Destroy All Monsters: Grow Live Monsters [DVD] [2007]

Fusing the sensibility of pre-Warhol New York City underground cinema with the trash aesthetic that would later emerge in punk rock, Destroy All Monsters were part art collective, part filmmaking group and part noisemaking experimental rock bands, and all three sides are given a chance to show themselves in this DVD release from MVD Visual. The material on Destroy All Monsters: Grow Live Monsters has been transferred to disc in the full frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and evaluating the quality is a difficult task. Much of DAM's work was shot on whatever was cheap and available at the time, including a variety of film formats (16mm, Super-8, standard 8 mm) and early home video. As a result, much of the material in the segments Grow Live Monsters and Monsters Redux routinely appears worn and amateurish, but it was probably never meant to look any better than it does, and up to a point the flaws are an integral part of the image, so the dirty, scratchy, strobing pictures on screen are an accurate representation of the intended style of this material. (And the more recent video-shot DAM Invades Seattle looks considerably better.) The audio is mastered in Dolby Digital 5.1, and given the low-tech origins of the recordings, the results are something short of an audiophile experience, but they also match the tenor of the visuals just fine. What little dialogue or vocals are her are in English, with no multiple language options or subtitles included. The only "bonus" here is a slide show presenting photos of DAM in action and examples of the group's visual art, though a booklet is included featuring an interview with Cary Loren talking about the group's early days. If you're interested in Destroy All Monsters' creative mischief, this disc is a golden opportunity to see their cinematic anarchy in full flower, though for the unconverted this will probably get a bit old very fast.
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Synopsis

Destroy All Monsters: Grow Live Monsters
Destroy All Monsters was a Detroit-based art collective and experimental music group led by Mike Kelley, Jim Shaw, Cary Loren and Niagara. Influenced by the underground films of Jack Smith and George Kuchar, the movies created by Destroy All Monsters blended kitsch images, clips from old horror and sci-fi pictures, deliberate over-acting and bursts of off-beat animation into a bracing collage of pop culture detritus, while the artists' neo-psychedelic noise rock droned away in the background. Destroy All Monsters: Grow Live Monsters is a DVD release which collects a sampling of the team's audio-visual work from 1971 to 2000. The disc includes the hour-long Grow Live Monsters, a similar but shorter image collage Monsters Redux, a collection of found images from Detroit television Shake A Lizard Tail or Rust Belt Rump, and a document of the group's exhibition and performance at a gallery in Seattle, Washington. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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