tn_tuskI don’t know how it happened but somehow I became the guy that’s more lenient on Kevin Smith movies than everybody else. Back in his hey day when he was a Miramax family member, an indie movement poster boy, a voice of a generation, a director of a movie in the Criterion Collection, a critical darling praised for his dialogue, I used to think he sucked. Here’s an overly harsh one I wrote back when people still seemed to like him (I advised readers not to make eye contact with people who recommend it to them). So I’m as confused as anybody that now that he’s widely hated and semi-retired I keep having an  “actually it’s not that bad” reaction to his “flicks,” as he calls them. COP OUT at least had a couple laughs, and his first horror movie, RED STATE, I actually thought was kinda good and now, I’ll be damned, I kinda liked TUSK too. What the hell?

TUSK is less consistent than RED STATE but a little more inspired in its absurdity. It continues the technique of coasting on an excellent performance by Michael Parks as a sadistic weirdo. This time he plays a retired Canadian proud of his life of rugged adventure and deranged, it turns out, by a long period of being stranded after a shipwreck. What’s that mean, that he had to go cannibal to survive, something like that? No, not quite. It means he got messed up by being isolated with only a walrus as his friend. He called him Mr. Tusk, according to his JAWS style monologue about the incident. And now he’s undergoing unusual measures to get that relationship back.

You know how in HUMAN CENTIPEDE there’s that freako mad scientist who, you know, does that one thing to his victims? This is like that only his thing is to turn a guy into a walrus. Make his legs into a tail, his hands into flippers, attach tusks to his cheeks, teach him to swim and eat fish. It’s ridiculous, but it’s treated seriously, with gruesome effects by Robert Kurtzman. I got a kick out of the goofy audacity of the idea (inspired by actual events, the credits claim), but I also found it genuinely disturbing. You see his victim (Justin Long)’s sad eyes looking out from this fat blob of Frankensteined flesh and think jesus, this guy totally fucked up his body, how could he ever recover from this? The answer is worse and more cynical than I thought.

(END SPOILER: His girlfriend and best friend come to visit him at an exotic animal shelter. They bring him a fish. He comes out of his cave and eats it. A sad song plays.)

mp_tuskTo me the horror here is ridiculous but legit. Other elements threatened to sink it. Though Smith is probly a better podcaster than he ever was a filmatist, his depiction of Long’s comedian-turned-professional-podcaster character is grating enough that I almost threw in the towel pretty early in the movie. I know Smith does it, but I have a hard time believing this guy makes a good living from this podcast where they talk about Youtube videos. And the explanation of why it would be called “The Not See Party” is a pretty long leap for the one laugh it generates later on.

I’m also not in love with Smith’s “Canadian stuff is wacky” philosophy (be ready for Degrassi, hockey and “aboot” references). And I’m mixed on the goofball character played by an unbilled star you wouldn’t expect to be willing to be in this movie. I guess that’s what the Canadian Loomis who hunts a guy who turns people into walruses should be like, but it’s alot of silly for only a little funny. So I’m neutral leaning negative on that aspect.

Come to think of it there are two Canada jokes that are a little more on the meta-ish side that I think are pretty funny. One, Smith treats Canada as a dangerous, unknown place for an American to go. We’ve seen parts of Europe portrayed that way, for example in the HOSTEL series and in the first TAKEN. But our neighbors to the north have not been portrayed that way before, to my knowledge, or been suspected of having any reason to.

Two, you know how so many movies that take place in so many places are always filmed in Canada? For example RUMBLE IN THE BRONX actually rumbled in Vancouver, and most movies taking place in Seattle (BATTLE IN SEATTLE, 50 SHADES OF GREY) did too. This is the rare movie that takes place in Canada but is filmed mostly in the U.S. I remember Daniel Waters said in an interview he almost did that in SEX AND DEATH 101, but he chickened out. Smith didn’t plan it that way, he just lost his intended house location in Toronto and moved the production to North Carolina. Still, filming anywhere in the U.S. as a stand-in for anywhere in Canada is refreshingly novel. Congratulations, Canada.

By the way, did you know that Jodorowsky also had a movie called TUSK? His was a children’s film about a kid whose destiny is intertwined with that of an elephant born on the same day as him, or at least that’s what I’ve read. I have a bootleg of it but it has no subtitles. Jodo disowned it so we’ll probly never see a better release.

