Flying Lotus Revives the Midnight Movie with "Kuso"

by Sid Feddema

Plenty has been written about Kuso, the first film by genre-bending experimental trip-hop artist and formative Brainfeeder Label member Flying Lotus. Most of that writing gleefully outlines the gross-out gags and gory set-pieces. They're not wrong to do so: Kuso contains some of the most bizarro, grotesque, and shocking imagery to ever appear in anything resembling a mainstream film. This may be a deal-breaker for some. If you can't find the humor in the sheer absurdity of the image of a man having graphic sex with a talking boil to induct it into the family – shown to gooey completion – then Kuso is just not going to work for you.

However, if you were one of the many who took a seat for the premiere on Saturday at Cinefamily on Fairfax, scenes like that weren't likely a problem. This was FlyLo's ideal audience – LA locals raised on cult movies and gory video games, nerdy stoners tuning in nightly to Adult Swim or surfing 4chan at 4am, hip-hop heads trading tapes of bad-trip inducing experimental music – and they weren't walking out in droves like the starched collars over at Sundance.

This was the culture it seems FlyLo was hoping to cultivate: the return of the midnight movie. It's a scene where decorum and taste go out the window and where those on the fringes of creative production and creative consumption find a sense of community, after the workaday world and the well-adjusted are snugly asleep in their beds. For this crowd, Kuso more than delivered. The fractured post-apocalyptic narrative, deeply perverse practical effects, and mind-bending animation, all set to a soundtrack featuring some of the greatest innovators in electronic and hip-hop (including Aphex Twin!) made for a perfect escape from a world gone crazy into a world gone crazier.

If you want to join them, Cinefamily will be holding midnight showings of Kuso all week after July 21st, and will be exclusively available on horror-film streaming service Shudder for those who wish to view at home.


Written by Sid Feddema