Monday, January 30, 2012

Teenage Caveman (2002)

Directed by Larry Clark 
Starring Andrew Keegan, Tara Subkoff, Richard Hillman, Tiffany Limos

“I hate outside.”

Despite the fact that it's packed wall to wall with teen sex antics and hinky splatter, Teenage Caveman was produced for TV as part of an ultra low-budget series of late-night Cinemax snacks delivered by infamous B-movie mogul Sam Arkoff (who, coincidentally, croaked the same year this was released). I am unsure what other films, if any, were made for this series. I am also unsure whether this was meant  to be a remake of Roger Corman's Teenage Caveman (1958), since I have not seen that particular teenflick, although I do sorta doubt it was also about a post-apocalyptic sex cult. The only thing I am sure of is that this is one seriously whacked-out piece of work, a softcore/gore mash-up so wobbly and weird that it almost passes for outsider art.

The first part of the film justifies the title. Sort of. There are, in fact, a group of teenagers living in a cave. It's after the fall of man, and a hard-scrabble group of survivors live together as a rag-wearing, expletive-spewing tribe just outside of Seattle. They learn to read by studying old issues of Penthouse Forum, and the leader of the gang is, of course, a corrupt perv who continually tells his flock they must abstain from sex while secretly banging the hottest tribe members, because god told him to.  Annoyed because his tribal leader dad tries to god-rape his girlfriend Sara (Tara Subkoff, Freeway, who was actually 30 when she made this), brooding teen rebel David (Andrew Keegan, 10 Things I Hate About You), stabs his father in the eye with a crucifix, killing him. The other tribal elders tie him to a stick to die in the sun, but his loyal gang set him loose and they all split for better days and better lays. After wandering through the wasteland (actually just some shrubs) for days, they stumble upon a ruined old city (actually a painted/CGI-d backdrop of a smudged Seattle). And then a brutal storm hits (actually just a filter on a the camera lens) and then everything goes black.

The gang wakes up naked in a groovy room full of artifacts from the good ol' pre-apoc days ( Basketball! Vacuum cleaner!). Before they can figure out what the fuck is going on, a coked-up glam rocker named Neil (Richard Hillman, who may or may not be dead, according to IMDB) bursts in and serenades them with the early Misfits jam, “Where Eagles Dare”. Things get weird from there.

Long story short, Neil and a big-breasted Asian chick named Judith (hilariously wooden, fancy-named  non-actor Tiffany Limos) are both genetically modified mutants. They were part of a college medical experiment a hundred or so years ago, and were granted powers of self-healing and (provisional) immortality. So, when the world ended, they were still around. They hang out in this solar-powered pop-culture emporium, snorting up their self-cooked cocaine, guzzling  booze, listening to punk rock, and fucking. Luckily for the kids, Neil was on meat-safari in his SUV when he spied the kids in the storm, and brought them back for some x-rated entertainment.

Seeing as this a Larry Clark film, it is inevitable that the man who foisted Kids on the world would use this opportunity to get the cave-Kids naked. And so he does, in a ten-minute (it feels like hours), unscripted, booze-crank-sex orgy that feels as icky as you imagine it does. I think that's Larry's lasting contribution to modern cinema, bad nudity. Sure, he'll get the hot chicks naked, but at what cost? Larry Clark wants to ruin boobs for everybody. And he very nearly does with this brain-numbing “party scene”. It's like a community college production of Caligula.

Anyway, it turns out that Neil and Judith can spread their super-virus to others via sex. And they managed to fuck everybody during their coke party, except for David and Sara.  Thusly, the all turn into  a super-hero team ala the Justice League and build a new world free of disease and sorrow.

No. That's not what happens at all. Some of the cave-gang can't handle the process. The next morning, one of the chicks ends up writhing around in pain on Neil and Judith's bed. While Judy vigorously fingerbangs herself, the chick explodes.

So that was messy. Dave and Sara figure out pretty quick that they're dealing with a couple of lunatics, so while the other kids either transform into super-beings or bags of jelly, they do their best to A. Avoid fucking Neil and Judith and B. find a way out of this nuthouse. This proves harder said than done, and ultimately, Dave gets tricked into a quickie with Judy in the warehouse (and then it hit me: the WHOLE MOVIE is shot in the warehouse of, like, a K-Mart!) and before you know it, he's a pseudo-mortal like the other two creeps. Well, almost. He's still the hots for Sara, so instead of raping her – as his super-pals requested – he socks Neil in the mouth.

And then Neil turns into a caveman. So THAT'S what the title means!

And then they fight.  And one of 'em wins. And then there's an ending so ludicrous you'd be outraged, f you hadn't already spent the last 80 minutes being outraged.

In conclusion, take 1: what the fuck just happened?

In conclusion, take 2: So, this movie was co-produced by 70's jiggle-queen Colleen Camp. Camp, Arkoff, and Larry Clark walk into a bar...and 17 drinks later, this is the movie they make. It's so cheap it sometimes looks like a public access show and some of the acting is cringe-worthy, and yet, there's something undeniably alluring about this goopy, disgusting, pervy  mess. If your biggest problem with Kids is that it didn't have enough decapitations or mutant cavemen – and let's face it, it didn't – then this is the movie for you. Actually, this isn't the movie for anybody, really, but you know what I mean.

- Ken McIntyre 

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