By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
It’s funny, in a guilty-pleasure, admittedly gross kind of way, and while some admire Roecker’s brazen approach, even comparing his chutzpah to Pink Flamingos–era John Waters, in general the critics have not been too kind.
Nerve.com said it “suffers from a grotesquely inflated sense of its own transgressiveness,” while Fangoria (of all pubs!) called it “puerile and lowest common denominator.” One reviewer, from the popular Web site Entertainment Insiders, went so far as to say, “I want this film to fail! I want the people involved in this film to be so overcome by remorse for their actions that they crawl on their knees up to the families of Charlie Manson’s victims and beg forgiveness for their cruel callous indifference. Fuck every one of you involved in this film.”
Whoa. Roecker knew he was gonna have to deal with some haters, particularly because of the movie’s pornographic scenes, but even he seems surprised by some of the reactions. “When the movie first came out we got rejected by every film festival,” he says. “I was told I was morally irresponsible. I went too far this time. I thought, ‘Oh my god, I wasted 10 years of my life making a film that no one’s going to see.’ I mean, remember back in the early ’90s when nothing was shocking? Now it’s like we’re living in the 1950s again.”
“They wanted him to change or take stuff out,” says Tim Armstrong, whom Roecker thanked ardently during an Oscar-like speech at the release party. “But I told him not to. It was important he stay true to his original vision.”
Indeed, Roecker’s little movie is, clay penises and all, exactly how he envisioned it, a form of “artistic terrorism” that yields to nothing. And despite the naysayers, he plans to carry on making more provocative, likely-to-be-reviled works with Armstrong, and with other directors he admires, including Caouette, whom he’s in talks with about making a horror movie (with real flesh-and-blood actors). He also just started a documentary called Satan Goes to the Movies about how Hollywood misconstrues Satanism.
Whatever Roecker works on in the future, you can be sure it won’t be conventional or safe entertainment, or even something his family members will be able to watch. He says his parents “aren’t allowed” to see Freaky.
And if the messages he’s trying to get across get lost amid the shock and schlock?
“All stories, including the Bible, are fairy tales,” he says. “It’s all so extreme, and you have to be an extremist when you’re trying to get your point across. There’s good and there’s evil and there’s nothing in between. That’s how I was taught. So all I want to do is flip it. I make the good the bad, and the bad the good. I’m not going to sit there and hold someone’s hand so they can get it, and I don’t think I have to.”
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