How can you really sum up GG Allin? Some found a legitimate social context to his 'performance art' while others considered him the lowest of the low. Prone to starting fights with audience members, defecating and urinating in public and into the public, exhibiting insanely self destructive behavior both on and off the stage, and threatening to kill himself in front of his audience more than a few times.
Hated: GG Allin And The Murder Junkies is a documentary on the man, his life and death, his musical legacy (if you can call it that) and his impact on those who knew him and those who had to deal with him. Made as a student film project by Todd Phillips, who would go on to specialize in goofball humor movies like Old School and Road Trip, the camera follows GG around in a semi casual manner, interspersing the interview segments with footage from his concerts, interviews with his friends, family, and band members, and clips from his appearance on Geraldo.
Clocking in at roughly fifty-minutes, it's a fascinating look into a sick mind. While some may not find it too difficult to stomach when stunt footage from Steve-O and the Jackass crew is so readily available in an uncut form complete with testicular stapling and more poop flinging than you can shake a stick at, GG mixes his vile behavior not with comedic frat boy humor but with pure, unadulterated hatred for everyone and everything he encounters. And the scary thing is, as far as anyone can tell, it's not an act.
Some of the segments are amusing. A few of his family members and friends have interesting anecdotes about the late singer, especially his brother Merle, who sports a nice Hitler moustache. The segments from Geraldo are priceless, with Allin more than happy to shock the audience with his life views, philosophies, and of course, his tattoos. A few news clips are also mixed in to give some context to the repercussions that occurred during and after his shows, most of which ended with violence and/or police intervention.
Some footage from his funeral is also included towards the end of the feature, which despite Allin's spiteful and repulsive persona is oddly somber and even a little bit pathetic. Which leads to the biggest flaw in the production - there's not really enough information on GG given during it's brief running time. What is there is good and quite interesting but some more information on his life and how he became the fiend he was could have pushed the documentary from interesting to fascinating.
That issue notwithstanding however, Hated is a powerful and messed up movie about a total anomaly of a man. Philips does a good job of remaining impartial to his subject, neither judging him or praising him in his film, merely letting the man and his actions speak for themselves. Love him or hate him, there was only one GG Allin, and that's probably a good thing.
The documentary was shot on low quality 16mm film stock by a college student film, so if you're expecting a high gloss presentation, well, look elsewhere. A low budget and less then ideal lighting conditions can, at times, make the movie look a little worse for wear. Overall though, you can almost always tell what's going on just fine. Some of the concert footage looks pretty rough and is fairly dark, but as it stands, this transfer is far superior to the VHS releases that have made the rounds prior to this version and the transfer itself is done well with no real compression or edge enhancement problems. In comparison to MVD's previous DVD release, there are no really obvious differences and it's probably safe to assume that this is the same transfer.
The previous release of Hated was presented in a Dolby Digital Stereo track, whereas this new one contains that same Stereo track alongside a remixed 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound track. Aside from a little surround action during the live scenes, there's not much difference here between the stereo track of yesteryear versus this fancy new Surround Mix. Dialogue is almost always nice and clear and again, with the exception of some of the concert footage, which is a bit rough despite the remixing, everything sounds reasonably good here.
First up, as far as the extra features go, are a pair of newly recorded commentary tracks, the first of which is with director Todd Phillips. Todd talks about how he got in touch with GG in the first place, the significance of John Wayne Gacy, and what it was like shooting some of the live clips for the film. Todd talks about how Merle was difficult to wrangle and how it was hard to get him to show up at the right place at the right time, and he points out the fact that it's easy to 'fuck around with the documentary format' by discussing the first interview he did with GG where he was drunk, and how he got into an argument and eventually got kicked out. Eventually, Phillips filmed GG in his own dorm room pretending it was the St. Mark's Hotel. He goes on to talk about the shoot, discusses the various people who are interviewed for the film, and how he had to pitch his documentary to the administration of the school where he studied film. Todd talks about how various people who were interviewed reacted to the film, and how time has changed the impact of information and of marketing one's film. All in all, it's a pretty interesting and fairly opinionated commentary track that lends some interesting insight into how this project was put together.
The second commentary tracks features Merle and Dino and for some reason the levels on this one are ridiculously high. A lot of this track is just the pair commenting on what's happening on screen, talking about GG's antics and pointing out various background players who appear in the film. They talk about how 'Chicken John' is technically their founding father (they say he was in Depeche Mode, making a dig on his hair!) and they rag on Geraldo for a bit. Merle plugs Fine Line Tattoos in New York City, and along they way they tell a few interesting stories about the time they spent with GG, discussing in a fair bit of depth his pledge to kill himself in front of an audience. This track is a bit disjointed but it's completely worth listening to just to hear the stories from the horses' mouths so to speak. These guys were there, they knew Allin intimately, and they're not afraid to talk about him.
Aside from the commentary tracks, new to this disc is an interview with Merle and Dino (his mullet a lovely shade of neon green!) who talk about how GG started as a drummer and how they started their first band in their mid-teens which was influenced by British Invasion rock like The Monkees! From there they cover his debut album and the very different image that he had when that record landed compared to where he would go with his performances. Dino and Merle talk about different people who were in the various bands alongside GG and GG's place in the various groups that were formed. Merle dominates the conversation and talks about the different styles that GG's different bands had and how his hardcore and loyal following tend to not really give preference to one project over another, they seem to just like it all. A few live clips are haphazardly inserted into the interview which runs for an hour and five minutes in total.
Up next is a selection of Live Videos, most of which were shot under pretty rough conditions on handheld camcorders and as such, don't look so hot. There's eleven minutes worth of material here, three songs are performed all the way through, and if you're familiar with GG's live act, you'll know what to expect - blood, sweat, and nastiness.
An interview with GG's Mom (3:32) is also included, where she talks about how GG's father had a vision when he was born and how GG's birth was a controversial one in that the nurses, doctors and ministers in the hospital scolded her. She tells why she dubbed her new son Jesus Christ, and how Merle mispronounced Jesus Christ as GG, which is how he got the name. She refers to GG as Kevin throughout the interview and comes across as a nice, sweet lady. She also considers what her son did as trailblazing and speaks quite highly of him.
Rounding out the extra features on the disc are the Cover Art Contest animated slideshow which showcases the entries that were submitted by fans, animated menus, and chapter stops.
Inside the keepcase are three inserts - the first is an offer to get your very own copy of John Wayne Gacy's painting of GG Allin in poster form, the second is a small fold out booklet containing the entries from the cover art contest (interesting to see that more than a few portray Allin as Christ!) and the third is a slip containing four temporary tattoos that replicate some of Allin's own skin art.
Unfortunately, MVD gives completists a reason to hold onto the previous DVD as they haven't included the raw footage of GG's last day on Earth where we see him perform, get chased by cops, then go and score some drugs. While to some this might not seem like a big deal, it's historically very significant to his fans and it certainly made for an interesting curiosity piece. A shame then that it wasn't carried over from the last release.
It's a damn shame that MVD didn't carry over the 'GG's Last Day' footage from the previous release as the other supplements contained on this re-release really do make it worth the upgrade for fans. Audio and video quality might not be so hot but that doesn't make the documentary any less interesting. Fans of the bizarre and of anti-culture can consider Hated: GG Allin And The Murder Junkies recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.