Final Flesh is a bizarre 2009 experimental comedy from Wonder Showzen co-creator Vernon Chatman. Divided into four segments the basis of the story centers around a family moments before an atomic bomb annihilates Earth. The hook here is that Chatman anonymously hired adult fetish video performers to act out his insane doomsday scripts. The result is an inadvertent collision of comedy and WTF weirdness. AGFA and Drag City bring Final Flesh to Blu-ray with a solid A/V package coupled with enough bonus features to please fans of the film. For Fans Only.
“Why don’t we use reverse democracy on them?”
With credits like The Heart, She Holler, Wonder Showzen, and China, IL writer/director Cernon Chatman is no stranger to the outrageous and hilarious. The opening text crawl of his 2009 bizarre film Final Flesh prepares you for the level of surreal nonsense you’ll experience ahead.
“Bewildered Sexmaritans were sent Vernon Chatman’s Purest Truths in 4 scripts commissioning an 8 part pre-apocolyptic triptych in D Minor to test the inadvertent sensual limits of the Flesh Psyche. The Atom Bomb is about to drop.”
The first segment of Final Flesh introduces us to the Pollard family as they wake from a dream and realize the world is about to end. Mrs. Pollard can’t turn on the shower but instead bathes in the Tears of Neglected Children. Oh, and Angel Blood as well with some Tears of Corrupt Politicians. The daughter reads the Koran on the toilet in the Psycho Burn Ward. She comes back and lays an egg in her panties while her dad sniffs their armpits. Mom and daughter then give birth to a cantaloupe and a steak before Dad returns to his infantile state. Needless to say, these performances are hilarious if you're along for the ride. Each of the following three segments involves a similar family waking up from a dream before churning through the dialogue conceived in an out-of-body state of consciousness.
Over the course of 7 years, Chatman anonymously commissioned the four segments from different production companies specializing in custom fetish videos. Each was sent a bizarre non-sequitur-filled script with the explicit direction of sticking to the words exactly but leaving the rest up to their discretion. While there is no sex in this these segments there is rampant nudity and suggestive moments throughout making each avant-garde segment too racy for primetime. His point in this exercise was to create an inadvertent comedy if the purpose wasn’t revealed to the performers. It totally works if you’re willing to see it as an experiment and not a cruel joke played on the unsuspecting performers.
Chatman’s career in animation allowed him to exert absolute creative control over his work but with Final Flesh he relinquished control to these performers who would see his vision through their interpretation of the material. The performers handle the material in strikingly different ways which adds to the compelling desire to see this thing through. It plays like an art film you’d see at an exhibit on existentialism at the MoMa or on the TV channel from Videodrome. Either way, it's a win, right?
Where Final Flesh works for me is witnessing the cast’s commitment to the material while fighting off their constant urges to have sex. It burns in them like fighting off a sneeze. They make every attempt to channel the ethos of the insane material they’re given but easily fall into their pornstar mannerisms overselling anytime they need to touch themselves. The results are hilarious but your mileage may vary. Chatman created something utterly surreal with Final Flesh that comments on the intersection of media, art, and our own weird desires.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Final Flesh arrives on Blu-ray thanks to AGFA and Drag City. The film is pressed onto a Region Free 50GB disc housed in a transparent keepcase with the title card artwork on the reverse side. Loading the disc offers the Main Menu screen with scenes playing adjacent to the menu options.
Final Flesh is presented in both 1.33:1 and 1.78:1 aspect ratios with the 1080i HD image upscaled from the original resolution. The SD digital sources offer a serviceable presentation with discernible colors and textures. Primaries are readable but constantly in flux. The four segments are all filmed indoors using available lighting with abrupt changes in shadow and color balance. While distortion is prevalent there is a fair amount of detail present with this HD image. Closeups and Medium shots reveal some facial features and moderate costume detail. Fluctuations occur between segments but overall the quality presented here is steps above most SD digital productions of this caliber.
The 2.0 DTS-HD MA mix for Final Flesh supports the material confidently with each segment reproducing dialogue exchanges clearly. Production noises abound as the cast move through rooms and interact with props. Music and effects are mixed into the audio track with very little subtlety which compliments the bizarre hapenings on screen.
The bonus materials for Final Flesh aren’t extensive but for a surreal experiment like this you don’t really need more. I recommend starting with the outtakes then move through the other features before you rewatch the film with the Alternate Score.
Final Flesh is a bizarre experiment that dabbles in surreal comedy, body horror, and existential playfulness thanks to the dedication of adult film actors struggling to bring Chatman’s scripts to life. Adventurous viewers will need some patience to sit through the insane dialogue and the repetitive nature of the segments. As an oddity it strikes all the right notes needed to inspire a rabid following. I found the film to be an interesting and entertaining effort that subverted my expectations. AGFA and Drag City bring Final Flesh to Blu-ray with a serviceable A/V package coupled with enough bonus features to please fans of the film. For Fans Only.