A few weeks back I reviewed the low-budget, low-brow anti-racism extravaganza that is Honky Holocaust. If you check that review, you’ll see that while it didn’t all come together in the end, filmmaker Paul M McAlarney and crew had enough Troma-style enthusiasm that it was all good. Well, Ungovernable Films have a new feature getting ready to hit the festival circuit and as much as I enjoyed Honky Holocaust, The Ungovernable Force is so much more satisfying all around that I got a little giddy watching it. A warning for the casual moviegoer, though: if you’re not comfortable seeing A LOT of dicks along with your traditional gratuitous tits and ass, then you might not be the audience for this film. Also, the use of “faggot” as an insult throughout can be problematic, but more on that later. The Ungovernable Force begins as an entertaining punk romance as Sal Purgatory (Jake Vaughan) tries to get over a recent break-up, but the opening voice-over hints at things to come: “As long as I can remember, I’ve always hated cops.” While ominous, this intro seems to be leading to something more light-hearted as Sal and his punk friends get harassed by a couple of over-the-top cop stereotypes and then get into some shenanigans, sexually terrorizing some frat boys. Maybe even moreso than in Honky Holocaust, The Ungovernable Force gives no fucks about whether or not the audience is going to offended. In fact, there’s a feeling of pride in offending mainstream viewers that hearkens back to classic Troma films – or maybe more appropriate in the case of this film, the earliest John Waters romps. As in films like Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, or Desperate Living, The Ungovernable Force is a no-holds-barred assault on conventional moral attitudes. But while Sal and his friends are clearly good guys here (unlike the leads in Waters’ early films, who all revel in being horrible), McAlarney doesn’t hold back from presenting them as confused about how they’re seen by others, or even naively oblivious of their own privilege. For example, the aforementioned extensive use of “faggot” as a pejorative. The word is used at least three different ways with distinctions to which the characters themselves seem oblivious. The first, and most common, is as a manner of light-hearted insult amongst each other. It’s the sort of thing that straight guys do when hanging out together. It’s gonna drive some viewers away, but it’s believable – especially given how these guys give each other shit about everything. Nobody is safe from an insult, and that’s what real friendships are like. Secondly, it is used as an actual insult by both the punks and the cops. This is the hardest to get over, but again, in a non-PC world, this is also realistic. The obliviousness of the characters to the offensiveness of this is demonstrated when Sal is confronted by two gay joggers, offended by his use of the term. Sal is demonstrably confused about why they would be offended since he wasn’t talking about them and wouldn’t even consider calling them faggots in everyday conversation. There’s cognitive dissonance in the fact that calling a gay stranger faggot is totally unacceptable, but using it to insult the Sheriff who is running for Mayor is perfectly acceptable. Sal is seriously confused by the whole encounter, but writer/director McAlarney clearly isn’t. It shows that the language isn’t just being used to shock, but to reveal character. Thirdly, “faggot” is co-opted and used by the gay punk, Jonas (Mark Geanakakis) as a source of pride, and while homosexuality is mocked by the characters, a budding gay romance is accepted as normal and one of the more heartwarming elements of the story, in a very similar way the lesbian relationship between the Juliet and Ness occurs in the classic Tromeo & Juliet. By the way, Scream Queen Debbie Rochon played Ness in that film and also shows up here as the Nazi brains behind the Sheriff’s run for Mayor on the American Fascist Party platform, and the film features a debate that might sound surprisingly familiar to anyone who watched any debate with Donald Drumpf involved. What is probably the most important moment of self-realization in the film comes after a second group of characters is introduced: The Bums. Up until this point, the punks have seen themselves as outside normal society, busting up frat guys, mocking organized religion, and harassed by the cops; you know, the usual. But when they discover the raped and mutilated body of a dead homeless woman in their hangout, they are confronted with what outsider status really is. They don’t even consider the bums human at first and are afraid to interact with them as though coming across a pack of wild dogs or a band of gorillas. But after following them back to their territory, Jonas takes the initiative to approach and build bridges between the groups. I don’t think it’s an accident that the most transgressive of the punks would be the one to establish friendships with the bums. And later, when Sal finds out that Steve, the High Priest of the Bums (Brian Douglas Young) was murdered by Sheriff Dupont (David R. Reid) for trying to stop him from raping and murdering another homeless woman, he declares they should stand up and kill the cops. This throws another realization into the faces of the punks; they are a little like the college kids jumping onto the Kony 2012 bandwagon a few years back. Of course Kony was horrible. Of course the Sheriff is horrible. Of course they should be stopped. But meaningfully standing up and doing something involves getting dirty. When new bum leader, Kevin (Bill Weeden in a performance worthy of the late, great Brother Theodore) confronts him, Sal’s impulse is to apologize, acknowledging he is an outsider and doesn’t really understand the gravity of what he’s suggesting. But this is when the film takes a more serious ideological turn. Kevin agrees that they need to stand up and kill the cops, however, “They have all the power! They have all the guns!” This leads to another group coming into play: the mob, thanks to their historic antipathy towards fascism. At this point the film actually becomes specifically about Sal’s development from naive and privileged to serious and dedicated to a cause larger than himself. This scene also throws a bit of light on another social problem, as the niece of Don Corbucci (Tony Moran, the original Michael Myers) is a homeless bum thanks to being an unmedicated schizophrenic. When he pleads for her to take her meds, she violently refuses in an unnerving scene that might seem a little too real if you have family or friends dealing with mental illness. So if all this pseudo-intellectual jibber-jabber hasn’t bored you too much, let me sum up: The Ungovernable Force is a smart film that inhabits the very concept of Punk Aesthetic. It’s filled to the brim with obscenities, vulgarities, cheap gore and exposed penises. It features guest appearances by Debbie Rochon and Troma’s own Lloyd Kaufman, as well as punk rock musicians including Steve Ignorant from Crass, Nick Cash from 999, Thomas Mensforth from Angelic Upstarts, Steve Lake from Zounds, Zillah Minx from Rubella Ballet, along with The Shend from The Cravats. It features punks teaming up with bums to use guns provided by the mob to kill rapist fascist cops. And there are mutant punk monsters thrown into the mix, too. What? I didn’t mention that before? Well, there you go. This is a film with something for everybody. When it’s over you’ll want to go throw rocks at expensive cars in the suburbs. Oi oi oi! Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.