Anyway, the parts that Kevin Smith TUSK that take themselves seriously are weirdly up my alley. Like in RED STATE I see a positive Tarantino influence on the storytelling. It’s kind of in chapters instead of normal screenplay structure. It occasionally jumps around in time, flashing back from the HOSTEL type proceeding to show us what life was like with his girlfriend before she and his podcasting sidekick (holy shit, it’s Haley Joel Osment! He got older!) come looking for him. Genesis Rodriguez seems suspiciously out of his league, but she’s not only there to be hot. She has a big crying monologue, not even related to the walrusization, that’s pretty effective, so she gives a little emotional ballast to the ridiculous My Boyfriend Is a Walrus concept.

I’m not gonna claim this is entirely successful or a consistent vision, but I like the idea and how far Smith takes it. What Parks is trying to do is hilariously over-the-top, and I love that (to me anyway) that part doesn’t come off like a joke. It’s just a guy letting his freak flag fly, and he has a really fuckin weird freak flag.

It’s a shame this movie didn’t do better because we really need to do something to tighten our walrusization laws in the United States.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 4th, 2015 at 10:05 am and is filed under Comedy/Laffs, Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

50 Responses to “Tusk”

  1. Speaking of Jodorowsky, Vern, have you seen JODOROWSKY’S DUNE? I’ve seen any of the guy’s movie, but that documentary has made me a fan for life.

  2. ” an unbilled star you wouldn’t expect to be willing to be in this movie”

    Why not? Like Nic Cage, he is known for doing whatever the fuck he wants, even if his last decade as worldwide superstar made people seem to forget what an eccentric weirdo he really is.

  3. I still like Smith. He makes me cringe a lot (and I’m not talking about his walrus gore effects) but I always root for him anyway. He is who he is and he’s honest about his shortcomings. I’ll admit to a certain Special Olympics grading-on-a-curve thing that I grant his filmatism (“Aw, he used a dolly! Good for you, Kevvy! You’ll get ’em next time! Great hustle out there, buddy!”) but he makes me laugh and his two horror movies have been unique and, honestly, kind of creepy. TUSK is more of a dare than a movie but he didn’t welsh on the bet, which I find admirable. He could have been winking up a storm but he just played it mostly straight and let the randomness speak for itself. A lot of filmmakers wouldn’t have had the guts to do that. I feel that horror is a good next step for him. Someday he might just find the perfect blend of his oddball horror leanings and his old school dick-and-fart-jokes-with-surprising-heart vibe and it’ll be some kind of low-fi masterpiece. And the commentary track will be hilarious.

  4. JODOROWSKY’S DUNE is excellent.

    TUSK is based on a crazy Craigslist post about a guy looking for someone to come to his house and pretend to be a walrus. I haven’t seen the film yet but the Craigslist post is nuts.

  5. Oh, and Vern, I believe my copy of JODOROWSKY’S TUSK has subtitles. I will investigate and send you a copy if you want.

  6. I loved Kevin Smith back in the day. He represented me, except not really. Yes, we were both filmmaking outsiders, portly, mouthy dudes with big vocabularies. (And, as someone once pointed out to me, we’re both white.) But he grew up a lot more securely middle class than me, which failed to dawn on me when I went to a film school that I couldn’t afford – also known as ‘any film school.’

    I still hold some affection for the man, but I can’t help but feel that the haters were right. Well, not right, but I see their point. I still disagree with them but, at this point, I also disagree with my younger self on Kevin Smith. At this point, the most exciting thing about Kevin Smith is that Verb may decide to go through his short filmography. Maybe they’ll be better this time. Even if not, the reviews would be enjoyable.

  7. That’s a big ten-four on the subtitles, Vern. It’s still a shitty VHS rip but I guess this is the best anyone can do at the moment. You want I should should shoot you off a copy?

  8. I miss the days when Vern was aggressively anti-Kelvin Smythee. I really, truly despise everything thing this guy has done outside of a few comic books he’s written (his Daredevil run was pretty good). Look, these days I try to err on the side of being positive and whatnot, but this is one guy who should have been forced to stop making movies 15 years ago.

