Croatian trash film

Trash film is shameless exaggeration, naiveté that is simultaneously
subversive and uncompromisingly bizarre; a field trip into madness with no
return to normalcy.

Thanks to the film U kandžama velegrada, the expression trash film
finally entered our film dictionary. Trash film used to be a synonym for poor
quality, cheap films that simplify genres, disrespect the standards of good
taste, and enjoy piling up scenes full of sex and violence. For several decades
now, trash film has been infiltrating the professional productions
of international cinematography. It is close to camp esthetics (“good because it
is extremely bad”), which Susan Sontag elaborated in her famous essay collection
“Protiv interpretacije”. Trash flourished in the opus of the touchingly
dilettantish Ed Wood, the virtuoso porno guerrilla Russ Meyer, in the wacky
alternative John Waters, as well as in expensive Hollywood films such as
and Izlazak za Raj. Trash film is shameless
exaggeration, naiveté that is simultaneously subversive and uncompromisingly
bizarre; it is a field trip into madness with no return to normalcy.

Bore Lee, the kung fu master from Sinj, and his directing threesome gained the
sympathy of the public by systematically following the tradition of trash
film. Bore stutters his lines but no one is bothered by it, action scenes
are a joke, while fantasy and kitsch find their place where they seemingly do
not belong – in works of pseudo-documentary. Even though, because of its
self-irony, it is not the perfect representative of trash film, U kandžama
, achieved great popularity and ratings among the audience, (partly
thanks to the very good DVD issue). However, it is hardly the first Croatian
trash film

Croatian cinematography, throughout its history, has often been accused of being
stiff. However, it has the alibi of always flirting with trash, even in
the pioneer times. What else are the amateur small films by Oktavijan Miletić,
persiflage of German and American crime movies, if not early trash films?
In the burlesque Tajna dvorca I.B. by Milan Katic from 1952, based on the
screenplay by Fadil Hadžić, ballerina Silva Hercigonja embodies the Resolution
of the Inform bureau and encourages workers and peasants to rise against Tito’s
regime. In the end of the 1990s, this film was shown in the all night marathon
of trash films in the Belgrade Cinematheque, along with Djevojka u
crvenim čizmama
, Flaša koja ubija and Nevinost bez zaštite (by
Dragoljub Aleksić, not Dušan Makavejev). While Milan Katić’s film paid the price
by lying in a bunker, another film, Šeki snima, pazi se, from 1962, tried
to depict the spirit of the time. Cheap comedies were in fashion in that time
and Marijan Vajda managed to gather, in his third feature film, many elements
that appeal to audiences: soccer players, singers, and other entertainers. The
outcome of his ready-made procedure and complete lack of concern for story
development was that this film was voted the worst domestic film of all time.
Undoubtedly, this is precisely the reason why fans of trash should admire
this film!

Sometimes, even acclaimed directors flirted with trash. In his film
Čovjek koga treba ubiti
(1979), Veljko Bulajić models hell after French
erotic trash films (Jean Rollin and others), spiced up with many
sadomasochistic motifs. Dušan Vukotić ended his fairy –like film Goste iz
(1981) with wacky bloodshed, borrowed from Italian horror and
sci-fi films. The theatre director Ljubiša Ristić made his film debut with
Luda kuća
, whose action takes place in Zagreb in the time of the Independent
State of Croatia. Ristić changed the benign screenplay by Nermina Ferizbegović
into a crazy vaudeville with likeable Nazis and debauched illegals. Vladimir
Tadej made his erotic exploitation film Anticasanova (1985) with foreign
leading actors. Krešo Golik was not very far away from trash in his film
Vili orhideji, especially in the scenes where bandits threaten the main
characters, Rene Medvešek and Gala Videnović.

Zvonimir Maycug, the most important Croatian trash author, made his debut in
1982. As if inspired by the later made Hollywood comedy Bowfinger, he
made his debut, Ja sam tvoj Bog, without even notifying the leading
actress, Ružica Sokić, that he would insert erotic scenes with nonprofessional
actors between her scenes. The hard-core porn Oaza from 1988 (the
original copy was seized and burned), and its changed version from 1989, caused
a scandal in the former Yugoslavia and encouraged the increase of pirate video
tapes sales. Afterwards, Maycug made only one more feature film, Kalvarija
(1996), which still awaits it premiere.

Maycug was not the only one who was interested in trash during the 1990s. In
1996, the late Darko Vernić Bundi managed to finish his adventure film
Izgubljeno blago
, which he made during the late 1980s and early 1990s. For a
trash film with a straight A, this film lacks several sex scenes. Furthermore,
trash is found where one least expects it: in the high budget war drama
Vrijeme za
and in its small budget counterpart U okruženju, (scenes
with the Chetniks). Jakov Sedlar asserted himself as a newly important name in
trash esthetics. In this respect, his films Četverored and Agonija
still await a thorough analysis. In addition, Lukas Nola’s film Rusko meso
could have been a first-rate trash product had the director, ironically
enough, shown more consistency. And what about 21st century trash? For now,
only parts of Posljednja volja with Goran Višnjić and U kandžama
qualify. However, we must be patient, because the unstable
Croatian film scene could easily provide us with a new trash classic.

Some authors may be offended that their works have been included in this
program. For them trash is an insult, an appellation that runs counter to
a prestigious artistic image. They should bear in mind that trash refers
to the artistic ethic of freedom from and the rise above convention, which are
admirable virtues! (Nenad Polimac)