Friday, April 20, 2018


Steve Ellison

As the rapper Busdriver informs us during the opening musical number, a massive earthquake has devastated Los Angles and the survivors are diseased, mutilated and some have been driven mad. We then spend time with some of these denizens and their bizarre lives, are they still human underneath or have they become something much stranger?

Kuso is a towering edifice to the grossness of the human body. No fluid is left behind as this movie gleefully wallows in all the pus, excrement, blood and seminal fluid it can find. It is rare I see a movie that has no intention of holding back, and Kuso is quite pointed about challenging the viewer with the amount of bodily mess on display. Every so often a film comes along that is heralded as the next ‘endurance’ film, I Spit on Your Grave (1978), Martyrs (2008), A Serbian Film (2010), to name a few. Those movies usually engage in a certain grueling cruelty directed at both its characters and audience. Make no mistake Kuso is often cruel to both as well, but just as often it is absurdly funny as well.

"What do you folks at home think?"
The film is broken up into four vignettes that never fully intertwine but do carry some thematic similarities. These vignettes overlap and are occasionally interrupted by extended animation interludes. Smear, the tale of a young boy and the anus monster he befriends after getting laughed out of school is somehow both disgusting, contemplative, and shockingly rather beautiful at times. Sock tells of a young woman who eats concrete and is told by God to find her baby in a strange tunnel. It is the most horrific of the four, both engaging in Kuso’s now customary poop fetish as well as claustrophobia and body horror. Royal has all the incest and tumor sex you could want outside of a Cronenberg film. Mr. Quiggle is a story that contains mutants who look like they stepped out of Antibirth (2016), abortions, rapping, and a giant insect that lives inside the butt of Parliament-Funkadelic’s George Clinton.

Taco Bell 2099
The movie moves between stories at a pace that isn’t rapid but does keep things interesting. The mood of these stories ranges from haunting to ludicrous and creates a multi-textured kind of storytelling that shines through even all the gross-out muck and upsetting sex. The stories it tells are weirdly lyrical and underneath are driven by characters who are just as broken as their earthquake ruined city. So, despite all the horror and comedy there a definite melancholy tone that serves to unify all of these elements.

Kuso isn’t for everyone, and in fact, I’d venture to say it isn’t for most people. It is a deeply unpleasant film, but it is also a rewarding one those brave enough to venture into its wet confines. I can’t promise you’ll like what you find there, but I don’t think you will forget it any time soon.

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