amongst your closest friends. Iron out the kinks, practice walking in the shoes (all subcultures come with their own distinctive footwear), visit the record store at least once a week, trim your pubes accordingly, and you should be good to go by the time September rolls along.

Unfortunately, the frat boys in Future-Kill have had no gestation period whatsoever when it came time to launch their new looks. Woefully unprepared for life on the other side of the tracks, Paul (Gabriel Folse), Steve (Wade Reese), Tom (Barton Faulks), Jay (Rob Rowley), and George (Jeffrey Scott), may look like radioactive mutants, but they're still crass frat boys at heart.

Performing one juvenile prank too many, the aforementioned quintet are told that they can make things right with their president (a sap they just tarred and feathered) if they bring back an anti-nuke mutant from their post-apocalyptic hellscape masquerading as a neighbourhood. In order to blend in, each frat boy is given a mutant makeover. As you would expect, the montage that follows was the best montage where globs of irregular eye makeup is applied to the eye areas of men on the cusp of heterosexuality in the entire movie. Anyway, on top of having their faces painted with garish colours, they're given mutant-friendly clothing and haircuts.

Driven to the mutant part of town located just outside the non-mutant part of town, a place populated mostly by punks and freaks who oppose nuclear proliferation, by Clint (Craig Kanne), a senior fraternity member, the newly transformed mutants get their first taste of mutant life when they're verbally assaulted by a car full of, you guessed it, drunken frat boys. When they try to yell back–you know, explain to them that they're drunken frat boys in disguise–the drunken frat boys in the other car ignore what they're saying and continue to ridicule them.

Plunging deeper into mutant territory than they expected, the drunken frat boys, who are, in fact, completely sober, desperately want Clint to pick a mutant for them to kidnap, so they can get this ordeal over with. Of course, the mutant he ends up choosing turns out to be Eddie Pain (Doug Davis), the leader of the anti-nuke mutants. While it's true, Eddie tries to adhere to a policy of non-violence, the same can't be said for a mutant named Splatter (Edwin Neal from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre), an armour-wearing killing machine whose veins are coursing with radiation.

In an act of ill-advised stupidity, they casually approach Eddie and Splatter with the intention kidnapping the former, and you can pretty much guess what happens next. (Free tip: Never casually approach someone called "Splatter.") During the ensuing melee, Splatter ends up killing Clint (stabbed in the neck with his retractable claws) and Eddie (stabbed in the neck with some kind of throwing star). But I thought Eddie and Splatter were tight, what gives, man? Well, it seems that Splatter didn't agree with the whole peace and love thing Eddie was pushing (no surprise given the fact that his name is "Splatter") and decided to get rid of him. And who better to pin his murder on than a bunch of frat boys pretending to be mutants.

Running wildly into the night, the frat boy mutants split into two groups: Paul and Jay go one way, while Steve, George, and Tom go another. Since the trio of frat boy mutants seem to think that they're starring in a shot-for-shot remake of The Warriors (they get chased, they stop and fight, they get chased some more), I'll focus the bulk of my attention on what Paul and Jay got up to. And why is that, exactly? What if I said, Jennifer Balgobin-esque gams glimmering underneath a faulty streetlight, would that make any sense? No? What do you mean, no? The character they run into reminded me of actress Jennifer Balgobin (Dr. Caligari), she wore an outfit that exposed the tantalizing flesh that covered her femur, and, to matters even more succinct, she stood in the vicinity of a streetlight for a greater part of the film's running time. It makes perfect sense! God, you people sometimes. All right, I've gotta cool down. I'm about to blow a basket full of penis-shaped gaskets.

Okay, where was I? Oh, yeah, Paul (uninteresting story, I thought his name was Doug for most of the film - he had a real Doug vibe about him) and Jay meet up with a lady mutant named Julie (Alice Villarreal) as she's being hassled by the cops. Helping to untangle her from a precarious situation (the police definitely had rape and candy on their minds), Paul and Jay hope that Julie will return the favour by showing them how to escape from mutant city (which looks an awfully lot like Austin, Texas). Reluctant to say "thanks" to her rescuers ("thanks doesn't exist around here," she grumbles), Julie, her pink dress covered with a smattering of fuzzy thingamabobs and a dash of unnecessary moxie, eventually does thank them and agrees to lead them to safety.

The mutants, as Julie explains to her new friends, are just like everyone else. The only reason they dress like dime store punks and wear crazy makeup is because they're trying to draw attention to their cause. And what better way to make right wing lunatics stand up and take notice of you than by dressing up like Annabella Lwin from Bow Wow Wow and decorating your eyeballs in a way that will no doubt remind them of Gina Kikoine's fierce peepers on the cover of Gina X Performance's X-Traordinaire (crypto-fascists adore West German disco).

