What do John Waters films, classic Troma movies, and lower budget schlock have in common? Fans of all 3 need to check out Brian Dorton’s first feature length film, Trashology. Brian and Douglas Conner had made a variety of shorts, some even including characters featured in this film – in fact, they made nearly 40 shorts together before diving into this feature, including 3 that are featured on Slasher Video’s Trashology Blu-ray… Kill Cecile, Sex Lies & Melissa, and Smokers Anonymous. After over 3 dozen shorts, the dynamic duo decided it was time to do a feature, with what they believed to be a very apt title:
It’s a trashy anthology so I just put the words together and later discovered it was actually an existing word.
And, that’s where we begin with our new weekly column, Tuesdays with Dorty. As the esteemed Mr. Dorton inches closer to the release of Early Morning Calm, his latest entry into the underground horror world, we decided to dive head first into his catalog leading up to this point. While there are a few short films – ok, as noted above, it’s well more than “a few” – that pre-date Trashology, we begin our journey with the trashy low-budget anthology comedy as our first point in Dorton’s career. Along with his partner in cinematic crime, one Mr. Douglas Connor, Brian began his foray into the world of feature films with the decidedly gross and irreverent group of stories we have grouped together as 2012’s Thrashology. With an obvious comparison to be made to the early work of John Waters, the film lives squarely in that world of outlaw scat comedy that Waters truly defined and others continue to play in the litter box of.
As to other influences you may find in Trashology, including the great Sultan of Sleaze:
At the time of making the film we weren’t really thinking about the comparison. It was after people had seen the film and would tell us “it’s very John Waters” that we were like wow and really took that as a compliment…
…Andy Warhol, Ken Russell… one even said the camera work and close ups on weird characters gave them David Lynch vibes.
To these, it’s certainly fair to cite some of Lloyd Kauffman’s classic Troma work and, perhaps, the work of Frank Hennenlotter, as both of these two indie filmmakers seem to have a lot of aesthetic similarities to the work of Dorton and Connor in this first Trashology film.
Dorton is very self-aware that this early work isn’t his strongest, but that’s to be expected. In fact, he’s very realistic about how they were “learning on the job” with this film. But he’s kinda wrong on one point…
We were learning a lot as we went along. We’re still learning. It’s a movie I feel people will get or won’t… love or hate. No in-between.
He’s wrong because I’m that in between. Just like how I feel about early John Waters, I find this film to be something I can appreciate but certainly couldn’t say I love it. I’m very firmly in between, able to sing its merits and able to enjoy moments – but also completelyt able to say that it’s nopt really for me and I don’t completely vibe with the trash humor or aesthetics at times.
While I’m admittedly not as head over heals in love with this film, it’s one that shows promise and is impressive as a starting point. If I were to venture a guess as to where I’m headed on this retrospective, I’d bet that I’ll appreciate Dorton’s filmography a bit more with each entry, both in its craft and its aesthetic… but we won’t know until the project leads me to where I’m going.
What is certain, however, is that Trashology is the type of film that shouldn’t be ignored. Check it out by grabbing yourself a copy through Amazon, Grindhouse Video, or your favorite purveyor of trashy Blu-rays AND come back next week for the next installment in Tuesdays with Dorty.