After his new film “ Vainglorious Scumbags” opened to rave reviews Legalienate interviewed Hollywood’s foremost maker of shockingly straightforward and successfully horrible films, Fenwick Garbagino.
You are a student of old film who delights in making new ones which quote from the old classics while introducing new techniques of brutality and grossness unknown to old directors. Tell us how you came to that film making technique.
As a child I was always creative and kinda pushed the envelope way beyond what my teachers could understand. In grade school art class I sculpted a copy of Michaelangelo's Pieta, but all in dried snot from my own nose. They threw me out of class but a psychologist saw my work and sent me to Commercial Art School. So I was always inclined to be different and it got the attention of people who really understood creativity, like psychologists , film teachers and venture capitalists. One thing led to another and soon I was mixing blood and guts with snot and the rest is history.
Your previous film “ Filthy Rotten Bastids” dealt with Mafia wives getting even with their husbands by beating them with baseball bats, cutting off their genitals and using them in making tomato sauce . Now this latest film tells the story of the children of Japanese survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who capture and torture American service men whether or not they had anything to do with these attacks on Japanese cities in the second world war. Talk to us about the themes of retribution, vengeance, vindictiveness and grotesque horror that seem to repeat themselves in your work.
Gladly. I’m very pissed at reality and especially interested in the commercial potential in appealing to other pissed off people, which is most people. One way to do that is to keep alive old hatreds and make films that enable people to get their rocks off watching disturbingly horrible torture being inflicted on people who may not personally deserve it, but who stand in for those who do. That way you get two markets, both the vindictive and vengeance oriented, along with the gullible who react to blood and animal like human behavior in ways that make us feel akin to biblical and other original creators of mass slaughter.
Do you think there is any social cost in making such films, like maybe cheapening the notion of pain and suffering even while trying to get even for its infliction?
Yes, but then there is the art of film to consider. I did go to film school and wrote many papers on the illusions of light and still photos flashing before the eyes, the experience of being in a large dark room with others and watching flashing lights on a big screen, and that same experience shrunk to a little room, a little screen and maybe only one person in his underwear with a beer and pretzels and a dvd or blu-ray copy of one of my art works. So you see, I have far more knowledge of film than the average person who only watches film. I have studied them and now make then and also have become rich at my art, which shows that I have a profound sense of the impact on consciousness of telling stories and having them acted out on a big screen and making lots of money.
But again, beyond your obvious depth and knowledge of film and its commercial value, do you think the images, as in your latest film, of Japanese terrorists cutting out the tongues of American soldiers and carving images of the rising sun on their eyeballs is something that will heal the wounds of past wars? Could they make things worse and lead to more revenge fantasies that could become reality?
That’s possible, but we are all subconsciously warriors and inflicters of brutality - except for those of us who are artists, politicians and lawyers - and so it’s natural for this behavior to go on. We’ve always done it so I’m not suggesting anything new, I’m just dramatizing it in a way that entertains. People brutalize other people, it’s what makes life a success for the ones who commit the brutality and a failure for those on whom it is committed.
That almost sounds profound.
Hey, I went to college , I’m an artist and I’m successful. Being profound is what I take to the bank.
What are your future plans.
My next film will deal with American Indians capturing a family of Europeans and water boarding them in front of their children before skinning them alive and feeding them to their horses. It will be cathartic for Indians who never seem to act out vengeance the way some people do, and the same way some Japanese thanked me for giving them some sadistic pleasure, I think Indians will love my film. I’ve already raised a hundred million dollars from their gambling casinos for the preproduction costs and as soon as Hollywood gets into the act this could be a bigger blockbuster than my last film. Business is looking good. America is back!