Some films are just disgusting--and that is a compliment. It is not easy to sustain grossness for an entire film without resorting to gimmickry or cheap tricks. Most gross films are, in fact, gratuitous, and would, in fact, be better if they were slightly less gross (think Texas Chainsaw Massacre). But there are those films whose grossness is the shameless whole of their appeal. Following are a few vulgar little selections that are likely to be at your local video store.

RABID (1977)
dir. David Cronenberg

David Cronenberg is the patron saint of disgusting films. Rabid stars ivory-snow-pure porno princess Marilyn Chambers as a PYT with an experimental skin graft gone horribly wrong. From the graphic skin graft to the scenes of rabid Canadians frothing at the mouth and biting each other, the disgust stays hilariously bilious. But the pièce de résistance is Cronenberg's brilliantly conceived underarm needle tumor. A rabies-filled spear of flesh with grotesque phallic overtones, this nasty little device is lodged in a superfluous vaginal/anal cavity in Chambers' underarm, and comes out during sexual arousal to pierce the partner's flesh and inject rabies. Cronenberg spares no one, showing the strange orifice pulsating and throbbing, and letting us see the fleshy needle in full erectile splendor. Ewww. JAMIE HOOK

XTRO (1983)
dir. Harry Bromley Davenport

A guy is kidnapped by aliens and returned to his family three years later--only now he's harboring a transforming disease! But the scenes burned in my brain from when I saw this at the Spokane drive-in are: (1) a woman gives birth to a full-grown man, who climbs out of her vagina covered in blood and slime, and (2) people are cobwebbed to the walls of a house and nourish alien eggs, which later slide down long gelatinous tubes. This was 1983, before Aliens, and Xtro was far more nauseating; not only was the texture of the webs like moldy milk, a dwarf in a clown costume was hobbling around the room, acting as a sort of nursemaid to the eggs. Euch. BRET FETZER

THE HIDDEN (1987)
dir. Jack Sholder

This movie fucking ROCKS. It stars Kyle MacLachlan as an alien inhabiting an FBI agent in hot pursuit of another alien, who uses human beings as a host and moves from body to body... killing all along the way. The evil alien makes its hosts want to listen to heavy metal and drive fast cars and kill, maim, and cut up people at random, not to mention rob banks. And it makes people horny. The movie opens with a car chase that erupts into a fireball, and then we get to see the victim in the hospital, with burns everywhere, shot from every conceivable angle. But the best parts of this movie are the disgusting scenes when the alien passes from one host to another: This wriggling, tentacled thing comes out of peoples' mouths and then crawls into the mouths of others. It is completely nauseating. JAMIE HOOK

THE SINFUL DWARF (1973)
dir. Vidal Raski

While the plot and technique of this Scan- dinavian film--which concerns a man named Olaf and the white-slavery ring run out of his mother's attic--are predictably, even dully those of average soft-core pornography, the simple, brilliant addition of the titular "sinful dwarf" makes this movie quite special. The character played by the dwarf is disgusting: not for any reason connected to his diminutive size, mind you, but because he is a leering pedophile who dopes up women and can't really speak English and is just completely disgusting. The scenes of him attacking the husband of one of his white slaves are especially lewd, with him grinning maniacally and jumping up and down. Sick stuff. JAMIE HOOK

HUSBANDS AND WIVES (1992)
dir. Woody Allen

Though I recently proposed a petition drive to prevent Harvey Keitel from ever appearing naked again on film, I'm even more disgusted with the ridiculous cinematic pairings of old farts (Sean Connery, Harrison Ford, Michael Douglas) with gorgeous young women. Woody Allen, of course, is the king of this conceit, with his repeated theme of young beauties falling for his repulsively ugly old self. Husbands and Wives, shot during Mia Farrow's discovery of Woody's icky affair with her 21-year-old adopted daughter, can be truly painful to watch. The story of the breakdown of two marriages eerily mirrors Woody's real life (or more likely, his perception of it) at the time: Judy (Mia), a "passive-aggressive" with an unreciprocated desire for more children (in real life, Mia already had 11 children), is neglected by Gabe (Woody), who lusts after his adoring 20-year-old student; Jack (Sydney Pollack) abandons the riotously cynical Sally (Judy Davis) for a ditzy young aerobics instructor. After overcoming the uncomfortable feeling of being a voyeur into Woody's own sordid life, however, the talented performances, the witty dialogue in the face of deep pathos, and the brutally honest examination of marriage make this one of Woody's best. But Jesus, Mia should get some kind of emotional endurance award for making it through the filming. Yuck. MELODY MOSS

Research assistance generously provided by Video Vertigo.

 

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