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quietearth [Film Festival 11.05.09] movie review experimental

Year: 2009
Directors: Harmony Korine
Writers: Harmony Korine
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Hal MacDermot
Rating: 8.8 out of 10

Right. Trash Humpers is a snapped work of brilliance and you will either be blown away or absolutely hate it. For me, the earth moved. Korine’s movie was shot on VHS and edited on VHS machines, and in the director’s own words, it’s like a piece of “found footage,” like some kind of crazy old VHS tape “you find in a ziploc bag in the attic.” The grainy analogue look immediately creates a scary marginal aura that’s more effective than several million dollars of CGI. Tell you what, if I found one of those tape in my attic I’d be well jumpy.

There is no story to this whacked out vision of the underclass, but there are a series of amazing scenes. Two old guys and an old woman in monster masks are walking around under bridges, by rubbish heaps, by freeways, in deserted dirt spaces, and they are doing anything that comes into their low life minds. They spend a lot of time trying to have sex with trash bins and plants. Seriously, a lot of time. They are also dedicated to smashing TVs (good), derelict houses and neon strip lights. Murder, yes, yes, they do all of that too. Baby abduction? Yup. The delinquent oldsters never really say much, they just do Beavis and Butthead meets Mr. Hanky noises, except for the woman who sings, which is indeed a spooky event. Bare in mind that Korine is the chap who brought us Gummo and Kids. Both powerful and disturbing films. True, they are not everyone’s cup of tea, but you can’t deny this is a guy with an original vision and great talent.

In the Q & A after the movie, Korine said that he was trying to make his film like “something you would like in the trash.” You know, I’ll bet you Charles Bukowski would have loved this film, but I’ll bet you that tons of people who read Bukowski, at least the artsy ones, will say things like “oh this is such a vulgar film blahblah meaningless armpits blah blah.” Or words to that effect. Give me a shot of whiskey and to hell with them, I hear Bukowski cry. John Waters would have liked the film too, back in his Divine gourmet days. Meanwhile, back in the room, Korine talked about the process of making this film, which sounds brilliant. Basically, they lived outside under bridges and by the side of the road, for about two weeks. When they woke up, they would go film whatever got in the way, hump trash, knock on doors, anything that was there. There was no script. It was dangerous and dirty, but that was all part of the rush.

Korine’s last film was Mister Lonely (2007) which has Werner Herzog in it. Here’s the summary “A Michael Jackson lookalike is invited by a Marilyn Monroe lookalike to a commune in Scotland which is inhabited entirely by celebrity impersonators.” I’m not sure if the film lives up to the synopsis, but I mean, wow, just wow. The director explained that Mister Lonely was fun to make:

“but it took way too long, it felt like I was getting my head chopped off, or my knees broken. I want to be able to make something creative right away, and that’s what we did with Trash Humpers. The idea came to me one night when I took my dog for a walk, under the lights, I saw all these trash dumpsters and it looked like they’d been raped. Also, we had a neighbor who used to film himself having sex and he would fling the tapes in the trash.”

Fair enough, that’s what I’m saying. I suppose I could write some tedious tract on the political significance of this film, “..alienation... brutalized margin ... consumer armpits... ” but wait, if I did that I might have to saw my own head off in order to stay awake, so I won’t. What I will do is recommend this bizarre, unsettling, funny and original film to you. But it does come with a health warning: this is one of the most insane things I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of crazy stuff.

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projectcyclops (12 years ago) Reply

Is it true Korine told people to leave the cinema if they were inclined to walk out of movies? Good old Joe Cornish of Adam & Joe did a mini review on their radio show.

Great review btw, will have to check this out based on title and reputation alone :)


Anonymous (12 years ago) Reply

It looks so much like a Giuseppe Andrews film. Not that its a bad thing


Hal (12 years ago) Reply

yes it is true, he did say that, he invited them too, which I thought was great. A handfull left, but after about 20 moins


joe (12 years ago) Reply



Ben Austwick (12 years ago) Reply

This is the film I regretted missing most at the London Film Festival. Glad to hear it lives up to its insane premise, I'm really looking forward to seeing it.


Anonymous (12 years ago) Reply

I'm with Joe...terrible ****ing review and where's the ****ing trailer?


Hot Fuzz (12 years ago) Reply

I think some of you are missing the point. The reviewer isn't actually, literally saying that John Waters would have liked the film and therefore it's "cool". He's just using a cute way to liken the film to early John Waters or the writing of Bukowski.

Not a bad thing to do considering "Trash Humpers" is not easily describable.


Marina (12 years ago) Reply

Korine lost my attention when he referred to himself as the greatest american filmmaker working today (or something close to that affect). I didn't like his films before and now I'm even less inclined to watch anything new.


Anonymous (12 years ago) Reply

actually marina, he said he considers himself to be one of the most "american" filmmakers working today in terms of his subject matter

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