  9. Count me on the side of Team Kevin Horror. I guess we ought to have known Smith had kinda a sadistic side all along (the original, deleted ending of CLERKS, the surprisingly vicious horror/fantasy stuff in DOGMA, producing VULGAR) but these horror movies turn out to have a very unique flavor, something grotesque and kind of intriguing. I wish they were better structured (long segments here with Rodriguez and Osment seem totally superfluous and drag you out of the great horror vibe which is building over in the other story with Parks and Long) but man, when they work they’re really doing something interesting.

    For the record, I think the Criterion Crowd was right about Smith, albeit maybe for the wrong reasons. I have a sneaking suspicion that CHASING AMY is in there because in 1997 it was still pretty arty for a mainstream movie to talk about lesbians. But really he belongs in there because he is, if nothing else, a genuine authorial voice. Every character in a Kevin Smith movie speaks like Kevin Smith, and only Kevin Smith would ever write them that way. He’s bad at so many things, but he’s good at that one thing: being 100% Kevin Smith. He’s incapable of not saying what’s on Kevin Smith’s mind all of the time, even when he should probably know when to shut up. And his movies reflect that: they’re enormously messy, tonally inconsistent, chatty, digressive… and also packed to the gills with whatever big thoughts Kevin is wrestling with at that particular moment. I’m glad most movies aren’t like that, but I think we ought to appreciate that these particular movies are.

    (for the curious: , which also started out my Halloween Horror marathon last year, which I’m still slowly writing up/recovering from to this day)

  10. (that should read: for the curious: my review of TUSK, which also started out my Halloween Horror marathon last year, which I’m still slowly writing up/recovering from to this day)


  11. Charles- The CraigsList thing is an admitted fake. A fan of Smith’s podcast made it up and sent it to him. I believe that guy is credited as a creative consultant on the finished film.

  12. I talked about how much I like Smith and how I think that he and his work get a bum rep all the time (His filmography is actually quiet versatile in many subtle ways) so often on here, that I will sit this round out.

  13. The Undefeated Gaul

    February 4th, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    I quite liked Guy Lapointe. I think it’s the funniest thing that actor has done since 2003 and a big reason I liked this film so much. Especially the flashback scene with Parks. Wish there was some behind the scenes footage of that, those guys must have enjoyed themselves that day.

  14. I named TUSK the best film of 2014 in our local monthly entertainment publication. I love its dialogue, its audacious premise, and the really fearless performances from Long and Parks. Also, it’s truly original.

  15. I missed the whole CLERKS revolution back in 1994 (I think it was laundry week or something), but as each new Smith film came out, and me being partial to dick and fart jokes, I started catching on, and enjoyed them more and more for their retardedness and toilet humor. I still thing DOGMA is his best film, because it takes the bullshit out of organized religion and holds up personal faith as a good thing, and does it in a pretty funny way. You’ve even got Jay getting all curious about life beyond his bong, and asking questions like – “Is it true a chick farts when you blast her in the arse?” See, stoners can grow up.

    So, now that Smith is gaining some respectability with his last two horror films, I wonder if he’ll try and branch out into dramatic territory? If he does, do you think he’ll regret taking the piss out of MAGNOLIA (and MAGNOLIA fans) in JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK? Probably not, because, like Mr Subtlety said, he can’t help being who he is, and saying whatever he’s thinking at the time.

  16. Setting a movie in Canada but filming it in the USA pretty much reverses every law of the universe. I should know the answer, but has this ever happened before?

    “A-boot” is a mishearing of the ugly, regional “a-boat.” Movies and TV mocking Canada are almost always cheaply observed on this front. But the Chocolate Moose gag in GREMLINS 2 ruled.

  17. You know, everyone says that Canada is super nice and it’s a joke in this movie that it’s a scary place, because what could be further from the truth? I beg to differ. I can think of three absolutely horrifying stories just off the top of my head that took place in Canada.

    1. A pig farmer was found to be a serial killer and that not all of the pork he sold was actual pork.
    2. Remember that guy that cut off another guy’s head and started to eat him on the Greyhound bus? Yeah, that was in Canada.
    3. A man and woman went on a killing spree, brutalizing and murdering other women. When caught, the woman cut a deal with the authorities, saying she was just another victim, so they gave her absolute immunity only to discover that they actually video taped their crimes, which showed she was very much involved in the brutality. And she’s off somewhere in Canada, living Scot-free.

