OVERREACHING IMAGINATION: THE TWISTED FILMS OF CHARLES PINION

OVERREACHING IMAGINATION: THE TWISTED FILMS OF CHARLES PINION

Supersaturated with eyeball kicks and a non-mainstream aesthetic, psychedelic splatterpunk is one way to describe the underground films of low-budget auteur Charles Pinion. Consensus reality just gives up after a certain point and the nudity, madness, sacrilege and gore—lots of gore—spills all over the floor, slithers up your legs and eats your brain.

“Pinion’s imagination occasionally overreaches his limited budget, but the results are always impressive,” Shock Cinema’s Steve Pulchalski accurately pointed out in 1997.

Shooting on video, the frighteningly handsome director (and occasional actor in his own films) has called his work “the modern exploitation cinema,” otherwise known as “Pulp Video…where the narrative limits for sex, violence and depravity can be expanded and transcended…. Gruesome and prurient surface narratives combined with affordable reproduction techniques.”

As weird and disturbing as they are, Pinion’s movies are inclusive and fun: Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense, just try and keep up and all will be revealed. Script may always be subservient to pacing, mood and the inclusion of any sort of exploitation element, but there is a sense of purpose, a propulsive drive to his pictures.

Keeping busy in a variety of mediums since 1996’s We Await, Pinion is now finishing his magnum opus, American Mummy—to be shown in 3-D!

The Spectacle wants to thank Charles Pinion with his assistance for setting up these screenings.

Showing at the Spectacle will be Pinion’s three films:

TWISTED ISSUES
1988, 80 min. USA

WEDNESDAY, JULY 10 – 10:00 PM
FRIDAY, JULY 19 – 10:00 PM

What began as a documentary covering Gainesville, Florida’s hardcore punk rock scene rapidly mutated into a weird and kinetic tale about a zombie skater seeking gory revenge, while still being a love-letter to and a slice-of-life of the skatepunks from the director’s hometown.

Full of more youthful energy than sense, Twisted Issues’ pace is breathless, covering lots of ground: skateboarding, astral projection, mad doctors and much more are thrown at the viewer, all scored to a hardcore soundtrack. According to punk-rock movie encyclopedia Destroy All Movies!!!, “the gore is relentless… Things take a decidedly psychedelic turn by the end, but homemade viscera and general creative drive triumph in a brutal intestine-war finale.”

Meanwhile, Film Threat Video Guide called Twisted Issues one of the “25 Must-See Underground Movies of the 1980s.” Featuring Pinion as a “dimension-hopping mastermind” who’s also the frontman for grindcore band Psychic Violents! Come and celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Twisted Issues!

RED SPIRIT LAKE
1993, 69 min. USA

SATURDAY, JULY 13 – 10:00 PM
SUNDAY, JULY 21 – 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, JULY 28 – 10:00 PM

Red Spirit Lake has been described by Basket Case creator Frank Henenlotter as “a disgusting art film: Poetic and elegant.”

Marilyn (played by the sexy Amanda Collins, the film’s co-author) has inherited a supernatural estate after her aunt’s mysterious death. Nude apparitions prance daily, while the groundskeepers are tormented every night by their memories of alien abduction.

Using any and all excuses for gore or nudity (male and female), Pinion’s unholy tribute to late-1960s/early-1970s exploitation films (especially those created by H.G. Lewis and Lucio Fulci) could also be packaged as “Clive Barker’s Last House on the Left,” where sexy poltergeists derail a home invasion with blood-splattered results.

While the subplots pile with reckless abandon, Marilyn’s visions grow more intense, and during a debauched weekend with some stoner/nudist pals, the gangsters who killed her aunt show up. But the ghosts and phantoms (and maybe even the aliens) have an agenda of their own—because Marilyn is the last of a long line of witches, and Red Spirit Lake is the center of their power.

Featuring underground filmmaker Richard Kern as an evil henchman and cult icon Kembra Pfahler as a naughty but goofy spook, Red Spirit Lake has plenty of “the good stuff” fans of B-movies desire: nudity, mayhem, hallucinations, nudity, psychotic violence—including murder by fisting!—and plenty more nudity in the snow. It’s the 20th Anniversary of this wild, wild movie, and it may be another 20 years before you see something like this again. With a surprisingly haunting soundtrack by Cop Shoot Cop, Clint Ruin and Lydia Lunch, Lunachicks and others.

WE AWAIT
1996, 54 min. USA

MONDAY, JULY 1 – 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, JULY 14 – 10:00 PM
TUESDAY, JULY 30 – 7:30 PM

We Await has been described as “an urban Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” but that’s only half the story—you’ve got to add, “as if written by Terrence McKenna,” because there’s a heavy “magic mushroom” vibe to this short, but very dense and thought-provoking film.

A con man gets embroiled with a family willfully communing with a sentient transdimensional jewel whose spores are highly psychoactive green fungus—that encourages a “group mind,” as well as a taste for human flesh! The family, including a “dog” who has chosen to be one, needs a vessel for the birth of “The Wise One,” and our hapless con man is the candidate. But first he must be prepared…

Calling We Await “beautifully edited and executed,” and Pinion’s “best, most playfully disturbing work yet,” Shock Cinema’s Pulchalski noted how “Pinion also captures a genuine sense of nightmarish, societal chaos.”

The director really has the knives out for televangelists and their disciples, showing family member Barrett (well-played by Pinion himself) getting himself all worked up into a killing frenzy while watching multiple, simultaneous TVs (a reoccurring audio-visual overload with the director), all broadcasting overwrought religious programming—before he goes out and slaughters some holy rollers by kicking their heads in.

There’s a real gnarly primordial vibe going on in We Await, as if ancient texts and mystic rites were not just being obeyed, but imprinted on the videotape, waiting to infect its viewers…

“Far darker than its predecessors,” writes Jack Sargeant, author of Deathtripping, “We Await reiterates Pinion’s fascination with mytho-poetic thematics, most clearly manifested when the family undertakes a ‘spirit drive’—a psychedelic journey in which they come face to face with a gigantic blood-smothered grimacing Jesus” (in a tribute to 1950s giant radioactive monster movie The Amazing Colossal Man).

Set in San Francisco’s Mission District but with enough bad vibes to send the City by the Bay to bottom of the sea, We Await features music by Crash Worship, Unsane, Eugene Chadbourne and many others.

Leave a Reply