New Column Time – As you may know, our cult film podcast, Ed Wood Jesus Do?, has been unleashed upon the world, and though in great length we will dissecting films through an audio format, there are films too important not to discuss here. So welcome to Ed Wood Jesus Do? The Column! (THE N IS SILENT, MOTHERFUCKERS!) These will be less reviews and more explorations of what works and why you should see them.
Film: KUSO (2017)
Directed by Steve, or Steve Ellison, or Flying Lotus. Written by Steve Ellison, David Firth, and Zack Fox. Follow them on Twitter or whatever.
Available Exclusively on Shudder
this shit is written by eric
Good gravy! That’s all I can say directly after seeing the 2017 horror film, KUSO. I don’t even have time to replay the events in my mind or to even find a suitable through-line to make everything digestible. I am going from the gut on this motherfucker and the gut is telling me that KUSO is the greatest film to ever be created by Earthlings. I am not 100% certain these Earthlings exist on our temporal-spatial plane, and in fact, this is the Citizen Kane of a dimension in which films are strange, and linger in parts of your brain not connected to logic or consciousness. So maybe us.
KUSO is the first film directed by Steve Ellison, otherwise known as Flying Lotus. If you have not heard of him, I am sure by the name, you can easily pick up what he is putting down. This film follows four chaotic vignettes in a post-earthquake, surrealist LA. It was co-written by David Firth, creator of the legendary YouTube creep hype toon, Salad Fingers. The film is strange, deep in its shallowness with a depth that is shallow in and of itself. There are CGI breasts and even a psychotropic healer named Mr. Quibbles living inside George Clinton’s asshole. It also features Adult Swim and Comedy Central alums such as Hannibal Burress, Tim Heidecker, Anders Holm, and Donnell Rawlings. It is intense, scary, gross, and fucking awesome.
Let’s stop there. This isn’t just a weird film. That’s right, we’re about to get real in here. Flying Lotus’ filmmaking is a lot like his rap. He riddles the listener with absurd lines and awkward sounds, but behind all the ugly surrealism and the offensiveness meant to shock, there is real fucking talent. This film feels like the marriage of the absurdist humor of Tim and Eric with the ultra-violent visions of Takashi Miike. It is as important to cinema in 2017 as Eraserhead was in 1977. Every shot of a little person rubbing his own feces all over a sticky xenomorphesque pod in the woods is bookended by magical scenes that instantly develop the tone in much the same way Apichatpong Weerasethakul established his in the astounding Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall his Past Lives. There is a melding of obtuse CGI imagery with Troma-style practical effects. A lesser artist would have left you feeling lost inside, but Mr. Lotus creates a world that doesn’t give a fuck about how cohesive it looks. As much as this film may be dismissed as kissing the ass of Bunuel, it must be remembered much of the beauty of the famed Spanish surrealist was incorporated to allow subversive thought to become more easily digestible. KUSO is subversive thought wrapped in a fucking tortilla shell of subversive style. In other words, just like Flying Lotus.
For now, the real question is: “How the fuck am I supposed to return to my life? What am I supposed to do with the vivid imagery of someone repeatedly stabbing the head of an erect penis with an ice pick?” My guess is that I need to watch it again to try and make sense of it. And when I can’t, I’ll tell someone else to watch it, and you should too. Tell your high friends to watch it; dissect it in between bitter bong hits. Tell your church friends to watch it and that God exists and He created a masterpiece about two fuzzy creatures who perform abortions like Scorpion from Mortal Kombat; “Get over here!” “Fatality!” “Toasty!” Tell your mother to fuck off, she probably won’t like this film.
The film enters with Busdriver, one of my all-time favorite lords of Hip-Hop, doing a majestic spoken word piece. He only returns post-credit with another melodic monologue, a sigh of relief, a bit of beautiful levity to let us know that though the world is absurd, we live in it, and will continue to live in it. “So skin me alive. I survived, and I can barely believe it; quake,” he says in the last line of his soliloquy. “So skin me alive. I survived, and I can barely believe it; quake.” And with that, we get the most profound statement of this film, and possibly our lives.