Trash Humpers

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Trash Humpers
Directed by Harmony Korine
Produced by Agnès b.
Charles-Marie Anthonioz
Amina Dasmal
Robin Fox
Written by Harmony Korine
Starring Rachel Korine
Brian Kotzur
Travis Nicholson
Harmony Korine
Cinematography Harmony Korine
Edited by Leo Scott
Distributed by Drag City
Release dates
  • September 12, 2009 (2009-09-12) (TIFF)
Running time
78 minutes
97 minutes[1] (2010)
Country United States
Language English

Trash Humpers is a 2009 experimental surrealist art-house dark comedy-drama horror film written and directed by Harmony Korine. Shot on worn VHS home video, the film features a "loser-gang cult-freak collective"[2] living in Nashville, Tennessee.


The film follows the lives of a group of sociopathic elderlies living in Nashville, Tennessee "who do antisocial things in a non-narrative way."


  • Rachel Korine as Momma
  • Brian Kotzur as Buddy
  • Travis Nicholson as Travis
  • Harmony Korine as Hervé


Walking his dog late at night in the back alleys of his hometown of Nashville, Korine encountered trash bins strewn across the ground in what he imagined as a war zone. Overhead lights beamed down upon the trash in a Broadway-style that Korine found very dramatic. They began to resemble human form, beaten, abused and “very humpable.”[3] Korine remembered, as a teenager growing up in Nashville, a group of elderly peeping toms who would come out at night. He has described them as "the neighborhood boogeymen who worked at Krispy Kreme and would wrap themselves in shrubbery, cover themselves with dirt, and peep through the windows of other neighbors."[4] Putting these two ideas together, Korine found conception for the film.

As a child of the 1980s, Korine grew in the age of VHS. He remembers his first camera, given to him by his father, and reusing the tape over and over again. “There was something interesting about certain images or scenes bubbling up to the surface.”[5] On the rationale for using VHS as the medium for Trash Humpers, Korine stated “There’s this obsession nowadays with technology and the fact that everything looks so clear. Everything needs to be so high-definition. There was a strange beauty in the analog. You almost have to squint to see things through the grain and the mist. There’s something sinister about it.”[3]

Upset over the bureaucracy in producing his last and most expensive feature, Mister Lonely, Korine aimed to make his next film as fast as he could, analogous to the free-form immediacy of painter and canvas.[3] As a self-proclaimed "mistakist artist", Korine encouraged spontaneity. Like Julien Donkey-Boy, the script was merely a collection of written down ideas. Before filming, Korine shot lo-fi images of people in costumes late at night to help find his aesthetic.[citation needed]

Filming lasted only a couple of weeks. “Once everyone was in their character and their costume, and I had figured out the structure of it, the randomness, the anti-aesthetic, it was really the performers, the Trash Humpers, walking around at night, videotaping each other doing these things,”[6] Korine recalled. "We would just walk around and sleep under bridges or behind a strip mall somewhere. We’d get these big tractor tires and make a nest to sleep in."[3] Korine adds, “it was pretty intense because there were no breaks. It was just constant.[6] Korine says that he didn't think traditionally about scenes, sounds, or color during filming, but more about being true to a feeling. "If it feels right to me. If there is some strong, palpable, raw quality in the moment then I won't question it."[4] Korine himself plays as one of the Trash Humpers, simultaneously taking on the role of actor, cinematographer, and director.

Korine cut the film on two VCRs to instill an approximate randomness. "I wanted a kind of incidental awkwardness, like maybe the guy taping it had turned it off and on."[3] Korine often cites that in creation of the film he aimed to mimic a found object or artifact. He even flirted with the idea of “leaving the film on a sidewalk somewhere”[3] to be unearthed at random, but ultimately decided he would claim ownership.

At the film’s premiere in Toronto, Korine informed the audience that the title was to be taken quite literally and those likely to walk out were given due warning. Aware of his status as the provocateur, Korine understands his movies aren’t for everyone. “That’s why I named it Trash Humpers, because I didn’t want to fool anyone.”[5] There were only four months between filming started and the world premiere.[6]

For Korine, Trash Humpers is an elaborate portrait of the "American Landscape" : a series of "park garages, back alleyways, and beautiful lamp posts that light up the gutter." Korine has repeatedly emphasized his use of street lamps and how they are for him deeply representative of America.[4]

Korine sees the film as an ode to vandalism. "I have a real deep love and admiration for these characters. Not for what they do, but for the way they do it."[3] "There can be a creative beauty in their mayhem and destruction. You could say these characters are poets or mystics of mayhem… comedic with a vaudevillian horror."[7] Korine wondered "whether this might make mainstream society envious of their social freedom."[4]


The film received mixed and polarized reviews with Rotten Tomatoes showing an average rating of 5 out of 10 with 32 reviews (as of September 13, 2014).[8]

Rob Nelson of Variety remarked that the film is highly unlikely to gratify all audiences, and questioned what its notability would have been without the director's "hipster celebrity." However, intrigued by the film, he commented the cinematography as having "no small share of perverse beauty, particularly for those who miss the charming imperfections of videocassettes in this squeaky-clean digital era."[9]

The film won the DOX Award at the Copenhagen International Documentary Festival in November 2009.[citation needed]


The soundtrack to the film was released by Drag City on 7" in a limited run of 500 copies, with each sleeve "hand-filthed" and signed by director Harmony Korine.

  1. "Trashy Torch Song Lullaby" (1:21)
  2. "Rumble" (0:22)
  3. "Night Time" (1:16)
  4. "Three Little Devils" (0:50)
  5. "Chitshit" (0:49)
  6. "Kitchen Strangulation" (2:07)
  7. "You Girls Juss Suck Large Fat Penis" (5:06)
  8. "Sweet Night" (0:51)
  9. "Sleep My Darlin" (2:11)


  1. ^ "TRASH HUMPERS (18)". British Board of Film Classification. 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2013-04-13. 
  2. ^ Renninger, Bryce (2009-08-06). "11 More for Toronto (including Harmony Korine)." IndieWire. Retrieved on 2009-08-06.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Ebiri, Bilge. (2009-10-09). "Harmony Korine on How Fatherhood Influenced His New Movie About Having Sex With Garbage Cans." New York Magazine. Retrieved on 2009-10-21.
  4. ^ a b c d Treihaft, Lauren; Brooks, Brian (2009-09-17). "Harmony Korine: 'I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t like provoking an audience'." IndieWire. Retrieved on 2009-09-19.
  5. ^ a b Bilton, Chris. (2009-09-14). "Interview: Harmony Korine." Eye Weekly. Retrieved on 2009-10-21.
  6. ^ a b c Tully, Michael (2009-09-16). "A Conversation With Harmony Korine." Hammer to Nail. Retrieved on 2009-09-19.
  7. ^ Kohn, Eric. (2009-09-30). "His Humps." New York Press. Retrieved on 2009-10-21.
  8. ^ [1]. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on Sept 13, 2014.
  9. ^ Nelson, Rob (2009-09-16). "Trash Humpers Review." Variety. Retrieved on 2009-11-08.

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