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Live Freaky! Die Freaky!

Live Freaky! Die Freaky! Poster      John Roecker did this and that about the LA punk scene--publicity, promoting, booking, record producing,rock-video directing, and he even co-owned a punk boutique store with X's Exene. When it was time to make an animated movie, Roecker called in favors. Live Freaky! Die Freaky! is produced by Rancid lead singer, Tim Armstrong, who also supplied a score. Those doing voices include ex-Lunachick Theo Kagan,   X's John Doe, and in the lead, as a belligerent dude called Charlie Hanson, Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong. Charlie Hanson? This brillo-haired psycho is a slightly disguised Charles Manson; and Live Freaky! is a cartoonish retelling of the bloody 60s saga of The Family, climaxing, of course, with the forever-creepy murder of Hollywood actress Sharon Tate, renamed Sharon Hate.

      Supposedly, animators deserted this project mid-film, repulsed by the crude, sexual, deeply violent movie they were being paid to bring to life. It's possible that some were grossed out by what director-writer Roecker asked of them.   My guess is that more employees abandoned ship when they grasped what a total dud was in the making. For one thing, Roecker can't write: what woeful, wall-to-wall speechifying, including lengthy borrowing of Manson's in-your-face rantings. And he's inept at conceiving animation: the rudimentary characters are not far from old socks with lipstick-painted mouths. The scatalogical talk? You'd have to be hopelessly stoned to chuckle at Roecker's array of seedy one-liners.

      The story is told in flashback by imprisoned Hanson-girl murderess, Hadie (Kagan), beginning with her seduction by Hanson--heathen sex beneath a Jesus picture--and her acceptance into the Hanson family. There's a retreat to Death Valley, and a raiding of a grocery-store dumpster for still-edible victuals. As the Hanson gals dig for food, who should come by in a limo to ridicule their hapleas hippydom but snooty Sharon Hate.

      If there's anything truly objectionable about Live Freaky!, it's turning Sharon Tate/Hate into someone who pretty much deserves to be murdered. She's a spoiled-rotten 1968 pre-yuppy who, in the evening of her killing, is seen at her estate, her head and nose buried in cocaine, not caring in the slightest that she's pregnant. Her decadent home companions are a slimy gay man who brags in sordid detail about having anal sex with the handicapped, and a female friend who goes down on Sharon.   Enter Hanson and company for beheadings of the two confidantes and ripping open Sharon's stomach. In terms of the movie's amorality, none of this matters. Still, it's unnerving to hear this litany from the Hanson gang over the hacked-up torsos: "Death does smell a little like head cheese."

      I share the worry of Phoenix media writer, Mark Jurkowitz, in a recent column that the Living Section of the Globe is emphasizing Lifestyle trivia at the expense of serious arts coverage. But I wish to add several salient points concerning Arts Editor Scott Heller, my friend since his Phoenix freelancing days. First, he's the rare Globe Arts Editor   who regularly attends films, concerts, theatre, keeping up first-hand with what's happening in Boston. Second,   he's the person behind the shrewd hirings of Wesley Morris and Ty Burr as Globe film critics, both of whom have proven superb choices.

(Boston Phoenix– January 2005)

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