The Doom Generation Spills Onto DVD

Jonathan Schaech, Rose McGowan, James Duval. Directed by Gregg Araki. Aspect ratio: 1.33:1. Dolby Surround 2.0. 83 minutes. 1995. TRI6836. Not rated. $24.95.

Once, during an interview, the elliptical French New Wave filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard replied to a query as to why there was so much blood in his film Pierrot: "That is not blood, but red." Gregg Araki, the Gen X director of such ambisexual road-movie fare as The Living End, Totally F***ed Up, and Nowhere, and who considers Godard a cinematic hero, smirked when asked about the clots of red in his violent, sexually charged, gender-smashing 1995 film, The Doom Generation: "That is not red, but blood."

Indeed, the film opens with a tight close-up of Amy (Rose McGowan, from Scream), her ultrawhite skin juxtaposed against black Louise Brooks-style bangs and the reddest slash of full, lipsticked lips one could ever imagine. The vision instantly brings to mind that old kid's joke, "What's black and white and red all over?" We soon find out, because there's precious little of McGowan's voluptuous figure that's left uncovered in Araki's road-kill movie, which is similar to one of David Lynch's visual nightmares in that it's about everything and absolutely nothing at all.

The interminably restless and bitchy Amy and her sweetheart of a boyfriend, Jordan (Araki regular James Duval), are two disenfranchised kids in love. Little do they know, as they sit parked in their wreck of a car one night, that they've just taken a wrong turn onto the highway to hell. Suddenly, Xavier, or X (Jonathan Schaech), appears, crashing onto the hood and encouraging them to speed away as he's being beaten to a pulp by a gang of thugs. X is seductively sensual and seems to intuitively know the couple's every sexual and emotional desire. Is he a guardian angel, or just a guy with terrible timing?

Araki says The Doom Generation isn't a violent or cautionary tale, but a love story. "I don't see the sensationalistic things other people see," he noted in an interview. "I don't see it as a weird art film either, but as a teenage date movie."

Regardless of how he sees it, his movie is bound to provoke a strong response in viewers, and it's doubtful many parents will let their kids catch a gander at the explicit sex that ensues (or its mind-numbing gore, no matter how tongue-in-cheek). Still, love it or hate it, Araki adamantly asserts that the film is an extension of his own romantic soul. "These are characters whose love is too pure for this world. The relationship between these three people is too pure for everyone they encounter---that's what I told my actors. It's a love that has to be destroyed by a hostile world."

Araki continually makes movies that are better remembered for their soundtracks and production design than their stories, no matter how startling or visually compelling. The Doom Generation is no exception. The sound has been cleaned up and bolstered to Dolby Surround 2.0. This gives the soundtrack, featuring bands like Ministry and Nine Inch Nails, a less garbled dirtiness than it had on VHS or in some theaters.

The film suffers because the master was shot on a very low budget. But despite some graininess, after you've viewed The Doom Generation, the color red might never look the same again.