    Canada – not all beer, hockey and unnecessary apologies.

  18. I know so many Canadians, but I never heard anyone say aboot. Several of them definitely drop “eh” from time to time.

  19. I don’t notice aboot or eh so much as they way they say sorry – soary rather than sawry. Which is funny, since that’s the joke – they’re always apologizing. I can always pick the Canadian actor with soary and the Aussie with anythin’.

  20. Though Smith is probably a better podcaster than he ever was a filmatist


    and college speaker

    Check him out talking about the time he visited Prince


    “I could care less about Kevin Smith and I could care less about Prince but I just watched the whole 30 minutes engrossed.”

  21. I don’t have a dog in the fight over whether or not Kevin Smith sucks, I’ve only seen two of his movies (DOGMA, which I liked and ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO, which I did not), but I don’t hate the guy and it’s obvious to me that for a lot of people who do it’s a jealously thing, I mean he’s a fat comic book nerd who also happens to be a millionaire and successful filmmaker, how could that NOT inspire jealously?

    I’ve been wanting to see more of his movies like CHASING AMY though because 90’s fetishist that I am I’m sure they’re an interesting look at 90’s culture.

  22. It’s funny to see his podcast get so much praise. It’s actually one of the things that has turned me away from Kevin Smith lately TBH. He just says so much misinformed shit about both cinema and comic books in it that he comes across as a bit of a poser who isn’t as well versed in those subjects as most of his fans and he himself would want you to believe.

  23. Griff – I always liked his first 3 movies. So I would say those are worth a watch. Keep in mind that I also haven’t seen them since I was around 15 years old so I don’t know how I would react to them now a days but I do remember being a fan back then. I also liked CLERKS II which came out during my 20’s and still enjoyed it when I saw it again on IFC recently. So I think he still could come through in my eyes when he really wants to.

  24. I thought this movie was legitimately horrible and wasted a pretty amazing performance from Parks, who really gives it his all (and can actually say Smith’s dialogue and make it sound natural). It’s very fun to just describe the flick to friends, though, and watch their faces react to each new development. “And then Haley Joel Osment shows up, and then he’s in the walrus suit, and then JOHNNY DEPP shows up, and then they both pretend to be retarded for like five minutes, and then…” It’s just insane.

  25. Brendan, thanks for the heads up.

  26. Im with you man, I think Smith is making better movies now then when he started. I absolutely loved Tusk, it freaked out all my friends, always a good sign when I screen a movie. Small bit of info: the two clerk girls where Johnny Depps and Kevin Smith’s daughters…they went to school together.

  27. Clever shout out to Gimli Glider! (“Gimli Slider in the movie.) That’s my mom’s hometown.

  28. I find myself defending Smith more and more, to the point where I’m actually ready to call myself a fan. I think a lot of people have turned their backs on him because they don’t want to be associated with his hardcore internet fanboys (it always annoys me when people rejects a film or filmmaker because of reasons outside of the work itself).

    Like many, I liked his “Jersey” stuff back in the 90’s, and even enjoyed JERSEY GIRL and CLERKS 2, but kinda lost interest after ZACK AND MIRI and COP OUT. But then a year or two ago I watched RED STATE, loved it, and ended up watching BURN IN HELL, his Q&A about the making of RED STATE. And that’s where he won me back, because in that show he says some of the most inspirational shit I’ve ever heard in my life. He talks about the death of his dad and how it affected him as an artist, and it really got me hooked on Kevin Smith again. I listen to some of his podcasts, they’re fun, and I thought TUSK was great. Hopefully it has a strong life on video.

    But yeah, I’ll stand up for Smith. Whether you like his movies or not, you can’t deny that he’s one of the few filmmakers whose personality is all over his work. I think the word Auteur truly applies.

  29. Yeah I just saw this, thought it was pretty good. The walrus parts grossed me out a bit. I’m finding it hard to stomach stuff like this as I get older, don’t know why. As for the famous guy cameo, I thought his character was hilarious. The wandering eyes, the hungover gibberish, he reminded me of Peter Sellers famous Inspector on acid. The fake nose made him look like a younger Tommy Lee Jones in some scenes. I don’t know why the end credits said Guy Lapointe was played by Guy Lapointe, when IMDB has his real name.

