Jun 27, 2014
How John Wayne Gacy and GG Allin Launched HANGOVER Director Todd Phillips’ Career
If you’re unfamiliar with late rock n’roll terrorist GG Allin, born Jesus Christ Allin, suffice to say that almost nothing that dude did is safe to Google at work. Allin, who died of a heroin overdose in 1993, makes Iggy Pop look like Katy Perry. During his notorious stage shows, Allin would regularly strip naked and defecate on stage, get in violent tussles with his audience, drink his female’s fans’ piss, and roll in broken glass.
Most of the film footage of Allin’s too-graphic-for-Youtube antics come from Hangover director Todd Phillips documentary Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies, a movie that has attained cult status among punk fans. (Allegedly the Beastie Boys kept it on their tour bus, and Phish asked Phillips to do a movie on them after seeing it, a request he obliged.)
The movie was funded, Phillips told the audience of Williamsburg’s Nitehawk Cinema Thursday night after screening of Hated, in part thanks to serial killer John Wayne Gacy. Allin and Gacy were friends, Phillips explained, and he wrote to the Killer Clown in jail to ask him to paint the poster for the movie.
“He said ‘I’ll do it for $50 for art supplies and a compromising photo of yourself,’” Phillips said. “So I sent him 50 bucks and a photo my roommate took of me on the roof. It wasn’t naked, but it was very… hawkish.”
Phillips sold copies of the poster for $15 each in the back of Maximum Rock n’ Roll, and raised the $12,000 he needed to make the documentary. “John Wayne Gacy was basically the executive producer of this movie,” Phillips said.
The film began as a class project for Phillips, then a NYU junior and now known for directing of a string of frat comedy blockbusters, including Old School and Starsky & Hutch. The subject matter of Hated is different than Phillips’ other movies, but elements of his filmmaking ethos are in full effect, particularly the gross-out humor and his admiration for the bro bond. It documents one of the last years of Allin’s life, as he attempted to launch a countrywide tour, got banned from NYU from shoving a banana up his ass on stage, appeared on Geraldo, and engaged in various filthcore activities.
“I don’t think GG ever had, like, ‘the quiet years,’” Phillips said. “Anyway, we didn’t want to make a Behind the Music episode.”
Phillips made the movie thanks to GG’s brother Merle Allin, a regular at the St. Mark’s Kim’s Video & Music where Phillips worked. Merle, a frequent bootlegger of videos, acted as his brother’s steadying force in the Murder Junkies. In the movie, Merle also has the world’s most bizarre facial hair arrangement, sporting a shaved head and eyebrows accented by an overgrown Hitler mustache and voluminous muttonchops.
Phillips dropped out of college to finish making the film, and was promoting its theatrical release when Allin died. “The morning after Allin died, we were supposed to have an interview with the Village Voice,” Phillips said. They had been out partying after a particularly destructive show at former punk club The Gas Station when Allin retired to a friend’s apartment to shoot up.
“The funeral was insane,” Phillips said. “It was an open casket for the family, but after his family left, his friends partied with his body until 1 am. People were pouring Jim Beam in his mouth. I’m actually glad I didn’t get that on film.”
But despite the passionate embrace of his film by the punk community—the sold-out event was packed with Allin aficionados—Phillips has some regrets.
“We could shoot a better movie now, literally, on an iPhone,” Phillips said. “It’s so fucking low rent. GG was worthy of something better than Hated.”
Follow Margaret Eby on Twitter @margareteby
The Hated event is part of NiteHawk Cinema’s Music Driven. Their next event, a screening of Bad Brains Live with a Q&A with the band’s bassist Darryl Jenifer, is on July 8.