Shotguns fired: two. Dicks tattooed with Jesus: one. ‘Fucks’ uttered: too many to count.
Back in the nihilistic ’90s, when moral guardians fumed over the violence of Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, a very different kind of rebels-on-the-run movie swerved out of leftfield.
The second in the so-called ‘teenage apocalypse trilogy’ (bridging 1993’s Totally F***ed Up and 1997’s Nowhere), The Doom Generation sees Queer Cinema poster boy Gregg Araki taking a girl and two guys on a surreal road trip across the US.
“It was a reaction to the cookie-cutter teen movies of the time,” says Araki in an affable 25-minute interview. “I describe it as my Nine Inch Nails movie.
I was in a very confused, angry, Nine Inch Nails-y kind of place in my life.” It’s easy to sympathise. Living in the ’90s was a pretty confusing experience all round.
Kurt Cobain was so depressed he sucked a shotgun. Bez from Happy Mondays did so many disco biscuits he had a permagrin. Was nihilism or hedonism in? The Doom Generation captures that schizo feel as potty-mouthed amy (Rose McGowan) and her boyfriend Jordan (James Duval) pick up a roguish drifter Xavier (Johnathon Schaech, doing a decent Billy Zane impersonation).
Pretty soon they’re mixed up in murder and mayhem, but spend most of their efforts on bonking each other senseless. It’s so crazed it makes Wild At Heart look like a Disney flick.
Wryly billed as “a heterosexual movie by Gregg Araki” (who returned to similar terrain with last year’s relatively milder Kaboom), it’s actually more bi-curious than hetero. or, as the filmmaker himself puts it on the yak track, it’s “the gayest possible straight movie ever made.”
Memorable scenes include Xavier spying on his friends humping in the bath while jerking off, then licking the sticky results from his fingers in unflinching close-up.
US critic Roger Ebert was so appalled by this “road murder sex comedy” he gave the film no stars (this from the man who scripted Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls).
Today, though, it seems utterly camp; an Andy Warhol road movie for the post-punk, mid-grunge generation, and Ebert’s outrage makes as much sense as calling Flesh For Frankenstein a snuff movie.
Listen to the hilarious commentary, which reunites the three leads and director, and you understand the tone they were going for: totally f***ked up, but also fucking funny.