  30. Also, Justin Long was really good in this, but don’t forget he’s worn a fat suit before –


  31. Yeah Justin Long is someone I normally have no opinion about, but he’s absolutely fantastic here, in both Walrus and Wallace forms. Rodriguez and Parks are also great, and I legitimately love the villain’s endgame – it really makes the movie work.

    Too bad the ending seems unearned and rushed over – a couple of extra scenes in the middle with Parks and Long would have helped, but instead Smith seems more interested in a pointless and endless flashback scene where the cameo-ing A-lister and Parks act like idiots for who knows what reason. It’s a terrible scene that, like some SNL skits, goes on so long it stops being funny, then keeps going longer and becomes funny again. I applauded its audacity until I realized it detracted from what could have been a really powerful ending.

    Speaking of which – i really hate the end credits of this movie. Smith ends the actual movie on a dead-serious and sad note, then cops out with a “just kidding!” zinger where they play the stoned, rambling podcast I guess this is based off of. Way to undermine the emotionals of your audience and the full commitment of your actors by blatantly saying “hey guess what – we came up with this shit while being high as hell, suckers!!”

  32. Some Spoilers here, I guess. But then when the film is called Tusk, and Justin Long has, um, tusks, on the poster, I kind of think we’re past that.

    I enjoyed this one a lot. I don’t think I’ve seen many films with Justin Long, but I think he did an excellent job in Dodgeball as the earnest nice guy who finishes last, and he does an excellent job here as the archetypal snarky millenial shock jock douchebag…and then as the emotionally broken shell of that douchebag. It just occurred to me that it takes being transformed into a walrus for the douchebay version to recover some of his humanity. Anyway, I think Long’s got chops, and I enjoy all these sides of him.

    Michael Parks is also just a perfect nutty sadist. With as many of these films as have been done (not “person transformed into a walrus” films in particular, but “sadistic torturer guy” films in general), I think it’s hard to bring something unique to the sadistic villain table, and Parks does it.

    I also dig Johnny Deep and the Canada vibe. The sense of isolation. More than anything, I just appreciate that a film like this exists. At at time when we’re all rightfully complaining about boilerplate, CGI, shakycam, franchise-oriented, rebootery, here we have a truly original gonzo concept that absolutely should not have worked even remotely this well.

    My only real complaint is the coda where they come to visit the Walrus (insert Beatles reference here) and somehow he’s still a walrus. Like, they wouldn’t have gotten him out of that suit, or even if they hadn’t, it wouldn’t have just started rotting and him not being able to use the bathroom and stuff. I know I probably have no right to complain about issues of plausibility in a “man transformed into fake walrus” movie, but that last scene was just a strange mix of surprisingly effective dramatic heartbreak and utter implausibility (even grading on a curve defined by the rest of the film).

  33. Skani – Yeah I wondered about the bathroom, etc… as well. It’s not really clear if Parks just sewed a bunch of dead skin from his previous victims on to him, or if he found some way to actually make the suit an organic part of Long’s body. I actually don’t mind the ambiguity. Speaking of which – I’m assuming the zoo at the end is a run-down abandoned one, right? And they just stuck him there b/c they can’t kill him and can’t do anything else with him? Because I hope that wasn’t a working zoo where they hope kids just won’t get close enough to notice how messed up looking the walrus is.

    It’s weird everyone seems to hate this movie yet loves the shit out of Hannibal (the TV show), which has its merits but is also really really stupid, possibly dumber than this movie. Season 1 in particular, where it’s literally “killer of the week”, features interchangeable killers transforming people into totem poles and mushroom gardens and angel statues and other super-ridiculous ideas that probably also came from stoned minds. (“what if like, the killer this week turned people into like, the SCALES OF JUSTICE, man…”) I can’t believe Kevin Smith of all people crafted a story that has a better killer, better motivation, and better payoff than any of the other shit that happened on that season.

    Btw, Vern mentioned a Tarantino influence and I believe Tarantino was rumored to play the Inspector part, which I can’t decide would work better or worse than what we got. I do have to admit it actually reminded me of Inglorious Basterds or Django or alot of QT’s later works, where so many scenes are just long, long talking/interrogation scenes. The aforementioned porch flashback totally seems like a QT scene, just without any good dialogue or reason for being. I was kind of appalled yet impressed at the sheer self-indulgence of the whole thing really.

