I watched this with some friends – we’d been told it was the sickest, goriest movie ever made.
It wasn’t very good. I don’t know what else to tell you. The tagline is “AUGUST UNDERGROUND’S MORDUM WILL VOMIT ALL OVER YOU AND LEAVE YOU FOR DEAD!” That sounds pretty hardcore. Does it have that effect every time? I’m not sure I’ll rewatch it much. They should have toned it down, so that it only acid-burps in your face and leaves you with a faint sense of despondency.
It’s a fake snuff film – shot in a deliberately amateurish style – about a trio of serial killers, who record their crimes. They have sex with each other, mutilate themselves, go to a crack den, kill someone, and then a fifth event occurs, and then a sixth, and then a seventh. If you like movies with events, you’re in luck! This one has so many of them!
August Underground’s Mordum doesn’t have a story, it has incidents. The scenes could be rearranged in almost any order. The dialog consists of shouting and profanity. The characters have names like “Crusty” and “Maggot”. The cinematography consists of flailing shakycam that made me literally nauseous – surely if there’s one positive trait serial killers possess, it’s calm, steady hands?
It’s artless, boring, and dismaying. The writing is so blandly and forgettably stupid that I fully expected a character to say “As an AI language model, I am programmed to follow ethical guidelines.”
Whiles, Cristie: [cutting herself deeply in the chest with a piece of glass] Do you fucking like it?
Vogel, Fred: Shit yeah I like it!
Whiles, Cristie: Why don’t you jerk off on it, fucker?
No, I don’t know what August Underground’s Mordum means. There’s nobody and nothing called “August Underground” in the movie, and “Mordum” isn’t a word – though, pronounced phonetically, it absolutely becomes a description.
The film has serious Marilyn Manson Now Going Door-To-Door Trying To Shock People energy – it’s trying hard to be the most outrageous thing you’ve ever seen, so much so that it backfires and becomes not shocking at all. The actors are often visibly uncomfortable with what they’re asked to do, which is funny. The climactic final scene involves the character Maggot raping a dead body in a bathtub. He gives it some fake, half-hearted humps, like a frat pledge trying not to look gay. At no point does his pelvis touch anything except air.
The runtime is padded out with pointless crap, like a scene of Maggot getting a septum piercing. There’s actually a term for this: “Shoot the rodeo”. Is your movie too short? Just scrounge around your camera’s SD card for some unrelated footage, and suddenly it’s not. The concluding shot is of a cat eating a mouse.
The thing about August Underground’s Mordum is that you can basically know everything about it just from a single detail. Do I give an in-depth discussion, or can I just mention that it has characters called “Maggot” and “Crusty”? Or that the director fronts a death metal band? Or that the production company is called Toetag Pictures, and their website has a .biz TLD, like all serious big-boy websites?
A toe tag, by the way, is a piece of cardboard that is fitted around a corpse’s toe, providing identifying information to the coroner. Most morgues haven’t used toe tags for a long time – now there’s an ankle bracelet. But it fits the company’s approach to invoke a cliche that’s twenty years out of date.
August Underground’s Mordum seeks to recreate the flat, naturalistic affect of Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer, and the gooberish “OMG, is it real??” rubberneck-factor of Cannibal Holocaust or Guinea Pig 2. Those are old movies. And they didn’t seek to be mistaken as real, it happened by accident.
As Dave Kehr noted once, “It is a curious attribute of camp that it can only be found, not made.” You can’t really click your heels and wish your movie into cult status. It has to happen organically, and accidentally. This is exactly one of those try-hard “let me into the canon!” manufacted camp classics that Kehr writes about. There’s a reason The Room will be remembered forever, while the word Sharknado already has no meaning to anyone.
This film is the middle child in a trilogy of films. I briefly considered watching the first or the second, but then I decided to watch HR Pufnstuf instead. That’s a good example of August Underground’s Mordum‘s strike rate: it loses a battle against HR Pufnstuf.$i;?>
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