Meanwhile, over in Splatter-town (the imaginary place where Splatter resides when he's not killing zods - the mutant nickname for frat boys), Splatter is trying to enjoy a moment of quiet reflection. When all of a sudden, two mutant chicks, one curious (Karin Kay) as to what kind of deformed cock Splatter was hiding underneath all that armour platting, and one incurious as to what kind of, well, you get the idea (the incurious mutant chick, for those interested in such things, is played by not renowned thespian Elizabeth Henshaw), interrupt Splatter's warehouse alone time. Well, the curious mutant chick does the majority of the interrupting, after all, she's curious, whereas the other one is incurious. At any rate, despite the fact that Splatter is a ruthless killer, part of me likes to think that even he was pleasantly surprised that he started his evening off by murdering someone with a chunk of corrugated sheet metal.

Reunited with their frat boy brethren, the five zods and their lovely mutant guide decide to hit up a club. And it's about time, as I was growing tired of watching incompetently staged brawls in the dark. Leave your weapons at the door, because we're about enter the new wave world of Max and the Makeups, one of Austin's, so I've been told, finest live acts. Lead by the gorgeous Lisa Gamache, the band perform their song "Xerox" in its entirety, while Paul and Julie bond with one another in the audience. This particular sequence gave Future-Kill a much needed kick in the proverbial pants, as the sight of Marilyn Burns (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) wearing armour and fishnets as Dorothy Grim, a mutant who holds to key to defeating Splatter, was the only thing this film had going for it up until this point. The energy, and, let's be honest, the raw sex appeal (Miss Gamache looked amazing in her black silk stockings) that Max and the Makeups injected into the film was greatly appreciated from where I was sitting.

After shaking down one of Julie's friends (Cathy Durkin) for information (her black garters quivering against her smooth skin with nervous trepidation as a clawlike object rubbed against them), Splatter and his raccoon-eyed, uzi-wielding, cat-killing henchmen finally track down the frat boys at his old hang-out. The dark, muddled alleyway fight scenes that we've been enduring for the past forty or so minutes have been replaced with a rich tapestry of colour. Red, blue, green, purple, and even teal, are represented as Splatter, the henchmen, Dorothy Grim, Julie, and the zods stalk the vivid halls.

It's hard to believe, but the frat boy's inexplicable aversion to mild transvestitism is what put them on a collision course with a mutant named Splatter. Whoa, that is hard to believe. Well, it's true. You see, all that unnecessary stress could have been avoided had the frat boys simply agreed to their original punishment, which involved wearing leopard print lingerie in a public forum. The fact that they were so vehemently opposed to wearing ladies undergarments is what lead to the kidnapping a mutant idea. Let that be a lesson to all you kids out there, don't be afraid of intimate apparel.

Speaking of which, the opening scene, well, the second opening scene (the actual opening scene features Splatter working at his desk), boasts a great party sequence where intimate apparel seemed mandatory. Hot dogs, nighties, dildos, drum machines, inflatable sex dolls, big hair, John Hawkes, hairy chests, and a Deep Throat pinball machine all commingle with one another at a fraternity pajama party. While the effort put forth by all the extras (including Kimberly and Dana Weaver) should be commended, it was actually Robert Renfrow's synth-heavy music score and the outstanding work of costume designer Kathleen M. Hagan (she also does the film's makeup) that really made this chunk of the film stand out from the rest. The only things preventing me from telling everyone to turn off the movie after watching the pajama party scene is the fact you'll miss seeing Max and the Makeups, the fuzzy things dangling from Alice Villarreal's chic outfit, and Denice Creach's seductive turn as "call girl."

video uploaded by revokcom


  1. "there's nothing worse than an overnight punk"

    So many overzealous souls out there in the cold cruel world could learn a thing thing or three from that beautiful statement.
    And I never thought to look for Max and the MakeUps in real life, because I loved that song. Thanks! :)

  2. Have you seen Mutant Hunt by Tim Kincaid (Riot on 42nd st)? It's sort of like this crossed with The Terminator. It's cheap as balls and there's an actress that looks just like Lois Ayers. It's right up your alley.

    See what I mean? Alley fodder.

  3. @ the-scandyfactory: I'm telling ya, I saw countless examples of kids switching subcultures within the span of 24 hours.

    @Thomas Duke: No, but like any sane individual who watches that trailer, I want to; watch it, that is (love the Front 242-esque haircuts). Anyway, it definitely sounds like you know what scratches my alley's itch.