"No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream." -Shirley Jackson
The trailer for the art-house horror Coyote has been released and I have been pleasantly surprised to see it get covered on so many of the blogs and websites that have stuff like readers and good writing. Most of these sites are primarily dedicated to horror and have described the trailer as "intriguing" and "creepy" and I have to agree, but since this is a blog which is primarily dedicated to exploitation films I feel compelled to add my two cents and explain why I can't wait to see the film.
But first some details from the Press Release:
The first trailer for COYOTE, an art-house horror film from director Trevor Juenger has been released. In the film Bill Oberst Jr. plays an insomniac writer whose sleep-deprived hallucinations distort reality until his paranoia leads him to extreme violence. COYOTE also stars Bill Finkbiner, Victoria Mullen and Tasha Zebrowski.St. Louis-based director Trevor Juenger wrote the script for the micro-budget feature with Oberst in mind and flew the actor to the midwest for a month of filming during the worst heatwave in decades. Oberst says "That script was brutal, raw, explicit and offensive. The shoot was even more so. This film won't be for everyone. But Juenger reminds me so much of a young Lynch with a dash of Cronenberg that I had to work him. I couldn't resist. We did this with no money, only passion for the experiment."Of his lead actor Juenger says, "I was listening to an interview with Bill Oberst Jr. today where he said his best asset is keeping quiet. Well, I have to disagree. I like a belligerent, aggressive, maniacal Bill Oberst Jr., screaming and threatening people. That's the strength. I don't think real mental illness is a quiet one. Bill embodies the abusive dad, boyfriend, or whatever misogynistic ugliness you experienced growing up. You can't stand up to him when he's on the screen. Instead, he leaves you like a battered housewife, exhausted and helpless, yet attracted to the abuse.
COYOTE is an attempt to blend the arthouse genre, in which Juenger has primarily worked, with horror. The director admits it is a risky experiment: "If this is a horror movie (everyone assures me it is), it's unlike any horror film I've seen. I think we used the horror fundamentals that fit, and then threw away the book. Good, bad, revolting, or brilliant, I can't quite say. I can say its something fresh though. Someone called it David Lynch directs FALLING DOWN. As much as I hate the Lynch comparisons, I thought that was fitting. It's what I wanted to see. I hope you feel the same."
When I first heard about this project and read a portion of the script I was immediately reminded of early David Cronenberg and his body-horror films like Rabid, Shivers ("Even dying is an act of eroticism"), The Fly and Videodrome. I was also reminded of some of the works of Stephen King where rage/malevolence/evil lies simmering in an unsuspecting host and manifests under the right conditions; Carrie, Secret Window, The Dark Half. Now that the trailer for Coyote has been released I can also see the surreal, dreamlike or perhaps nightmarish quality of David Lynch. And I have to admit that the dark, claustrophobic and striking visuals in the trailer look vastly superior to what my imagination could conjure up while reading the excerpts from the screenplay.
Coyote is described as an experimental hybrid of art-house (you should check out Juenger's previous work on Vimeo) and horror, but it seems like it could even be classified as an exploitation film. So can it?
But among these business men there also existed socially aware artists who used these same "depraved" themes to make movies of genuine artist merit with socially relevant messages that have become cinematic classics. The line between art and exploitation has become blurred. Even some movies that were conceived of and filmed as "art films" could not make it past the censors and were shown in grindhouse theaters alongside the exploitation films which were intentionally made to be shown in such shady venues. We tend to think of exploitation as low-brow titty movies like Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS and Bloodsucking Freaks and forget about films like Carnival of Souls or Night of the Living Dead or Vanishing Point. So if the money making aspect is removed from the definition, "exploitation" is such a loose term that any film that is made on a relatively low budget, outside of mainstream Hollywood and with questionable moral standards can be considered part of the genre. So Coyote is an exploitation film? Perhaps.
Movies are made to appeal to an audience. I mean, it just seems like common sense. But Trevor Juenger made Coyote to appeal to no one. Even exploitation films are meant to captivate an audience by showing what is taboo or what should disgust but paradoxically attracts the audience instead: like being unable to look away from the twisted, bloodied bodies of a car accident or watching the girl next door undress before going to bed. You know you shouldn't look but you can't help it. The subject matter is forbidden or so gruesome that it's simultaneously disgusting and thrilling. But still these movies appeal to people, directors know this and exploit our depraved, voyeuristic tendencies. That's how tickets are sold.
"People are going to hate this movie, man – HATE IT! ...They’re going to be completely immersed in mental illness as they watch it, and frankly, I don’t think that’s going to be a pleasurable experience for many people." - director Trevor Juenger
And this is why I'm looking forward to watching Coyote. Juenger doesn't care if people like his movie or not. We get to see an artist's vision without all of the BS of trying to make the movie appeal to a wide audience or be successful commercially. It's art for art's sake. In this way Coyote goes beyond the exploitation genre and leaves us back at arthouse horror, but frankly I don't really care to what genre it belongs. I have respect for a director who intentionally makes his audience suffer along with his protagonist. It takes balls. There is no doubt that he is a talented young director who isn't afraid to challenge the audience and I don't know of many filmmakers who strive to make the viewer feel genuinely uncomfortable while watching their movie. Sure there are exploitation directors who try to make us squirm when we watch their films, but they do it because they know the audience is going to like it. Juenger does it because we are going to hate it. From what I've read about the film, watching it really is going to be like getting ass raped. The experience isn't going to be pleasant, there may be unexpected moments of pleasure in it, but overall it's going to be a traumatic experience and it's going to stay with you for a very long time. I can't wait. Bring on the ass rapin'!
While watching the trailer, Roman Polanski's Repulsion came to mind with its isolated, paranoid and claustrophobic feeling as the protagonist descended into madness. Of course, with that film we suffered with Catherine Deneuve who pranced around in a translucent nightgown. In Coyote we get a half naked Bill Oberst Jr. with an animal skin on his head. Which audience will suffer more do you think? Maybe Juenger just created a new exploitation genre by exploiting Bill's willingness to do anything to make a movie. Oberstploitation?
Seriously though, keep an eye on Trevor Juenger. He may very well be the next Cronenberg or Lynch or Polanski, but hopefully without the rape charges. Zing!
Since this is a blog with an emphasis on the boobies found within these kinds of movies, I must also add that Bill Oberst Jr. has assured me that Tasha Zebrowski has a full frontal scene in the movie, that "She is flawless" and that for the thumb-sucking scene he was "having trouble pretending to be unconscious."
Ok, I think I'm done rambling.
Coyote Trailer from Trevor Juenger on Vimeo.