Music DVD review: Tobacco, Fucked Up Friends Part 2 (with video)

To accompany the music of Black Moth Super Rainbow and Tobacco a strange series of hilarious, violent, random, and disarming found-footage projected behind the band during their live performances was released in 2007; that sequence constituted Tobacco’s (aka Tom Fec, aka Black Moth Super Rainbow) Fucked Up Friends DVD. The sequel Fucked Up Friends Part 2 (which also includes “a microwaved VHS remaster” of the first installment) presents new visual arrangements, similar in technique, displayed alongside tracks from the first Tobacco album Fucked Up Friends and the new album Maniac Meat.

A majority of the 35 minute visual collage is culled from forgotten commercials, lost horror films, music videos, and the deranged randomness discovered when seeking out such warped snippets. The quality of Fucked Up Friends Part 2 is purposely designed to mimic a weathered VHS cassette and even explains on the backside “these discs have no menus.” Pop it in the DVD player and it simply commences with an FBI Warning for copyright infringement and tracking instructions, just like the antiquated technology it replicates.

Offering extremely detailed examples of this jarring and ludicrous DVD would not ruin the entertainment value, but would most likely spoil the shock of its hilarity and grotesqueness. Most simply put, Tobacco has edited together a vivid carnival spook house; and actually during the course of Fucked Up Friends Part 2, we travel through two.

The playfulness, aimed at sidesplitting, is apparent at the first ridiculous image, a long-haired shirtless man air drumming like a loon for a good half a minute.

Then, without warning…

Onward to the Manic Meat track "Fresh Hex" (without Beck’s vocals), The Fat Boys, those cartoonish icons of 80s rap, hijack your attention span, scratching humongous vinyls and standing next to American flags, fireworks, speakers stacked into a robot. And it doesn’t stop even when a new song begins. A hand carrying a match illuminates a lamp, and then the menacing title card “Don’t Go in the House” with an inferno behind the letters, followed by images of ice cream, zombies, flamethrowers, people on fire, men in yellow hats taste-testing ice cream consistency from an industrial vat at the ice cream factory, all juxtaposed randomly and blending into something new and abnormal. The most important theme underlining its eccentric context is the overwhelming nostalgia and exhaustion of viewing such a vast succession of found-footage from the last thirty years in one sitting, as if the tape was an artifact discovered amongst apocalyptic rubble, a discarded object actually taped and retaped over and over again by a mind damaged through multiple viewings of its creation.

The bucket-of-blood violence, outlandishness, and suggestive nudity are amalgamations of memories for attention-deficit kids raised on junk food and watching midnight crap on early cable, always stirring sudden spasms of longing for youth whenever something strangely familiar momentarily appears and acting as an unlikely tether to some long lost zone, a relic, a youthful perspective where wild gore and schlock is understood as silly and enticing: a cheesy safe-sex ad; random horror/sci-fi flicks; a poorly acted video tutorial for The Magic Eye; late night commercials for phone sex; 900 numbers to speak with zombies, werewolves, monsters, and Freddy Krueger; advertisements for the Christian Music Channel; and even somehow Phil Collins wrestling The Ultimate Warrior.

Fragments of unearthed oddities galore, such as the segment of young blondes blowing bubblegum, are tweaked in just the appropriate way, with black bars over their eyes to conceal identities, to add a creepy enhancement that borders on the perverse. The highlight, by far though, must be the bewildering excerpt from what can only be described as the ET porno; no penetration appears and the footage is cropped to hide any sexual activity, yet it fails to eradicate the perplexing apprehension of a beloved icon from childhood tarnished and defiled.

Arranged without plot, the narrative distinguished from the shuffle of unexpected images becomes an exercise in Dadaism, with each of the 15 or so segments designed as an engaging exchange of absurd non-sequiturs. Even with the short run-time Fucked Up Friends Part 2 requires multiple viewings to comprehend and appreciate, and might be best enjoyed on repeat while entertaining a social gathering. Mingling to and from rooms, guests will always discover various portions previously glossed over and unseen, different glimpses and bits and pieces from the avalanche of discarded images, some of which they may actually remember from their adolescence.

5 stars

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