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August 9, 2013

Movie Review: The Films of Richard Kern - Hardcore Collection (Blu-ray)

Whenever I was thumbing through a Film Threat video guide in the early nineties there always seemed to be some really eclectic, interesting independent stuff that I’d never read about elsewhere.  I discovered wild films like Red and Nekromantik (both of which are huge favorites) and an interesting collection of shorts from controversial filmmaker Richard Kern. It was a while before I finally caught the films on VHS at a local Tower Records, when I did finally see it, shit was I blown away.  I didn't think I’d see the day, but Kern's The Films of Richard Kern - Hardcore Collection is here now and available on Blu-ray completely remastered in a Director's cut.

All the movies you remember from the previous releases are back in this three hour assault on the senses:Evil Cameraman, The Right Side Of My Brain, You Killed Me First, The Bitches, The Sewing Circle, X is Y, Fingered, Horoscope, Submit to Me Now, My Nightmare, Manhattan Loves Suicides, Submit to Me, and Death Valley 69 are shown in their uncut glory. As an extra we also get some bonus footage from a couple of the shorts to sweeten this sadistic little compilation.

Goodbye 42nd Street kicks off the set in appropriately sleazy fashion with some very cool shots of 42nd street when the Deuce was in its heyday in the mid-80’s. In between this stroll through one of the world’s most legendary streets are graphic scenes of murder (staged of course). The actors in these shorts – Lydia Lunch, Lung Leg, Nick Zedd, Audrey Rose and even Black Flag’s Henry Rollins all have such a wild over-the-top energy that I can only compare to the Dreamlanders from John Waters films. That must be why Waters digs Kern’s work so much.

Another eye-popping atrocity on this set that is noteworthy is Fingered. This one stars the oddly sexy and unforgettable, Lydia Lunch as a horny phone sex operator who hooks up with one of her callers. This features quite a bit of XXX action performed by Lunch and some epic finger-banging that soaks the hand of the gentleman thrusting away. This is one scenes where you could literally smell the sweat (amongst other bodily fluids) permeating the scuzzy apartment. Hand it to Kern, he has an atmosphere of filth that really looks beautifully photographed.

The Sewing Circle is a title that will stick in your mind once you’ve gotten through the excruciating seven minute running-time. This is pretty much Kern shooting a women getting her labia sewn together. Why? I do not know, but by the conclusion her meat curtains are closed and looking much more like a Venus fly trap. Ugh!! It’s outrageous and a normal occurrence on this set so you’ve been warned.

The films are improved very much in this restoration. They have the occasional pops and cracks but look clean and colorful. The extras on the disc are some additional footage not seen on previous releases and an excellent interview with the man himself, Richard Kern. He’s not what you’d expect at all. After watching the movies some expect to see a maniac because of the extreme content, but he’s actually a clean-cut regular Joe. Kern has some great stories. Would have loved a commentary but these supplements are generous enough.

What can I say other than wow. If you have a hankering for possibly the best compilation of short films assembled by a very talented artist – and are a little jaded The Films of Richard Kern is a must own. Highly Recommended!

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