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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

the oh-no! DVD of the week: ‘Squeal’

The Amazon synopsis is brief and to the point:

When a dysfunctional rock group’s van breaks down in the middle of nowhere, the band members are kidnapped by a blood-thirsty family of half pig/half human mutants.

I love the piquancy of that: It’s not just any ol’ ordinary rock group that breaks down in the middle of nowhere, it’s a dysfunctional rock group. You can almost taste the drama and the histrionics: the bickering between the bass player and the drummer that has gone on for so many years that no one can quite remember what the original argument was about. The sullen lead singer, simmering with years of resentment over a slight at a concert by the manager so long ago that all that’s left of the lead singer is simmering resentment. Being kidnapped by a bloodthirsty family of mutants is practically a relief at this point.

But the synopsis at Diabolik hints at a somewhat different story:

An indie rock band goes on its first tour and becomes stranded on a country road when their car breaks down after meeting some strange country hicks. They seek help, only to stumble on a genetic science experiment gone terribly wrong. They are captured by mutant half-pig/half-humans and held captive in a barn. The remaining band members attempt breaks-out, but to their demise the mutants have more surprises in store for them. The sun rises on the carnage and sheds light on the horrors of animal testing.

A rock band on its first tour is already “dysfunctional”? This speaks to more immediate interpersonal difficulties, and emotions running much hotter. Who’s to say, then, that a bunch of young people who can’t stand one another packed into a Scooby van isn’t an appropriate metaphor for the horrific enclosed tiny cages of testing labs? Who’s to say that the lead guitar chick who wants to totally scratch the eyes out of that backup singing bitch isn’t a fitting comparison to the stresses to which fluffy bunnies are subjected in the search for tearproof mascara?

These are the tragedies of our time: dysfunctional rock bands and genetic experimentation. Won’t someone think of something or other?

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