  34. Uhh…if you look at Smith’s IMDB, you’ll see that his next movie “Yoga Hosers” will be a spin-off featuring the two teenage girl clerks from this movie. And will feature the return of that certain A-lister as Inspector Guy Lapointe. (Don’t click if you don’t want it ruined). And will have Genesis Rodriguez, Haley Joel Osment and Justin Long returning as different characters. Then his NEXT movie “Moose Jaws” will feature the same two girl clerks yet again but will have Genesis Rodriguez returning as her character from Tusk. I almost can’t write this stuff with a straight face; it sounds like Smith is just making decisions via mad libs, and I kinda can’t wait for these movies now.

  35. Hannibal’s Choose Your Own Serial Killer Adventure format was a nice freak show for what it was worth, even if it was ultimately pointless to the story arc of Hannibal and Graham becoming conjoined psychological twins. I was more put off by Graham’s wigging out each episode as his psyche unravels. And the whole there’s-a-serial-killer-lurking-in-every-neighborhood thing is so 90’s. Point is, if you’re not Lance Henriksen in Millennium then I’m not buying it.

  36. I read where Johnny Depp’s kid was one of the yoga hosers (check-out girls), so I think that was the hook as far as his involvement. Also, sorry, but I dug the Johnny Depp character. It was off-the-chain cartoonish and self-indulgent, but I had fun with it. Something about Johnny Depp reading a phonebook and me still watching, etc. Then again, I didn’t see Mortdecai, so I guess even I have my limits.

    I watched about four episodes of Hannibal, and I found that it had good production values and good performances and all, and the guy doing Hannibal actually made the role his own and did okay with it. But I got fatigue pretty quick, dropped out of that, and never really looked back. The “Hannibal and his FBI protege-frenemy” thing has been done to death; it hasn’t even been all that long since Red Dragon, which was itself a remake. Seriously over-saturated on these TV serial killer procedurals. Still, we can hope for “Hannibal: Des Moines.”

  37. Also, not sure what they’re going to do for a poster if there’s ever a Tusk II, because the Tusk I poster is the perfect Tusk II poster. I’d recommend they just call it “Tusk, Too” and maybe like Kevin Hart or Amy Schumer could be Justin Long’s manatee sidekick or something.

  38. @Skani – “it hasn’t even been all that long since Red Dragon”, it kinda has though, hasn’t it? I mean 13 years, that’s a good while, I agree that it doesn’t *feel* like it should be that long ago, but it kinda is.

    Anyway, why is Kevin Smith so obsessed with Canada?

  39. Canada IS a pretty amusing place though.

  40. Not exactly sure what I’m trying to say there, Griff. I think Hannibal probably started closer to 11 years after the movie, and for me, that’s not a long time (and I don’t think it was til the reboot of Ang Lee’s Hulk that remakes/reboots on this kind of a time cycle became a thing).

    Anyway, I think it’s just the sense of how much faster everything happens these days and how derivative and throw-away it feels. I know that’s an overgeneralization, and it’s a point that others have belabored, and you can still find original things. That was my point with Tusk, I guess. With Tusk, even if you hate it, you can’t deny it’s pretty original and different. Whereas, with Hannibal, what is original and different about this? It’s the 90th serial killer procedural show of the last 5 years, and it can be regarded as the third adaptation of the same book in the last 30 years, and it’s linked to a franchise with like four or five films, the most recent of which came out in 2007. It’s a testament to how iconic the character is, and I think the show was well-enough done, I’m just kind of burnt out on it all. If it’s your first exposure to the character, I can see how that’s not a problem, but I’ve got too much baggage, I spose.

