R. Kern is responsible for some of the most shocking and repulsive things I have seen from a filmmaker, even outside of the mainstream, yet I’m still an admirer of his art.
In The Hardcore Collection, Kern’s first foray into the world of short films, he explores sexual deviancy (pleasure derived from the sewing up of orifices, necrophilia, and sexual violence), suicide, and an extreme depiction of the hypocrisy of Christianity.
Yet in his latest offering to the world, Extra Action (And Extra Hardcore), Kern opts for a subtle approach to deviancy.
He’s done away with the raw grittiness of his short films by shooting in color, and merely flirting with bizarre sexual proclivities. Also, Kern has recruited clean-cut, universally attractive women this time around as opposed to the dangerous and grimy girls in The Hardcore Collection such as Lydia Lunch and Lung Leg (I do have a crush on Lung Leg, even though she scares me).
Extra Action (And Extra Hardcore) is art with a message, but you may have to stretch your powers of interpretation and analysis to find the message.
The film consists of various nude women of many shapes and looks partaking in various activities (thin, obese, redheads, brunettes, blondes, pierced, shaved, unshaved, girls in bondage, girls running around naked in the woods, lesbian sex, and girls taking baths) in an effort to satisfy numerous fetishes. On the surface, the film comes across as soft-core porn, but on closer analysis it sends the message that men aren’t necessarily needed as givers of sexual pleasure.
The music, which David Lynch may have appreciated during the early part of his career, primarily consists of heavy, sinister drumming, screeching industrial sounds, dialogue from old films, and plenty of screaming. This element creates a disturbing atmosphere in what otherwise would be, as labeled above, mere soft-core porn.
Thurston Moore and Sonic Youth also return to provide music for the film, but Thurston and the band only contributed two songs that Kern frequently repeats. Naturally, this gets annoying pretty quick.
R. Kern returns to form on the DVD’s bonus features with six short films that didn’t make it in The Hardcore Collection.
R. Kern’s films are an acquired taste, so if this glimpse into his world even slightly repulses you, I don’t recommend his work. However, if you like your art extreme and disconcerting, then R. Kern is definitely the artist for you.Powered by Sidelines