Thursday, October 25, 2012

Combat Shock

Combat Shock (American Nightmares) Directed by Buddy Giovinazzo. Starring Ricky G. (1984).
    Troma has a surly reputation for buying up trash, churning out sewage and spewing out underrated treasures without anyone noticing. Many of them are worth your time, but get caught in the tuna net of scum or eclipsed by the massive output of diarrhea.
    I first saw American Nightmares waay before Combat Shock in high school (1990). Combat Shock is the truncated version of Buddy G's film school thesis and I never saw that cut until my good friend Skunkape graciously mailed me the pristine Troma (Criterion style) remastered edition. The only difference I could tell was that they added Nam stock footage and the drawn out beginning was shorter, which sped up the pace along better. Buddy G. is vastly ahead of his time as a filmmaker (that people are still unfamiliar with and should know his work)! If you need further confirmation see his equally violent and nihilistic “Life is Hot In Cracktown”. Frankie (played by Ricky G.) is a struggling vet who lives in a bombed out apartment with a ventilator constantly running (one of the many tributes to Eraserhead). His ugly wife is constantly bitching at him and his Agent Orange afflicted child will not stop crying. Right from the moment he awakes from a flashback into a vicious reality nightmare, we are doomed from the start. The socio-economic climate today on the surface is better (everyone has a computer on their phone, everyone can access instant movies), but not much has changed. Staten Island at the time served the storyline perfectly to convey the bleakness and hopelessness. It looked like a warzone (on the commentary with Nekromantik director Jorge Buttgerit, Buddy mentions how the city complained how it was portrayed). This film has aged well with time and comes off more prophetic then dated. Frankie walks around endlessly around the garbage infested wilderness like a zombie. The casio soundtrack is oddly infectious and performed by Ricky G.
    When Frankie finally does snap and all events directly lead to a boiling point you can’t blame him. An acid trip like effect is used to project jungle footage over his face (making it almost a no budget 2001:A Space Odyssey tribute). You never can identify with him once he crosses over and kills his family, shoves his child in the oven takes it out and cradles it while drops of gore spill on his Keds. You are not allowed to identify with him, but you can’t help feel empathy for his wasted existence as a thrown away tin foil soldier. Drug kingpin “Paco” and his henchmen who run the streets are pathetically menacing (one looks like Zach Galifianakis in Asian gear). Eddie Pepitone (future Sara Silverman background actor) and Mike the junkie, scutter around like drug infested vermin. Mike cuts open his vein with a hanger, pours in a packet of drug powder and O.D.’s.
   During this time, Reagan was in charge, Chuck Norris and Rambo were kicking ass on the silver screen. And of course mental health issues and post traumatic stress were ignored or not taken seriously. Things haven’t changed much in that context for today’s  society. How can I justify my review of this tape without mentioning the brilliance of The Father, Son and Holy Ghost video the holy grail of retarded  metal videos! After the depressing film the music videos are a welcome addition. Also included are the insanely entertaining short works of Buddy G. (also on the DVD) and the horrifically chipper/ cryptic songs of Buddy and Ricky G’s band Circus 2000 A.D.!! They sound like a combination of Billy Joel and Devo! I couldn't live with myself if I didn’t mention that brilliance!
Check out the rare In the Name of video (that I thought was directed by Buddy G. but wasn't) ((LINK))
and Troma's cut of Combat Shock. Watch Here
Circus 2000 Vid

Mutant Baby

Psychedelic freakout!

I go back every night without fail

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