Life is miserable for poor ninth grader Corey Gorey (Todd Fortune). He not only has to adjust to life in a new town and school, but his dad recently passed away in a car accident, leaving him in the care of his terrible stepmother, Betty (Pat Gallagher). Betty is a hateful, miserable, overweight, foul-mouthed drunk who sits around all day on the couch watching soap operas, sucks down Coors by the case and screams so much the neighbors are constantly poking their head outside to see what all the commotion is about. Corey's racist ("Probably one of them nigger neighbors!"), drug-addled, good ole boy stepbrother Biff (Greg Sachs) is certainly no better. He constantly trips, hits, pushes and insults ("You little fuckin' turd!") Corey, steals from him and does things to intentionally rile up the mother just so she'll attack him. Corey is beaten daily, tied to a curtain rod with a belt around his neck like a noose and is pelted with empty beer cans. His eye is always black. His face is always cut up. His list of chores is endless while his stepmother and brother lazily sit around chastising him.
These scenes of a white trash hell family are all extremely over-the-top and intentionally played for tasteless comedy, similar to the way someone like John Waters or Todd Solondz would approach similar warped family dynamics. The only difference is Morroni (who co-scripted with Cheryl A. Fennell) lacks Waters' clever dialogue and witty insults and doesn't possess the more teetering-on-hyperbolic-yet-still-grounded-in-reality satirical edge of Solondz. That results in scenes that are extremely unsubtle, base and crude, which is not to say his approach is entirely ineffectual. It's just different.
Corey's at that age where he's just starting to become interested in girls and it's love at first sight when he lays eyes on the pretty though slightly older Jackie Freeman (Brenda Pope). Regardless of how good she looks in her collection of mini-skirts and Lycra shorts, she's a bit of a snob ("I wouldn't be caught dead with a ninth grader!") and kind of bitchy ("What the fuck are you looking at?"). Still, her aesthetic attributes keep Corey's interest and he hopes to impress her by scoring a couple of Ozzy Osbourne tickets and sneaking them into her bedroom. While he's there, he steals a pair of panties (after gleefully sniffing them) and then hides them underneath his mattress at home. Step-bro Biff steals his ticket, goes to the concert in his place and returns later that night claiming he "plowed the shit out of" Jackie "in a gas station toilet." This leads to a fight, which leads to Biff going through the glass shower door, which leads to his arm getting sliced off, which leads to him bleeding to death. Corey chops the body up and hides the pieces in the freezer.
After Betty refuses to let Corey go to a school dance ("Your school is run by shit-faced Communist liberals so if you think I'm gonna let you go out and get a bimbo slut pregnant, you better think about it again!") he smashes a (real) cockroach and hides it under a piece of pepperoni on her pizza. He then puts sleeping pills in her Stove Top stuffing and, after she passes out, takes the opportunity to tie her up, gag her and raid her purse. And no more sleeping on a dirty mattress in the utility room... Corey gets to actually move into the house and take over his brother's bedroom, which is decorated with skulls, a giant Swastika flag and a Traci Lords New Wave Hookers poster.
Jackie comes over and finds out everything Corey's been up to. However, she also has a shitty home life that includes a big-haired drunk of a mom and a stepdad who keeps trying to molest her, so she's willing to strike up a bargain with him. Biff supposedly has a pound of cocaine somewhere in the house. If the two can find it and sell it, they'll have enough money to run away and leave their miserable home lives. Sounds good enough for Corey, although their plans are constantly in threat of being derailed by a number of people, including an angry "beaner" drug dealer (Sabino Villa Lobos) the brother owes money to, annoyed neighbors, a couple of cops and even an escaped serial killer on the loose, not to mention the mother (who stays tied up on the couch begging for beer for most of the movie... including through an entire kegger party!) and Jackie herself (who proves not to be a girl of her word).
Quite difficult to evaluate this one. It's a mix bag of good stuff, not-so-good stuff and even worse stuff that's so bad it actually becomes something of an attribute; adding a lot of character and overall entertainment value to the film. This is basically the perfect embodiment of ultra low-budget, warts-and-all independent cinema, where some of the biggest rewards come from looking past the various problems caused by the lack of experience and funds and seeing the genuine effort and ambition lurking underneath. This film actually has some of that.
The most obvious technical issue here is very poor and inconsistent sound quality. That's because this was shot without sound and the dialogue all had to be looped in later. As a result, most of the line deliveries are flat, unnatural-sounding and stilted. I'm not even sure if the same actors came back to record their own dialogue or if other actors were used. Despite that, the young male lead still manages to come off pretty well and most of the others are at least entertaining.
This film also "boasts" some truly insane tonal shifts if you're into that kind of thing. One minute it's quirky, lighthearted, showing small signs of having a heart and even cutesy and on the other hand it's vulgar, crude and very mean-spirited. There are a number of murder / death scenes, most of which are played for sick laughs. After a snoopy mail lady (Kristin Caruso) gets smashed under a parked car in one scene, Corey's shown putting her hand through a meat grinder and pattying out a "hamburger" to feed to his mother the next. However, Corey's frequent nightmare scenes of victims (some - though not all - of whom were accidentally killed) coming back to kill him are played entirely seriously.
There are a number of cringe-inducing scenes involving Corey's neighbor Yolanda (Edenia Scudder), a sweet black girl at his high school who keeps trying to befriend him and repeatedly gets rejected. When Jackie catches Corey and her talking, she chews him out for "flirting with that flat-chested little nigger girl." Later, Corey himself even runs her off by telling her "I don't need some stupid skinny little nigger as a friend!" These bits are definitely uncomfortable to watch and had me wondering why they were even in here to begin with, aside from just adding to the shock value. I'm still thinking about that, but they are true to character seeing how most of the people who populate this film are truly detestable, and this movie does seem to be striving to create its own universe of ugly reality. It's also worth noting that Yolanda and her parents are about the only people in the entire movie any sane person would even want to associate with.
Shot on 16mm for 15,000 dollars, this also features a glam metal score from a KISS-copycat band called Creature, who are frequently seen on a TV set. The director claims that Divine was originally cast to play the stepmother, and he would have been absolutely perfect for the role. However, funding fell through and then Divine passed away before filming began. Still, you can tell the actress playing the stepmother (or whoever dubbed her) is trying to mimic Divine's usual hoarse, campy, over-the-top line delivery. This also appears to have some porn connections, though I'm not sure just how deep those go. A well-endowed blonde who looks plucked right out of a late 80s adult film does a topless scene in the back of a van, there's a plug for Hustler magazine and it was shot by John Keeler, who worked on over 200 adults films under the name "Jane Waters." Keeler, who appears in a small role here as well, was also the editor of the aforementioned New Wave Hookers and frequently worked for top porn distributor Essex Video. A David Essex is given special thanks in the end credits.
Was there ever a legitimate VHS release for this film? None that I'm aware of. Though primarily shot in 1989, the copyright date in the end credits is 1993. That four year gap between is probably how long it took the makers to dub it and put all the pieces together. I could also find no evidence of this ever playing theatrically and have never run across an actual poster for the film. IMDb gives the release year as 1993 and claims that Tapeworm distributed it, though, again, I could find no evidence of either of those claims. In fact, the earliest legitimate release I've found is a bare bones DVD from DML (Digital Multimedia Limited) in 2001. This was also later included in the 10 film set "Night Chills" distributed by Brentwood in 2004, as well as their 12 film set "Blood Soaked Cinema: Kiss of Death," released in 2005. In 2008, the director put an "uncut director's copy" of this online to view for free but the Little Corey Gorey website has since been taken down.