Those familiar with the works of Joe Christ via the interview and article conducted UNRATED magazine issue 1 will know that this director’s minute budgets and non-existent production values can prove a grating experience for air-heads looking for FX laden splatter fests. That’s not why Christ has managed to build up a cult following on the underground circuits. Joe’s unique form of showmanship, eye for spotting a potential subject he can exploit for maximum shock value, and a healthy “Don’t Give a Toss” attitude towards political correctness, with tongue placed firmly in cheek at all times make him, in my book, the only surviving member of the original 80s brigade of underground filmmakers, who can still nauseate an audience with excessive visual material.
DEPT. 13 seem intent on living up to their logo’s boast as “The Most Bizarre Movie Studio on Earth!” by presenting us with the first collection (in a proposed series) of Unholy Joe’s material to DVD. THEY DIE NEXT (The Films of Joe Christ Volume 1) comprises of three shorts SPEED FREAKS WITH GUNS (1991), CRIPPLED (1992) and ACID IS GROOVY KILL THE PIGS (1993). All the shorts feature (or resemble) Christ’s cinematic alter ego ‘Joe Speed Freak’ in sensationalised re-enactments of tales gleaned from low-life in the fast lane whilst living in Dallas and NYC. SPEED FREAK WITH GUNS follows Joe Speed Freak as he recounts to a cameraman various daily events in his warped life round NYC (though the murder sequences were filmed in Dallas, Texas). Joe is vomited on by a passer by, dresses up in garish women’s clothing, cuts himself whilst shaving (the cuts are real, Christ reveals in the accompanying commentary), masturbates whilst spaced out, and watches 8-mm footage of assorted other “Speed Freaks”, arming themselves to the teeth and embarking on a bizarre murder spree. The dialogue and ideas in this classic piece of trash come almost verbatim from real character’s that frequented Joe’s life whilst he was spaced out on amphetamine in the 80s. The film also stars Mary Leohr and Dana Wisdom (both from COMMUNION IN ROOM 410) as psychopathic sidekicks Kitten and Muffin, and a soundtrack by Christ’s Dallas based ’COMMUNION’ ensemble ‘Bigger Than God’.
Considered by many as Christ’s most outrageous feature, CRIPPLED is set entirely in one room with one camera set up as we watch a bed-ridden quadriplegic (played by Joe’s wife Nancy Collins under her NANZI X REGALIA moniker) suffer abuse from her slutty care-nurse (Margaret Petrov), who leaves her in soiled diapers, announces non-existent visitors, fails to administer her meals, and ignores her pleas for help. The care-nurse eventually walks out, leaving her charge to pathetically dial for a replacement with pencil in teeth. Enter Joe Speed Freak, who takes the opportunity to fist his charge (whilst menstruating – and lick his hand clean!), paw her incessantly and finally submit her to rape. Joe has said of the film “This is one that I almost never screen to audiences anymore. If I show it first, no one but my biggest fans stick around for the rest of the show. If I show it last, everyone leaves before I can sell them stuff afterward.” Gross in every way imaginable.
ACID IS GROOVY KILL THE PIGS was based on a real-life murder case, which occurred in 1970, involving the alleged slaughter of a former Army Green Beret’s wife by a gang of drug-crazed hippies. This was shortly after the Manson murder cases, so at the time when Captain Jeffrey MacDonald took the stand as witness to his family’s massacre, claiming that a "drug-crazed hippie-cult" committed the crimes, while chanting, "Acid is groovy. . . kill the pigs", the jury were happy to believe his version of events. However, following a series of re-trials evidence came to light that in fact MacDonald invented the story and committed the crimes himself. Joe’s scenario is a sick take on the theme and embellishes a narrative from the disgraced Captain’s stance. Joe plays the leader of the cult and other regular Christ disciples that include Ron English, Mary Leohr, Kathy Cowgirl, and Amy Shapiro participating as gang members or murder victims. Shock sequences in this one include aftermath shots of naked female victims with wounds to sexual areas, and a throat ripping performance from Scrapple the Wonder Dog.
DEPT. 13’s DVD is the ideal way to watch Christ’s movies and several details that remain obscure in previous VHS transfers can be seen here for the first time, including several gory killings and Christ’s shaving cuts (in SPEED FREAKS). Best of all is the priceless commentary track provided by Christ that details the making of these classic pieces of trailer trash. Including an episode where his former flat-mate returned to find her pet rat dead in its cage, covered in blood, and accused Joe of having cut off its balls (the rat apparently had died of old age, and haemorrhaged out of its anus). Another incident recounts a controversial Dallas screening of SPEED FREAKS in which the audience glared at the director during a sequence in which a naked actress is viciously stabbed. Joe thought the reaction was due to acquaintances of the actress having heard that she had subsequently wanted to have her nude scenes edited from the final print. But in fact, Christ subsequently discovered that she had died of a drugs related overdose, just the day before. There are countless other anecdotes included… But... Hey, buy the DVD. available from www.dept.13.com
Carl T. Ford
Directed by Joe Christ
USA / 1991/’92/’93 / 75 minutes
SPECIAL DVD FEATURES
Trailers for Misc DEPT.13 films
A DEPT.13 DVD Release
Region 0. NTSC. Dolby Digital Mono.
THEY DIE NEXT