  41. The weird thing is (not to get too off-subject) – I only started “clicking” with Hannibal in the last 6 or so episodes where it became a really long and slow re-telling of Red Dragon. Everything up to there I felt like I should have loved but just couldn’t get into. I applaud their ambition and commitment to pushing the limits of Network TV, but I was also bored to tears. I wonder what that says about me that I couldn’t connect with the 30 or so hours of unpredictable fresh story, but only started caring when it re-told a story I’ve already seen told on film twice? (Hopefully it doesn’t say I only want comfort in the familiar, but that I need a strong story and appreciate my time not being wasted on meandering, repetitive nonsense)

    I still haven’t seen Human Centipede so I can’t vouch for how original Tusk is, but I do know even the awful parts held my attention in a car-crash way. Oh – speaking of awful, I kinda hated the use of the actual song Tusk at the end (with the weird comedic 70s-cop show “runing with guns” shots). When they just used the drums from it earlier (when Long first comes to the house) I thought it was awesome – a funny in-joke to people familiar with the song but also a way to legitimately build tension and unease. The usage of the actual song just seemed like Smith thought it was cool sounding and they used it in a Boogie Nights deleted scene, so why not?

  42. I suppose there are some similarities between Human Centipede and Tusk, but the same applies to Boxing Helena or any other “torture body horror” type films, like Hostel. I think there are more than enough inspired and distinctive elements to Tusk to make it stand out as an altogether different animal. On the other hand, how many “cop must enter the mind of serial killers to catch them” procedurals have we gotten on big and small screens in the last 25 years? Hell, how many do we have on CBS every week now?

    I did not catch the Tusk song, Zod. As much as I find myself defending it, I only saw it the one kind and think I cut it off at the credits (which means I also missed the scene where Nick Fury enlists Tusk to join the Avengers).

  43. RIP Michael Parks. He was always one of those character actors like Tom Atkins that I knew people loved but I personally didn’t see what the fuss was about, until Red State and Tusk. Say what you will about Kevin Smith and these weird, sloppy, stoner-y movies, but he gave Parks two legit roles of a lifetime and showed the world how talented he really was.

  44. Well, that fucking sucks. Most actors would sell their souls for the kind of screen presence Parks tossed off like it was nothing.

    Anybody ever see a movie called CLUB LIFE? It’s a 1986 exploitation drama about bouncers at a nightclub, some of whom use nunchucks. Parks plays the Sam Elliott part of the grizzled, charismatic Obi Wan of bouncers. He’s fucking great in it, as always, and the movie is a real surprise. It should be campy as fuck but it feels like a surreal little slice of life.

    He was a pretty good singer, too. Never overplayed anything but always sold it, a lot like his acting. That should come as no surprise to fans of his work on the RED STATE soundtrack but that was no anomaly. He had a singing career in the 60s and 70s. Here’s my favorite track of his:

    Blue-There's Been a Change in Me

    from the Michael Parks(Then Came Bronson) album, "Blue"

  45. RIP. Love him. One of my favorites.

    TUSK is one of my favorites, and probably my favorite Michael Parks role. Love it or hate it…the movie took balls man!

    The Tarantino stuff, TWIN PEAKS, and a really weird turn in DEATH WISH 5…this guy will be missed!!

  46. Just saw an underseen one with him the other day due to my watching horror movies filmed in Louisiana-a-thon. It was called THE EVICTORS. That one and TUSK is a good example of how Parks is of that dying breed of actor called ‘constantly dependable.’ See also Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and Mako. Excellent actors usually not in excellent movies but they were always excellent in them.

  47. I’ve seen that one. It’s from the director of LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK and THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN. Parks, as I recall, plays the typical overworked husband character who doesn’t believe his wife when she tells him about all the crazy shit that’s going on (a common character type in 70s horror), but he made the guy feel like he had a legitimate point of view and wasn’t just there to help stretch the plot out to 90 minutes. It’s a pretty thankless role but he made the most of it. That’s what pros do.

  48. Yup, that’s the one. I originally mentioned the director in my post (name-dropping both those films even) but decided to not distract from Parks. Charles B. Pierce has a really interesting filmography. Especially interesting in the early-indie filmmaker movement: instead of chasing trends, he followed his own freak-flag and made movies much more interesting than most anyone else would have made them. I guess a case could be made that none of his movies are “good” but they are sure are interesting and definitely strive for excellence. Not many indy/B-movie directors can say they have two weird movies with cult followings on their resume. Though I think BOGGY CREEK II being on MST3K has kinda tarnished part of his reputation from what I can tell trying to find more information on him on the Internet.

  49. Well, it’s his own damn fault. Those BOGGY CREEK sequels aren’t just terrible, they also have the stink of vanity project about them. But no one can take those first few movies away from him. He was really ahead of his time in terms of indie horror.

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