Perhaps it's all Jerry Springer's fault. Can there be any other rational explanation as to why the trailer park has such a horrible reputation? For many, a doublewide dominion is the ultimate in portable home ownership. It represents affordable housing, convenient and customizable. For others, it symbolizes freedom and domesticity in one aluminum shell. Still, when anyone mentions the prefabricated porto-palaces, a septic tank of sleazy sentiments comes to mind: white trash skank whores, beer bellied good old boys with chewing tobacco stains on their flannel shirts, dirty, diaper-less children roaming around like rabid rats and the ever-present threat of tornados; whirlwinds poised to plow through the rental plots like the residents to the liquor store on payday. Truth is, most mobile home communities are clean, well cared for retirement villages, filled with lonely old people living out their final fiscal years in easy to maintain solitude. But thanks to the revisionist redneck ideal of home-style living – plus a decided bit of snobbery on the part of stuck-up suburban jackasses – trailer life is the country equivalent of the inner city ghetto without all the gang violence and slick fashion sense. In the current lexicon of living, the caravan concept is equivalent to rooting around in one's own filth, screwing your first cousin and ingesting a continuous diet of deep fat fried variety meats. Not that the movie Trailer Town disagrees. In Giuseppe Andrews' bizarre journal of outsider art, the local RV commons is a place for sordid, smutty, sinister shenanigans. In Trailer Town, everyone's an alcoholic. Everyone's a pervert. Everyone is sex obsessed and foul mouthed about it. And everyone is part of one of the most startling original and unreal cinematic experiences you'll ever sit through.
In Trailer Town, life is one big bewildering mess. We meet the following fetid residents of this redolent little enclave:
Billy is a disgruntled old drunk whose mind is completely caught up in beer and women. He has a brother named O Henry who likes to have sex with his own stool samples. Bill lives with Stanley, an athletic black man who wants to learn country and western dancing, hoping it will help him pick up chicks.
Walt Williamson and Long Dong Ron are business partners who spend their days drinking beer and their nights cruising for carnal knowledge. Walt is married but his wife constantly cheats on him. Walt seeks solace from a limbless woman who lives over by the Hong Kong Inn. Walt also pimps out Ron as a sex slave.
Ruth and tattooed Walter have become lovers since her husband's death. But she leaves him when she feels her emotions slipping away.
Bill discovers he and the rest of the residents of Trailer Town are being evicted. With the help of Stan, Walt, Ron, Ruth and Walter, they defend their domain from a ruthless security guard.
In order to fully appreciate the obtuse weirdness of Trailer Town, you first have to get a grip on director Giuseppe Andrew's unusual modus operandi. If you believe the explanations included as part of the DVD's supplements, Andrews begins by writing reams of dialogue, inspired insights into the poetic palaver of the seamy side of the world. Then he goes down to a local trailer park, rounds up real residents and sits them down in front of his digital camera. He feeds them dialogue and they repeat the lines as he catches their "performances" – raw, real and as they happen. Then he edits all the material into a quasi-narrative and presents his freak show findings as a film. Now, this is either the most inventive, genius device for the creation of a homemade movie in the history of moving pictures, or the biggest pile of amateurish shit you'll ever have to sit through. So surreal that it dips into the infinite space of eccentric and comes back pragmatic, about as weed whacking weird a film as you're likely to find, Trailer Town could be the crowning achievement in true independent picture production. It's a film that flaunts its lack of cinematic basics as it reinvents the art form's finite formulas. Lacking the merest mention of mise-en-scene (let's just call Andrews sequence structure mess-en-senseless and leave it at that) Andrews uses his compelling characters with their crass, crude vulgarity to explore the basic truths about life – mainly, that most people live lives of ranting, f**ked up desperation with a whisky chaser.
Watching Trailer Town, you experience what it must have felt like to see Godard's first new wave masterpiece, Fellini's initial dive into the grotesque or the crawl space under John Wayne Gacy's house. It is a film built on filth, foul language and a junior high school meets Penthouse Forum vocabulary for describing sex. So stylized you can easily outline the planned arcane aspects after the first 20 minutes, but so blatantly unique that you'll feel your in the presence of a monumental moment in motion picture history, Andrew's ode to offal is quite the quandary. You're never quite sure if you should laugh or puke, cry or cringe. We witness a man who "dates" and then "screws" his own feces, an elderly whore who strips and performs a stretch-mark enhanced nude mambo, and a wealth of the most gin soaked, beer blasted miscreants ever to dwell in Air Stream Hell. The hopelessness and helplessness of those he captures on video are guaranteed to tug at your grip on humanity. But when they start microwaving their frozen burritos in skid-marked underwear and discussing the finer points of "beaver shaving", you feel this film is really only about flaunting gross out gags for their toilet humor hijinx. Frankly, if John Waters or the Farrelly Brothers ever got a whiff of what this rancid crock is cooking, they'd run shrieking for the anarchy abattoir.
