Twisted Issues (Charles Pinion, 1988)
[note: review originally published 1Dc2008]
By just about any metric you care to name, Charles Pinion’s first feature, Twisted Issues, is an unwatchable piece of crap. The budget for the movie was something along the lines of seventy-nine cents. It’s an amateur production, and it looks it (and this was long before the days when any kid could pick up a digital camcorder and make something that could get a straight-to-DVD release). The acting is terrible, the direction worse. And yet everyone I know who has seen this film, and that is a very small number, has nothing but endless praise about it. Why? Pinion himself said that, twenty years after he made it, Twisted Issues makes him nostalgic for skate-punk culture in Florida. I was never a Floridian, but I can understand where he’s coming from. (I also suspect that the Campbell brothers have seen this movie a number of times; Midnight Skater pays just a little too much homage for it to be coincidental, and I am an unabashed fan of Midnight Skater.) There are times when a bad movie is so incredibly awful that it transcends badness and becomes something great. It’s obvious that Twisted Issues is one of those movies, and that I’m not the only one who thinks so. While the movie has very, very few votes at IMDB, they are almost uniformly above average.
The plot of the movie is pretty stock revenge fantasy; a skater (Steve Antczak, who also wrote the script) is killed by a rival gang of skate punks, and rises from the dead to seek his revenge. Sometimes, simple really is the way to go. It’s been done many times without the supernatural element, with mixed results (and usually with wildly varying reactions; the obvious example is The Last House on the Left, which people seem to either love or hate). Here, despite the film’s many, many shortcomings as mentioned in the first paragraph, it absolutely works. I’m not entirely sure why; the script is competent, but nothing special. Everyone involved is an amateur. The soundtrack is phenomenal, but a good soundtrack is not enough to carry an entire movie. (Though I have no doubt that’s a good part of Pinion’s own nostalgia, as it is mine.) There’s just an atmosphere to it that works, front to back. I suspect it works better for those of us who came of age in the early to mid-eighties and were active in the punk subculture, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t show to to the younger generation to see if the magic works on them as well.
Since seeing it, I have discovered that Twisted Issues is an exceptionally rare film and very hard to come by. I haven’t looked, but I suspect it’s probably streamable somewhere on the web, thanks to its rarity and its creator’s well-deserved love for it. It’s well worth searching out, as long as you don’t mind some gore with your comedy. (It is, however, nowhere near as gory as Midnight Skater, so if you’ve seen that one, you’ll be fine here.) Give it a look, if you can. ****
[ed. note: in the four years since I originally published this review, Pinion has brought the film out on limited edition with a lavish updated VHS [sorry about the mix-up, sir!], and the soundtrack is now available to stream at his site (I assume, because it requires QuickTime, which I don’t have). If you are–or ever were–a punk fan, I strongly suggest laying hands on this before they disappear.]