Writer: Vernon Chatman
Cast: Melvin, Yvonne, Kesha (partial cast only)
Running time: 69mins
(but it’s not your average four stars)
The lowdown: When is porn not porn? When it’s in the anarchic hands of comedian and sometime South Park contributor Vernon Chatman. After discovering “deep in the greasiest creases of the internet” porn producers who film punters’ scripts for their “greedily lapping eyes only”, Chatman attempted to make a comic prank feature film. Four different smut companies received four scripts they had to film verbatim that when put together form a metaphysical end-of-times grot epic. Or as the opening crawl would have it, an “8 part prepocalyptic triptych in D-Minor” designed to push “the sensual limits of the Flesh Psyche”. Strange, but unforgettable.
The full verdict: It is Art or is it Exploitation? Is it possible to exploit porn actresses whose day job is perform eye-watering acts of sexual congress by having them spout such dialogue as “Rape the shame from my balls”, wash in the water-like blood of angels and birth 12oz steaks?
The answer is probably, no, not really. But, it would be fascinating to hear what they made of the bizarre scripts that play like a compendium of fetish hang-ups and theological questioning.
But, those greasy creases of the internet frequently seal shut and even the most incriminating of Google searches come up empty.
What we are left with is a fascinating underground oddity. If David Lynch, Christopher Morris and Lars von Trier teamed up and brought Ben Dover on as artistic consultant, Final Flesh would be the result.
A loose narrative has a mother, father and daughter family facing the final day on Earth before the atom bombs fall. Over four episodes, with different casts of black and white actors, they seem to experience the end of the world and perpetual Buddhist rebirth in an unforgiving universe.
The thrill comes from watching Freudian symbolism (food and sex, sex and bodily functions, sex and womb returning) and delirious philosophical dialogue twinned with gonzo production values and amateur, but deadly earnest performances. Are there any harder working actors than sleaze thespians?
Is it funny? Frequently, although despite minimal hardcore (an erect penis and pencil masturbation slip in) a nauseous tension runs throughout. Such imagery as a container of raw meat being shaken until it becomes milk or a man vomiting coins taps into a primordial layer of disgust most films never approach.
Grated shavings from a cheese penis spelling “NATURE” or God posting notes under a door will raise a smile between the dry heaves.
Themes and recurring imagery (mirrors, money, meat) do reach some kind of fruition come the (comparatively polished) final episode and reveal a method to Chatman’s perversity.
Porn edges ever closer to the mainstream and filmmakers continue to appropriate it; Blue is the Warmest Colour and Nymphomaniac being two recent examples.
But, Final Flesh may emerge as the most honest attempt to graft gravitas onto grot. And throw in some laughs as a reward.