Tag Archives: Rose McGowan




FEATURING: , , Johnathon Schaech

PLOT: Three teenagers have sex and go on a murder spree.

Still from The Doom Generation (1995)

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: With lots of low-comedy shocks but very little outright weirdness, The Doom Generation is a shallow, unilluminating wallow in hyperironic misery. The best thing I can say about this movie is that it makes Akari’s followup, Nowhere, seem mature and clever by comparison.

COMMENTS: The main characters are a slut, an idiot, and a psycho. It’s never a good sign when the audience hates all three of the principals and hopes that they will die. Instead, the trio kill a bunch of people who are probably as loathsome as they are—but we never get the chance to find out for sure, because we’re stuck following these losers on their tour of American convenience stores and motel rooms. The only possible reason to like these characters would be the Bonnie-and-Clyde affair between Amy and Jordan, but Araki sabotages that possibility by making the male a spineless cuckold, and granting the female’s selfish fantasy of banging the bad boy while keeping her sweet doting lover on the side. Meanwhile, there’s nothing at all redeemable about third-wheel Xavier, who exists only to seduce these two lost souls into a life of slaughter that, we assume, is meant to play as their logical reaction to the superficial consumerist society they find themselves trapped in.

The Doom Generation is a painfully tone-deaf satire that tries for the trashy camp of , but actually has the comic sensibilities of Dude, Where’s My Car? To wit: the decapitated Asian Quickiemart clerk’s name is—get this—“Nguyen Kok Suk.” Heh heh, brilliant: pass that bong, brah. I suppose the meta-joke is supposed to be that Araki is crafting a movie that’s so dumb that his characters—kids given to uttering self-pitying lines like “there’s just no place for us in this world”—would think was deep. A newswoman characterizes the skull earring found at a crime scene as “the type sold most frequently in ‘rock and roll’ paraphernalia shops, often worn by homosexuals, Satanists, and members of other dangerous cult groups.” This, of course, is the way clueless teenagers imagine clueless adults talk about them. Araki lays the irony on so thick that we can’t tell whether he’s secretly fond of these kids (whose only good act is to bury a dog they accidentally kill), or is just using them for the sex and murder money shots he needs to keep the audience feeling smug, titillated and jaded.

The characters surnames are Red, White and Blue, and every time they purchase something at a convenience store or drive-thru, the cash register rings up “$6.66.” Is Araki implying that America is hell? I can’t tell. The only good points about the movie are the art direction, Rose McGowan’s performance (a confident debut in her first starring role), and a somewhat amusing running joke where Amy keeps running into old lovers she denies knowing. The only weird points are the severed head that keeps talking after it flies off its body and the green screen news broadcast where vapid talking heads deliver campy copy over grisly crime scene footage. Otherwise, this is a tedious tale of three unpleasant people wandering around and killing things until their movie ends. It should have been titled The Dim Generation.

Lest one I assume I have some personal vendetta against Gregg Araki, note that I gave The Mysterious Skin a “Must See” rating. It’s hard to imagine that that intelligent and emotionally shattering drama, which tackles the subject of youthful disaffection with authenticity and compassion rather than sick jokes, was the work of the same director as the self-consciously hip Doom Generation. The difference in quality results from Araki, a great stylist but not a great thinker, adapting someone else’s material rather than writing his own.


“… structured as an apocalyptic journey into the unknown — America’s wastelands — but this time the road comedy is hallucinatory and psychedelic, in a style reminiscent of ‘Natural Born Killers,’ though blessedly lacking Oliver Stone’s blatant message and obvious satire… The trio flee into a bizarre world of nightmarish violence and omnipresent danger that gets darker and darker as their odyssey progresses.”–Emanuel Levy, Variety (contemporaneous)

(This movie was nominated for review by “Eva”. Suggest a weird movie of your own here.)



FEATURING: Nick Stahl, , Amy Smart

PLOT: Haunted by the memory of a car crash, a lonely funeral assistant fakes his own

death. Tracking a mystery mourner, he finds himself tangled in intrigue while suffering from bizarre, piecemeal flashbacks from his discordant, seemingly supernaturally influenced past.

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST:  While Dead Awake captures our imagination at first with ominous flashbacks and peculiar visions which emphasize details in a way that foreshadow profound significance, none of these clues pan out to reveal an extraordinary plot.  The method of revelation builds interest in previous events that turn out to be not very mysterious once we are let in on their meaning.  Worse, at about the halfway point, the story becomes a derivative, conventional chiller.

COMMENTS:  The setup:  Nick Stahl plays sullen, skulking  funeral director who stages his own death to see if old friends will arrive at his funeral.  When an enigmatic young woman comes to mutter cryptic utterances over his “corpse,” he follows her and has some unusual misadventures.  In the meantime, he flirts with an ex-girlfriend who also came to his viewing, unlocking a cascade of strange memories and guilt about some mysterious, previous tragedy that broke them apart.  Eventually, we find out how both women are connected to  Nick’s past and to his haunting recollections.

Sounds like the makings of a real whiz-bang chiller-thriller, right?  Wrong!  What a massive disappointment. I was expecting something clever, brooding and supernatural like Dark Corners, and that’s how Dead Awake starts out. There is a mysterious car crash, a mortuary attendant faking his own funeral, a mysterious griever talking in riddles, indications that half the characters may be dead and not know it, and eerie flashbacks wrought with hidden symbolic meaning.

The non-linear plot, dark tone and twists and turns made me think I was in for a real doozy of a story.  And then the film peters out.  The flashbacks reveal no great mystery, the symbolism turns out to be arbitrary and empty, and real ideas are replaced with melodrama, over-acting and a grandiose musical score that is more fitting of a sweeping historical epic.  The score seems calculated to try to fool the viewer into thinking he is watching something more important than he really is (it didn’t work).

The movie wraps up with an unlikely stretch of a “climax” (more of an anti-climax) and a corny, happy (more like sappy) ending with a lame and very mild twist that opens up a bunch of plot holes.

I paid money for this???  I swear, no more poppy juice and Colt .45 before I read DVD jackets at the video store.

I saw that Nick Stahl was in this and so far, I have seen him in three other movies that turned out to be artistic, independent, and pretty good, so I took a gamble.  Mind you, Dead Awake is not a bad movie.  It doesn’t smack of major studio schlock.  The problem is that is promises to be so darned intriguing and then drops the ball, almost as if a writers strike led to someone with no imagination completing the script from the halfway point.

Rose McGowan, formerly a delicious woman, looks just . . . awful, post plastic surgery.


“A poorly structured and even more poorly shot mixture of a gothic suspense thriller with a vanilla romance filmed in Des Moines, “Dead Awake” never comes close to springing to life.”–Mark Olsen, The Los Angeles Times (contemporaneous)

Dead Awake trailer