There has by no means been, nor will there ever be, anybody like GWAR, the metallic outfit hailing from Richmond, Virginia, who gown up as area barbarians, act out all method of onstage obscenity, and spew their audiences with pretend blood, semen, and different sticky bodily fluids. For the previous 4 a long time, GWAR has carved out an entirely distinctive area of interest within the music trade, serving as a nexus level for individuals who love horror films, science fiction, fantasy, comedian books, superheroes, Dungeons & Dragons, punk, and headbanging. They’re the mutant manifestation of each geeky factor in fashionable American standard tradition, and their legacy of gonzo anti-establishment satire, pornographic performance-art pyrotechnics, gory tongue-in-cheek violence, and absurdist mania are all lovingly celebrated by That is GWAR, a non-fiction introduction to a band that long-time member Danielle Stampe (aka Slymenstra Hymen) refers to as “a joke with no punchline.”
As laid out by director Scott Barber’s (The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story) fun-loving documentary (July 21 on Shudder, following a restricted theatrical launch starting July 16), GWAR was the byproduct of a gathering of two idiosyncratic—and, for a time, kindred—minds. In Eighties Richmond, Hunter Jackson was an aspiring and unconventional artist at Virginia Commonwealth College and his efforts to create an out-there cinematic spectacular at The Dairy—a former milk manufacturing unit that had reworked right into a de facto house for inventive collectives, together with Hunter’s personal Slave Pit—led to an encounter with David Brockie, the lead singer of on-the-rise punk band Dying Piggy. By this time, Brockie was already a neighborhood superstar due to his theatrics, comparable to offering audiences with pinatas crammed with quarters, sweet and cat shit, and he instantly took to Hunter and, particularly, the weird film costumes he and his Slave Pit comrades have been creating. One night time, Brockie requested to borrow these get-ups to pose as his personal opening band, dubbed “Gwarggh,” and a perverse phenomenon was born.
That is GWAR options enter from admirers (Thomas Lennon, Ethan Embry, Alex Winter) and nearly everybody who was ever in GWAR—and that’s lots of people, because the band has seen quite a few line-up adjustments over the course of its lengthy historical past. The one notable omission is Brockie himself, because the co-founder and lead singer died of a drug overdose in 2014. Nonetheless, copious photographs, house films, efficiency clips, and different archival materials seize the frontman’s live-wire persona, which quickly compelled him to embrace GWAR as a full-time gig. Regardless of an early breakthrough present at VCU’s Shafer Courtroom, quite a few members abruptly stop—together with Hunter, who opted to take a job in Detroit fairly than pursue any metallic goals. But Brockie soldiered onward, aided by devoted compatriots comparable to Chuck Varga and Don Drakulich, who developed a whole roster of characters for every musician to embody, in addition to an overarching mythos in regards to the band as alien savages hellbent on mayhem and destruction.
At this level, one ought to point out that GWAR is about as profane, disgusting, and outlandish as they arrive, headlined by Brockie as alter ego Oderus Urungus, a loudmouthed goliath with an enormous goo-spewing cuttlefish hanging from his crotch (a goofy phallic creature designed to skirt home obscenity legal guidelines). They’re actually not for everybody, and but after emphasizing musicianship with 1990’s Scumdogs of the Universe LP (on Metallic Blade Information), and with an enhanced reside present stuffed with latex monsters, decapitations and rowdily over-the-top fights, they attracted a loyal following. When Mike Choose made them Beavis and Butthead’s favourite band on the duo’s animated MTV sequence, GWAR discovered itself within the highlight, embraced for each their grotesque craziness and the self-aware humor with which it was delivered.
As admirer (and one-time collaborator) “Bizarre Al” Yankovic says in That is GWAR, “If you happen to’re going to do a present, you placed on a present,” and that ethos—together with a DIY spirit—made the band a cult hit. Attending a GWAR present and getting drenched by geysers of who-knows-what was a ceremony of passage for a lot of a metalhead, and helped create a fanatical fanbase of outcasts who have been drawn to the wild and peculiar corners of the leisure panorama. It additionally turned GWAR into its personal sort of fringe group: a rolling carnival of likeminded artists who have been bonded by their shared love of deranged lunacy. Regardless that contributors modified—attributable to assorted mishaps and conflicts—Barber’s movie paints GWAR as a household, or at the least a fraternal brotherhood guided by a shared imaginative and prescient of bringing ridiculous chaos and insanity to a city close to you.
GWAR’s 1993 Grammy nomination for his or her movie Phallus in Wonderland is maybe probably the most unlikely nod in that award present’s historical past, and naturally resulted within the band attending the ceremony in full barbarian apparel, a lot to the organizers’ chagrin. Such anecdotes are plentiful in That is GWAR, none extra jaw-dropping than the one about guitarist Pete Lee (aka the second Flattus Maximus) getting shot throughout a roadside encounter and almost dying together with his mate Mike Derks (aka Balsac the Jaws of Dying) by his facet. The truth that, after this near-death expertise, Lee saved enjoying with the band whereas boasting a colostomy bag is in line with the gross, reckless, boundary-pushing nature of the band, which persevered regardless of extreme inside clashes between attention-hogging Brockie and insecure Hunter, in addition to a couple of premature demise. GWAR was greater than the sum of its elements, and by incorporating numerous voices into its combine—be it guitarists, bassists, vocalists, or the numerous craftsmen like Matt Maguire and Bob Gorman who created the performers’ costumes, units, and props—it was in a position to survive a raft of ups and downs that might have felled lesser models.
Even within the wake of Brockie’s Viking-funeral send-off, GWAR continues to traverse its personal bonkers path, poking enjoyable at itself and numerous sociopolitical targets, be it regulation enforcement, censorious American politicians or rape-y clergymen. Greater than merely a tribute to unmatched devil-may-care madness, although, That is GWAR is a portrait of inventive misfits who got here collectively to specific themselves by way of grotesque, infantile, and surprisingly revealing outsider artwork. They have been, and nonetheless are, larger-than-life cartoons born from demented imaginations, and Barber’s movie illuminates their absurdity in all its grisly glory.