Review – Mod Fuck Explosion (1994)
Mod Fuck Explosion (USA, 1994) dir. Jon Moritsugu. Feature film. Color, 16mm.
Strange, satirical, irreverent tale of teenagers in a toxic, postmodern world of mods and rockers, drugs, and kitschy trash culture materialism, Mod Fuck Explosion follows a girl named London (Amy Davis) whose greatest wish is to have her own leather jacket.
It takes a bit of adjusting to get into the world of the film, where the gang of mods affect intentionally-cheesy “villainous” pretentious posturing and the gang of rockers, called the “Nipponese” biker gang (led by Kazumi, who is played by the director) speak in intentionally-bad dubbed-over English.
Almost everything in the film is bitingly satirical and double-edged in nature. The acting, the punk and indie soundtrack (featuring a spectrum of artists from both the USA and Japan), and at times the script often seem to mock themselves.
Nothing is sacred, not even the idea of mods and rockers lifted straight from the early ‘60s subcultures in the U.K.: the mod girls only care about sex, and both mod and rocker gang members act ridiculous and overblown, especially mod leader Madball (Jacques Boyreau).
In fact, when the film was once shown in a double feature with mod favorite Quadrophenia, an upset mod in the audience threatened Moritsugu.
The destruction continues with London’s home life, a disaster both physically and internally, whether it’s her drug-addicted, horny mother (Bonnie Steiger) or her mod brother X-Ray Spex (Victor Fischbarg) whose mannerisms are as bizarre as his sense of “humor.” Her sister Nasty (Lisa Guay), a (punk) rocker, lives alone where she draws comics, a hero to people as “sick” as her. London’s room is a pastiche of kitschy mess, as is the somewhat-nauseating bathroom.
“Trash culture” and kitschy visuals create the unique world of the film and its multiple messages of meaninglessness. London’s fantasies of her leather jacket show her in overdone Marilyn Monroe-style glamour caressing her arms. She has dreams of walking through raw meat in a slaughterhouse. Even some of the music itself seems utterly pointless, though not to the characters enjoying it; the names of London’s favorite albums are such profanity-laden gems as “Welcome to Fucker.”
Under the surface, an interesting question of “where one’s loyalties lie” is also raised – can one go through the teenage years happily without “choosing sides?” Does one have to identify with a (sub)culture? This is made more interesting by the film’s Asian-American context – does the gangs’ rivalry stem from subculture clash or [racial] culture clash?
This film is great proof that a low-budget, uber-independent film can still create new, mesmerizing worlds and situations removed from everyday life. Even in the “indie film” scene, making a movie costs a substantial sum of money. Moritsugu is a part of what can only be described as the “indie-indie” scene, working in 16mm and sometimes in videotape.
The satire, once you get used to it, is amusing, and fans of any of the represented subcultures won’t be totally disappointed. What drew me to the theater in the first place was my interest in mod, and I loved the scooters, clothes, and irreverent parody of mods and gang conflict. Though the film is amateurish and overly campy at times, these qualities are only part of its shocking and fascinating oeuvre, which, like its punk soundtrack, walks a fine line between art and “noise.”
Availability: Region 1 DVD, VHS.
Official Website: http://jonmoritsugu.com/films/stills.php?film=mod_fuck