Monday, January 05, 2009

Population: 1
DVD Cult Epics
Written and directed by Rene Daalder
Starring Tomata du Plenty

This reissue of the 1986 cult classic starring Tomata du Plenty of legendary LA punk visionaries, The Screamers, comes as a double-disc set with the newly restored director's cut on the first disc and a bunch of extras on the second. And if I'm gonna be honest, I gotta admit that I hated the movie. Despite Tomata's considerable charisma, the film plays exactly like what it was: a chroma key-ed mess cobbled together from pre-MTV music videos, concert footage, old Americana, and bits of director Daalder's scrapped German expressionist-styled movie, Mensch, loosely held together by the revisionist American history 'narrative' of the apocalypse's sole survivor. The film itself is crap.

What isn't crap, however, is how historically important the film is; Daalder and company were DIY chroma key pioneers, paving the way for the music video as we know it. (You have Population: 1 to thank for how cool the video for The Cars' You Might Think was.) Also not crappy are most of the extras, including a really great interview with Rene Daalder about the characters and story behind the making of the movie (Russ Meyer, The Sex Pistols, Vampira, Al Hansen and his grandkid, Beck, Carel Struycken aka the giant from Twin Peaks, Penelope Houston of The Avengers, and Sheela Edwards all play roles). Daalder is fuckin' cool, man. And the live footage from a 1979 Screamer's gig at the Whisky A Go Go alone is worth the price of admission. Tomata du Plenty was indeed, to quote Daalder, the most "endearing, demented" character. So if you still have a couple of Christmas bucks to blow, buy Population: 1 and watch the extras. And then get yourself some decent hallucinogens and watch the actual movie. It's probably better that way.

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