September 14, 2000
TORONTO, Canada - Get ready for a slew of gross films. Twisted,
disturbing movies are causing a stir at the Toronto International Film
Festival, and the aptly titled new "Vulgar" leads the pack.
New Jersey bad-boy filmmaker Kevin Smith - whose "Dogma" inspired a
boycott by a Catholic group - shocked the audience Tuesday night with
the world premiere of this latest film from View Askew, his production
And Toronto audiences don't shock easily.
Darren Aronofsky's "Requiem for a Dream" graphically depicts the
descent of a drug-taking mother and son (Ellen Burstyn and Jared Leto)
in Brighton Beach.
Tom Twyer's German "Princess and the Warrior" shows a tracheotomy
in stomach-churning detail. Jon Shear's deeply disturbing "Urbania"
(opening tomorrow in Manhattan) features a brutal gay-bashing
incident. And the French-Canadian black comedy "Maelstrom" starts
with a chilling, clinical depiction of an abortion.
Even Robert Altman's cheery and otherwise audience-friendly "Dr. T
and the Women" opens with Richard Gere performing a gynecological
examination - and closes with a close-up of a live birth.
But the compelling "Vulgar," written and directed by Smith's longtime
friend Bryan Johnson, goes way beyond pushing the envelope.
This very dark revenge comedy features a brutally intense male rape
scene that, one audience member suggested afterwards, makes those
in "Pulp Fiction" and "Deliverance" seem mild by comparison.
The victim is a children's party clown, fearlessly played by "Clerks" star
Brian O'Halloran, who offers a raunchier version of his services for
bachelor parties so he can afford his mother's nursing home.
Unfortunately, his first customers are a perverted middle-aged man and
his two adult sons who are all too taken by the bustier and fishnets the
clown dons for the role - and they ravage him at knife-point in an
Though Smith - who did battle with the Hollywood ratings board over his
potty-mouthed debut, "Clerks" - doesn't direct and the low-budget
movie has a far more twisted sensibility, the connections with his other
movies are unmistakable.
"Vulgar" shares the same central Jersey setting and features several
familiar actors, including Smith himself - who drops his patented Silent
Bob character to play a slick producer who hires the clown for a TV
series, unaware of his awful secret.
"Vulgar" doesn't yet have a theatrical distributor, and Smith conceded
the film's violence may make it a tough sell for mini-majors like Miramax,
Fine Line and USA Films.
But he said at the opening-night party at the trendy Bauhaus nightclub
that he was pleased only about 50 people walked out of the first
"I thought it played very well," he said.
Director Johnson said the film was inspired by the drawing of a
transvestite clown - the logo on the movies produced by View Askew,
going back to "Clerks."
"The first draft was much rougher," said O'Halloran. "I read it and I just
had to put it out of my mind for a few days."
For more information on 'Vulgar' please see the press release and personal messages and the Vulgar website.