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February 7, 2011

The Movie Burrito: Volume 9 - GG Allin, Killer Puppets and a Troma classic.

On this Feburary edition of Cinema Head Cheese’s The Movie Burrito, we’re highlighting four very different DVDs, Todd Philips' masterpiece, Hated: GG Allin and The Murder Junkies, Combat Shock: Tromasterpiece Collection and the new release of the Canadian puppet sitcom, Puppets Who Kill: The Best of Seasons Three and Four from MVD Visual.

In 1985, filmmaker Buddy Giovinazzo set out to create an experience for filmgoers that would not only make us think a little more about how our veterans were effected both physically and mentally by the Vietnam war but at the same time put the viewers through the hell along with the lead character, Frankie Dunlan (Ricky Giovinazzo). This film was called Combat Shock and didn’t just strike a nerve - it severed it .Although it’s comparable to Scorcese’s, Taxi Driver (both with their protagonists struggling ex-vets with mental illness) it’s far less upbeat. Yes, even Taxi Driver was Disney next to the horror of Combat Shock. Troma has included Combat Shock in their Tromasterpiece line with both versions, the original cut under the title, American Nightmares ( 100 minutes ) and the version commonly seen, running 92 minutes.

Buy Combat Shock on DVD

This is the Tromasterpiece collection, so the extras on the two disc special edition are extremely plentiful. Giovinazzo does a commentary with his good pal, Jorg Buttgreit, that isn’t short of any information. Buttgreit is an obvious fan of the film and isn’t shy about praise. One the thing most evident in the extra features is the appreciation of Giovinazzo’s film, by his colleagues and fellow filmmakers. You get to see much of this in the excellent documentary, Post – Traumatic: An American Nightmare. This is the best part of the set aside from the film itself. Richard Stanley (Dust Devil),fellow New York filmmakers, William Lustig ( Maniac ), Roy Frumkes ( Street Trash, Document of the Dead) and Jim Van Bebber ( The Manson Family) all weigh in on why Combat Shock succeeded as a little independent film. Also included, some of Giovinazzo’s short films, an interview with Ricky Giovinazzo, the trailer and a few other Troma goodies. Overall, this release is superb and essential for all cult film fans.

While we’re kind of wallowing in the cesspool of genius that is Combat Shock, I find it prudent to segway into the next DVD release that’s every bit as grimy, just a different kind filth for fans of rock and roll train-wrecks. Before Todd Philips was chasing around a naked Will Ferrell and Zack Galifinakis, he directed Hated, starring the king of indecent exposure and feces-flinging, GG Allin. For me, Hated is a personal favorite documentary that’s consistently fascinating with its sole focus being a punk-rocker who thrives on shocking and sometimes beating the shit out his audience members. Amazingly, like so many artists that use this tactic you do feel that there is an intelligent guy under all of the self-mutilation antics. Philips makes a great point in the commentary for the movie, “a documentary is 80% subject”. Allin is really just left to do what he wants as Philips points his camera.

Buy Hated on DVD

MVD Visual has supplied some extras with the release. Two commentaries – Merle Allin and Dino and of course Philips . Philips is perfect by himself, recalling how he first started communicating with GG while he was still in prison, via mail. Another somewhat surprising recollection was Philip’s difficulty getting on the same page with Merle Allin. Apparently GG was a cake-walk compared to Merle’s inability to be reliable in any sense. With that said, Merle Allin very much brought this documentary together even with his absence. Philips does give plenty of credit here.

GG Allin’s mom gets a short interview on the disc. She recalls GGs’s birth and how she named him Jesus Christ. Merle, being a toddler at the time called him “GG” because he had some difficulty saying Jesus. MVD has also provided some rare concert footage to round out the strong bonus features. Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies Special Edition is a must own for admirers of this punk rock freak-show. You can also find many other GG Alllin related DVDs (including a bobblehead!?) over at the MVD Visual website.

On the opposite side of the spectrum from MVD Visual we have a brand-new release of the popular Canadian television series Puppets Who Kill: The Best of Seasons Three and Four. This lovingly tasteless show surrounds the lives of four killer puppets and their human social worker pal, Dan Barlow (Dan Redican). Dan’s a poor bloke. He’s constantly taken advantage of by his puppet roommates, Buttons a horny bear, and Cuddles the mass-murdering baby doll, Bill the dummy (he gives “Fats” from Magic a run for his money on the creepy chart) and finally Rocko, the gambling chain-smoking bear.

Buy Puppets Who Kill on DVD

I never got to see this show being here in the states but I must say, its surprisingly fun with some sharp writing and a brisk pace that makes many shows with real live people pale. The puppets really do have they're own personalities that are that are strong enough to bridge from episode to episode. Even so much as to focusing on a single puppet for an episode. It just works, so hats off to the writers. Puppets Who Kill is not overly vulgar but it does contain plenty of violence, f-bombs and even Buttons the bear receiving some “mouth love” courtesy of an undersexed, adulteress tart in one of the more memorable episodes. I have yet to see seasons one or two but after watching this enjoyable set, I’ll certainly be tracking them down.

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