by Rob Gonsalves
As fate would have it, I caught this documentary right after seeing "Boys Don't Cry." I certainly wouldn't make the mistake of drawing an elaborate parallel between Brandon Teena and GG Allin, the ferociously vomitous punk-rock icon. Brandon would have taken one look at the bloody, shit-smeared GG and run the other way, but GG might have looked at Brandon and seen a fundamental likeness. Both were outlaws and outcasts; both pushed their lives to extremes and pushed against a society that wouldn't let them be what they wanted to be -- though Brandon sought to assimilate, while GG was all about confrontation and alienation. Brandon wanted to be part of society, as a man; GG wanted no part of it, and preferred to be an animal.Directed as an NYU student project by Todd Phillips (who went on to make the controversial Frat House and the comedies Road Trip and Starsky & Hutch), Hated chronicles some time in the public life of GG Allin and his band, the Murder Junkies, as they embark on a "tour" (thus violating GG's parole). For much of the movie, Phillips adopts a neutral, deadpan stance towards GG that's often scabrously funny. Watching GG's antics — slashing himself with a razor, pounding himself in the head with a mike, beating up audience members and yanking women around by their hair, shoving a banana up his ass and tossing the chunks at an appalled NYU audience, rolling around in his own shit onstage — safely in your own home, you can enjoy the lowbrow apocalypse as surreal theater. His bandmates (including his brother Merle, who seems to have a little more on the ball than GG, but not much) explain to us that, of course, GG's act is a statement on the violence in society and the lack of "sweetness" in the world. But watching some of GG's fans, mostly drunk or stoned, and obviously hungry for a freak-out experience they can talk about later, you wonder whether anyone who listened to him actually got that message.
"Memorably vomitous, and often funny."
Apparently GG Allin wasn't just a monster onstage — he lived the role constantly, though we have to take that on faith, since it's always difficult to tell how documentary subjects behave when there's no camera around. But what did it all amount to? Unlike the Sex Pistols, who roared into America on a wave of spit and left behind one great album, the Murder Junkies remain unknown to anyone outside, say, New York or the underground music scene (or those who see this film). Reportedly, GG put out some 20 albums since 1979, but do you know anyone who owns or has even heard one of them? GG failed to make any meaningful mark (he had promised to kill himself onstage on Halloween 1992, which might have secured him a spot in the margins of rock history), perhaps because, aside from his onstage terrorism, he and his band sounded like a dozen other gutter-rant, thrash-metal bands of the same period. Hated gives us a peek at the squalid outskirts of music, which is usually good for a few laughs (a surprisingly articulate GG fan named Unk is pretty funny, sometimes unintentionally) until it becomes depressing.
The DVD comes with 50 extra minutes of footage -- GG and the band "practicing" before a "show," the show itself (which lasts maybe two songs before it ends due to a combo of sound snafus and rapidly fleeing audience members), and GG and his cohorts roaming the seedy side of New York in search of heroin. Which, we're told, is what killed him the very next day. You don't know whether to laugh or cry at this: GG Allin, the furious punk animal who yearned to die onstage and live forever in music history, dying of something so mundane as an overdose -- and alone. The extra footage is highly fast-forward-worthy, but if nothing else it shows you that GG probably wouldn't have made his Halloween 1992 deadline anyway; it's a wonder he didn't die a lot sooner. Still, Hated by itself (it runs only 60 minutes) is an indelible, cathartic essay on the pure nature of rock.GG Allin may have had no talent aside from venomous sideshows, and it's difficult to draw a line connecting him and Elvis, but for a short while he embodied the fear, loathing, and passion that true rock should be about.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10675&reviewer=416
originally posted: 05/21/06 05:04:13