And still, Trailer Town is absolutely mesmerizing. It beings with a bang and continues down a cockeyed course of craziness until its fatalistic ending with its "I'm mad, drunk, depraved and dirty as Hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" philosophy. Forcing neo-realism to the point of inventive retardation and trading cinema vérité for skin flick straightforwardness, there are aspects of David Lynch, Street Trash and a smattering of Bum Fights (just for good measure) in this cracked character study. Light on plotting (there are some obvious soap opera-ish facets revolving around infidelity, eviction and addiction) and long on carnal caterwauling, Trailer Town is a savvy slice of life that should be sent back to the cosmic kitchen for being rotten and gamy. Andrews is opening up a window into a wicked world that not many of us want to witness and the stench is so overpowering that it hangs in the air like rancid egg farts. Minus motion picture prerequisites and slapped together like a dirty daydream, Andrews wants to use the most horrible aspects of the personal psyche to say something salient about the human condition. In his tiny trailer park cosmos, many have come to waste away their final years in a forged community built on common criminality and individual corruption. These are people forgotten by the rest of the world, relegated to garbage because of their desire to live in affordable and transportable housing. Buried somewhere in the piss-soaked liquor stained souls of these decomposing denizens lives the true spirit of America, not quite dead but pretty damn close to needing life support.
Cautious film fans should take heed – Andrews' antics will take a lot of getting used to. First, the entire film is subtitled, but not in a traditional way. Instead of simply highlighting the dialogue with a yellow scroll across the bottom of the screen, the director details the words within the full frame, using them as an additional artistic device to add dimension to the film. As an audience, your eye is immediately drawn to the words and you get the golden opportunity to read ahead, anticipating and/or dreading the next debauched line about to be delivered. In many ways, such a stylistic choice renders the entire film like a live action adult comic book, and with the mutant cast of characters here, the analogy is almost dead on. Andrews also loves natural light, never enhancing or toning down the brightness (or lack thereof) whenever it is available. When Bill discusses his brother's feces fetish on the phone, the sun behind him is so intense that it appears to envelop him, shining a shimmering halo of health all over a disgustingly dirty conversation. When Vietnam Ron and Walt talk trash about the infamous human torso girl who slinks around downtown (she is constantly mentioned but, sadly, we never see her) there's a back alley ambience to their conversation. This caught on tape, as it happens mentality infuses Trailer Town with a kind of snuff film essence that makes every scene a suspense-filled exploration of excess, constantly keeping the audience on its toes as to what can conceivably come next. Then when you see an old man stroking a strap-on dildo, you get that curiosity killed in one completely depraved depiction.
Most of Trailer Town feels like a series of dirty jokes gone heinously wrong. The humor is supposed to be derived from the sickening sexual comments and constant dick and pussy putdowns, but the result is more revolting than riotous. Even black soul man Stan, who seems to be channeling Rudy Ray Moore every chance he gets, can't make his foul mouthed foolishness resonate with humor. The missing spark is context. Without knowing very much about these characters (save for the kinky quirks Andrews gives them) and without much of a plot to meander in, they all appear like pathetic losers in the battle of the sexes, not c0nquering comic heroes. Even the standup comedy showdown that Bill and Stan enter into (it's some peculiar pastime these liquored up loads use to help the minutes drift by) should sizzle with sophomoric mania. But it never comes. Instead, it's like listening to a bunch of drunken desperate bums comparing non-existent nookie notes. With alcohol and sex the sole common denominator between these people (aside from their obvious financial and social status) what we end up with is a jaded, squalid look at the mucus-encrusted underbelly of life. And while one wishes it were funnier and/or more manic in its storyline drive, Trailer Town is a true original, something many independent filmmakers can't easily claim.
Indeed, for all its misgivings and manipulations, for all its exploitation and exploration, Trailer Town succeeds because it tries to introduce a new language to filmmaking. It offers a look at the art of film in the manner hinted at by modern motion picture forefathers like Francis Ford Coppola when they said the portable video camera would revolutionize cinema. Giuseppe Andrews is the Gen-X John Waters, a celebration of bad taste and sick sex shock value channeled through the most novice cinematic style ever captured on camera. His film is all editing and close-ups, non-sequitur dialogue and delusions of grandeur. Andrews may merely be taking us all for a rube ride with Trailer Town, using neighbors and unsuspecting park residents as pawns for his pathetic pathological pee-pee jokes, but it does take a lot of nerve to pawn off something this disturbed and delirious onto an unsuspecting audience. It's rare when a film can leave both your jaw permanently unhinged and your brain beautifully broiled, but Trailer Town does just that. It amazes as it attacks, resorting to any and all manner of malodorous machinations to get its vile, vicious point across. It is not always pleasant to look at or listen to, but Giuseppe Andrews announces himself as a completely untainted and brazenly unique original cinematic voice. And how many in or outside of Hollywood circa 2004 can make that claim?
