|Directed by||Harmony Korine|
|Produced by||Agnès b.
|Written by||Harmony Korine|
|Edited by||Leo Scott|
|Distributed by||Drag City|
97 minutes (2010)
Trash Humpers is a 2009 experimental black 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" living in Nashville, Tennessee.
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The movie opens with multiple shots of the old gang members masturbating to trash. This continues as a recurring sequence throughout the film.
These gang members are mostly male. One old lady is amongst them. She masturbates significantly less than the men, if at all. Other old lady or two enters a few brief scenes later on.
We get a glimpse into the home of the elderly thugs. The living room is squalid, and the old people lie around or dance through it and rant and rave about various meaningless topics. The kitchen, however, is clean.
Various members of the antisocial gang are shown trespassing, partaking in vandalism, and breaching the peace. They commit a great deal of antisocial crimes.
A few of the elderly nutcases are seen on a basketball court in broad daylight. A small fat boy with little rectangular spectacles tries and miserably fails to "shoot hoops". Every time he misses (which is, for the record, literally every time), the old people laugh and jeer at him.
As the old people relax and lie down. The old lady sits on a wheelchair and cheers him on as the child describes hitting the doll with a hammer, before aggressively doing so. This shows a recurring theme of psychotic violence driven by peer pressure, and the ritualistic antics in which the gang collectively partakes.
Briefly, a scene is played out involving the old lady on a small tricycle, dragging the beaten doll behind her by a string attached to the back of the bike. This is seen in greater detail towards the end of the film.
An old man drags himself along the ground as the old lady, again, sits in her wheelchair. She instructs the fat kid on how to hide a razor blade in an apple and screeches with joy at the thought of their pain. The gang members display a strong, recurring theme of taking sadistic pleasure in the suffering of others. We later learn that other people have hurt the gang through societal standards and expectations and actively attempt to oppress their freedom of self.
Later in the film, we see them ranting and making pancakes in the kitchen, chanting "make it make it, don't fake it". The scene changes to the dark living room, which also features a dining table. Two old men sit across from each other, both wearing hats that are connected by a large pipe. They do not take these hats off and remain connected throughout the scenes in which they feature. The old lady serves them pancakes, screams at them for a short time period, and then instructs an old shouting man to liberally apply dish soap to the pancakes. The hat men are henceforth forced to eat the pancakes. They do not appear to mind.
The movie is peppered with more scenes of the gang masturbating to, and literally humping, trash.
An old man, clad in only a confederate flag t-shirt, humps a tree.
The gang sits out on the porch and talks of freedom and the demons in the night. An old man jerks off in the corner. Nobody really cares.
The gang hires three plus-size prostitutes. In a line, they bend over on the bed in their underwear while the old people walk back and forth and tap the prostitutes' butts as they pass. Occasionally, one drums on their butt before moving on. The prostitutes lie on the bed and cheer while one of the men sings and tap dances in the corner. Another man masturbates to this. That man is then shown sitting in the tap dancing corner in his wheelchair, while the prostitutes sit around him, sing "Silent Night", and rub his crotch.
The gang go out for a walk. They sing songs, particularly "Three Little Devils", and are shown standing still under a bridge, doing nothing, as the water flows by. At night, a man in a french maid costume gives a sort of sermon, which ends in an expression of his hearty enthusiasm for fornicating with trash.
This man appears to die in the next scene. The men wearing hats sit around him, apparently mourning.
Another old man sits in a chair and plays a twangy rendition of an apparently original song, which he entitles "You Girls Sure Suck Large Fat Penis". This has been critically acclaimed as "A stirring, soulful ballad ironically protesting the sexual objectification of women by Western society!" by a YouTube user. Their statement has caused a minute confusion, as the only lyrics are those in the song title.
As the film commences, the rants of the gang members grow more bitter. They express their hatred, their pain, their fear, their lack of belief in magic. A man lies on the bed, talks about drugs, and blows a trumpet.
Toward the end, the gang goes for a bike ride. The woman is continuously singing "Three Little Devils". They all drag dolls behind them, tied to the back of the bicycles. The dolls appear to symbolize ordinary people, and the bikes society; they are simply dragged through life with no say. By mounting the bicycles, not only are the gang members taking charge, they also obtain the opportunity to exercise the control that societal expectations hold.
Integrated with this are scenes of a night time car ride; the old people split into two car pools. A man in one car talks of society - this is when the symbolism of their actions grows coherent - and the power it holds over people, and the way they live is in a state of true freedom from its clutches.
- 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.” 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." 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.” 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.”
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. 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.
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,” 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." Korine adds, “it was pretty intense because there were no breaks. It was just constant. 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." 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." 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” 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.” There were only four months between filming started and the world premiere.
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.
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." "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." Korine wondered "whether this might make mainstream society envious of their social freedom."
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).
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."
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.
- "Trashy Torch Song Lullaby" (1:21)
- "Rumble" (0:22)
- "Night Time" (1:16)
- "Three Little Devils" (0:50)
- "Chitshit" (0:49)
- "Kitchen Strangulation" (2:07)
- "You Girls Sure Suck Large Fat Penis" (5:06)
- "Sweet Night" (0:51)
- "Sleep My Darlin" (2:11)
- "TRASH HUMPERS (18)". British Board of Film Classification. 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2013-04-13.
- Renninger, Bryce (2009-08-06). "11 More for Toronto (including Harmony Korine)." IndieWire. Retrieved on 2009-08-06.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bilton, Chris. (2009-09-14). "Interview: Harmony Korine." Eye Weekly. Retrieved on 2009-10-21.
- Tully, Michael (2009-09-16). "A Conversation With Harmony Korine." Hammer to Nail. Retrieved on 2009-09-19.
- Kohn, Eric. (2009-09-30). "His Humps." New York Press. Retrieved on 2009-10-21.
- . Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on Sept 13, 2014.
- Nelson, Rob (2009-09-16). "Trash Humpers Review." Variety. Retrieved on 2009-11-08.