Well, I certainly didn’t expect that.
The bastard child of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and HARD CORE LOGO (with some non-sequitur segments thrown in for good measure), THE LOST REALITIES OF HOG CALLER is less a narrative feature and more like a collection of music videos, comedy skits and interviews loosely tied together with scenes of an investigative journalist trying to track down the titular grindcore band Hog Caller. Occasionally visually inspired – with more organ meat and pig heads this side of a SAW sequel – it’s also an intentionally grating experience, and might be a difficult watch for your average viewer. Still, for those dialed into the very specific sensibilities of the band, there’s a lot here to love.
Hog Caller has existed as a musical entity since 2004, and members The Dirtfarmer (Tom Richards, who directs here) and Vomitrocious (Steve O’Donnell) are the main participants here. The two men make a hell of a racket, and if you’ve never experienced the grindcore genre, well, it can’t really be explained in text. It’s intentionally abrasive and confrontational, and – let’s face it – super fucking bad-ass, and you’ll be hearing a lot of it if you sit down to watch THE LOST REALITIES OF HOG CALLER. It’s inescapable, and in the same way that the music is provocative and anarchic, the film itself follows suit. Richards uses the mockumentary format – news broadcast footage, candid interviews, found footage – as a way to throw everything and the kitchen sink into the video melting pot.
A major influence on both the band and the film is Middletown, PA, the hometown of the two members and best known as being less than five miles away from Three Mile Island and its famous 1979 meltdown. The reactors make numerous appearances throughout the film, and it’s not hard to believe that growing up in the shadow of such an incident could twist a person’s sensibilities. And The Dirtfarmer and Vomitrocious are certainly twisted individuals, spending their time doing drugs, drinking beer, playing with meat and casually murdering people (with or without being accompanied by a topless woman in a pig mask). Interviews describe the duo as mysterious, awful, pious, mutated, spiritual and everything in between.
One memorable sequence involves the intrepid reporter finding a box of video tapes reportedly belonging to the two band members, and we’re treated to two BIZARRE sequences featuring our stars. The first is Huntin’ with The Dirtfarmer, which begins with the image of a rotting deer corpse. Lovely. The Dirtfarmer is out to track down Osama Bin Laden (or, some guy in bedsheets), who happens to be meeting in the middle of the woods with George W Bush (or, some guy in a mask) to pal around and shoot at targets with pictures of Jesus affixed to them. Yes, this happens. The two smoke weed, and are mowed down by The Dirtfarmer. It’s more provocative ridiculousness than political commentary, but it gets the job done.
Inter-cut is a second sequence called Babysittin’ with Vomitrocious, featuring Hog Caller’s other member carting around a dead pig (decked out in a bonnet) in a stroller. He takes it to the park, and feeds it ice cream (intermittently abusing it verbally and physically) before bringing it out into the woods, shooting it and then setting the whole thing on fire. Oh, and they overdub the sound of a back gurgling and crying, just to up the what-the-fuckedness of the whole thing. Squeamish viewers might duck out at this point, but if you’re squeamish.. why the hell were you watching in the first place?
Richards uses plenty of appropriately psychedelic filters, and the rapid fire editing keeps you on your toes. Production values are very impressive, though the image quality varies considering that almost every video format you can imagine – Hi8, Super 8, miniDV, HD, 16mm – was used. Even better is the use of audio, encompassing both the Hog Caller music as well as a bevy of moans, squeals and other oddness just to make sure your senses are being attacked on all fronts.
It’s all a bit of a mind-fuck, but if topless women covered in meat, the gutting of an Elvis impersonator, fishing for dead opossums, or bodily dismemberment hold some appeal, then you’ll be in hog heaven. Even if you’re not a fan of the group, the film has the gleeful, bad-taste sensibility of an early Troma film and there’s a real sense of energy in the proceedings, even if a viewing my require an occasional time-out in order to recover. Definitely an unforgettable experience.
Three Nightmares out of Five
One Nightmare – No-Budget Perfection, Two Nightmares – Shocking Success, Three Nightmares – Shows Potential, Four Nightmares – Not Much Fun, Five Nightmares – Please Kill Me
Join us this week for an interview with The Lost Realities of Hog Caller director Tom Richards
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