Presented in a bright, clear 1.33:1 transfer, Trailer Town looks as homegrown as it feels. The use of existing light does give the proper mood and tone to the film, and Andrews' camerawork is inventive and artistic. Still, for those expecting a brilliant, pristine transfer, Trailer Town is a grainy, unfocused mess most of the time: elements that may argue for amateur status, but definitely define the artistic aesthetic here.
Solely relying on the available internal mic of the digital camera, the sonic attributes of Trailer Town are a bit sketchy. We can hear the voices all right, but we also are thankful for the subtitles that help clarify many of the muted or dropped out conversations in the film. Andrews also applies some friendly four-track music throughout the film and the score is captured in nice Dolby Digital Stereo clarity. Overall, the aural aspects are acceptable, if just a tad too off-the-cuff.
As part of Troma's treatment of this title, we get two interesting interviews with director Andrews. One is conducted by the Troma chief himself, Lloyd Kaufman. The other is part of a Q&A at a local film festival. Both times, Andrews comes across as self-deprecating and centered, and he speaks in universal platitudes about his artistic and cinematic intentions. One cannot deny some of the things he is saying (he is doing what so many other claim to want by putting his viewfinder where his aspirations are) and learning how he uses his trailer park pals is very informative. Still, when he talks about his affinity for mobile home living and his appreciation of the doublewide mentality, he pushes his credibility. Along with the additional example of his movie making excellence, Andrews instantly becomes a cult filmmaker to watch and obsess over.
As part of this DVD package, we are treated to the 60 minute bad taste masterpiece cleverly entitled Who Flung Poo?:
Poo is an artist who uses the crap of homeless people as paint to create mud-bloop masterpieces on frozen potpies. His girlfriend wants to have a baby so she can get involved in the lucrative pregnancy porn market. With the help of Poo's drunken probation officer and an adult filmmaker who's in his drug rehab course, Poo sees a potential fortune coming his way. But when the baby is born mid-production, all those XXX dreams are shattered. Poo must find a way to make money, and his drug-addled buddy with kiddie porn connections may be in the market for a newborn.
Perhaps an even better example of Andrews' strange style than Trailer Town, Who Flung Poo? seems like the film John Waters was trying to make with Polyester. Groovy, grotesque and giggle inducing, this is a funnier, more fetid take on the trailer park people Giuseppe uses to populate his films. Some of the same old faces are present in this tale of pornography and parenthood and there are several classically comic sequences. More fully realized than Trailer Town (again proving that if TT had a viable narrative, the entire enterprise would have skyrocketed into the realm of near perfect prurient parable) Who Flung Poo? is a laugh riot filled with great repeatable lines, a taboo busting storyline and some wonderfully weird characters. Even if the masked monkey man antics are left unexplained (Poo likes to roam around the city in an ape costume...or at least the head), and the infant in question is an obvious toy store doll, this is still a fantastic, fascinating film that's as deplorable as it is delightful.
Troma also tosses in a few of their standard merchandising moments as well as a weird mini-documentary about Adam Jahnke: ex-Troma employee and professional party pooper. Discussing his work with Lloyd and the company during Tromadance (which may explain, somewhat, the connection to this DVD since Trailer Town won an award at that festival) this is basically one bitter young man spouting off about the degenerate behavior of film festival volunteers. It's interesting, but Jahnke's jaded persona grows old very quickly.
For years now, Crispin Glover, that truly demented demigod of the cinematically strange has been working obsessively on his own private universe of motion picture perversity. Called What Is It? and featuring a cast made up entirely of people with Down's Syndrome, it's a whispered about entity of such warped wackiness that many consider it to be some ominous outward sign of Mr. Glover's increasing disconnection from the rest of the human population. In a very similar vein, young Hollywood actor Giuseppe Andrews (whose been in Independence Day as Randy Quaid's youngest son and also starred in the horror film Cabin Fever) has decided to abandon the precepts of normal filmmaker and take an outsider stance towards his art. Using found material and actors, mixing in a kind of teenage disregard for sexual situations and cranking up the peculiar profanity to make his perverted points, Trailer Town is a true cinematic rarity: an original voice captured in a totally individualistic style. Andrews and his camper company are at the forefront of a completely novel moviemaking idiom. Not only is it a wake-up call to all commercial crap, but it also spews its feces–filled, inebriated facade over all other so-called "independent" films. Trailer Town is the shape of things to come and represents the spitting, stinking image of self-created cinema. And the silhouette looks mighty malformed from here.
Want more Gibron Goodness?
Come to Bill's TINSEL TORN REBORN Blog (Updated Frequently) and Enjoy! Click Here