Trash Humpers Harmony Korine

Trash Humpers Harmony Korine
As one awful trash humper fornicates with a large dumpster, another shrieks, "Get that trash pussy." This is the Harmony Korine film that has forced even the bottom-line focussed Variety to fold their hands and admit that cinema's foremost enfant terrible must be more than just a tasteless provocateur, and that he's made a film "riveting beyond all rationality." So what is Trash Humpers exactly? Korine's "ode to vandalism" appears to be shot and edited using battered VHS tapes. Cretinous ghouls in realistic monster masks hump inanimate objects, drink heavily and even steal a baby. Mostly it aims to grate on the nerves. The nonsense refrain "Make it, make it, don't fake it," is constant. This is occasionally replaced with a "Suck it, suck it, don't fuck it," just to keep you guessing. An overweight child smashes a toy doll with a hammer, laughing like a maniac and repeating "I told ya I'd kill it"; vaudeville acts from hell lay it on thick and nasty; the lady trash humper teaches us how to put a razor blade in an apple. But even amidst all this repulsive imagery, there are moments of strange beauty, like the obese, nude prostitutes singing a haunting version of Silent Night. A surrealist poet recites a piece that suggests the lowest and the ugliest people like the THers were created by all of us. So the trash humpers fracture his skull and say, "Ya done kilt him good." No big deal to the humpers, they go back to gently fellating some tree branches and fingering their anuses on the dreary streets of rural Nashville. And yet they are a complex group of monsters, complete with crying jags and tender moments. They laugh fondly at each other's jokes and are alternately kind or vicious to the other creeps they encounter. They even love to dance. Foul as they are, these aren't one-note trash humpers. Their apparent mission statement is spoken by a masked Korine, who spends most of the film behind the camcorder singing murder-themed nursery rhymes. While driving through the suburbs, he delivers a long speech that ends on a note of murderous spite: "Sometimes when I drive through these streets at night, I can smell the pain of all these people. I can smell how these people are just trapped in their lives. They don't see much. Sometimes they get lost in it… I never quite understand why people would choose to live that way. That's a stupid way to live. A stupid, stupid, stupid way to live." The trash humpers may reject suburban atrophy, but their degeneracy is an unwelcome reflection of it. Norman Mailer wrote something in 1981 that directly applies: "The underlying horror may be that we all inhabit the swollen tissues of a body politic that is drenched in bad conscience, so bad indeed that the laugh of the hyena reverberates from every TV set, and is in danger of becoming our true national anthem. We are all so guilty at the way we have allowed the world around us to become more ugly and tasteless every year that we surrender to terror and steep ourselves in it." So here is Harmony Koran's finest film — a deep and troubling commentary on the decay of contemporary civilization, or perhaps just an outlet for Korine's warped sense of humour. Either way, it's the most direct expression of his warm, miserable aesthetic. After a year on the festival circuit it's finally available to the masses on DVD. Surprisingly it comes with impressive extras including 17 minutes of cut footage as good as the film proper, an excellent short film of a trash humper in Havana, and 27 minutes of conjoined-twin dildo comedy that I wouldn't recommend. (Drag City)