John Roecker did this and that around the LA punk scene — publicity, promoting, booking, record producing, rock-video directing. He even owned a punk boutique with X’s Exene. When it came time to make an animated movie, he called in favors. Live Freaky! Die Freaky! (January 27-29 at the Brattle) is produced by Rancid lead singer Tim Armstrong, who also supplied a score. Those doing voices include ex-Lunachick Theo Kagan, X’s John Doe, and, in the lead, as a belligerent dude called Charlie Hanson, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong. Charlie Hanson? This Brillo-haired psycho is a slightly disguised Charles Manson; and Live Freaky! is a cartoonish retelling of the bloody ’60s saga of the Family, climaxing with the forever-creepy murder of Hollywood actress Sharon Tate, here renamed Sharon Hate.
Animators are reported to have deserted this project mid film, repulsed by the crude, sexual, deeply violent movie they were being paid to bring to life. It’s possible that some were grossed out by what writer/director Roecker asked of them, but my guess is that more employees abandoned ship because they perceived that a total dud was in the making. For one thing, Roecker can’t write: what woeful, wall-to-wall speechifying, including lengthy borrowing of Manson’s in-your-face rantings. And he’s inept at conceiving animation: the rudimentary characters are not far from old socks with lipstick-painted mouths. The scatological talk? You’d have to be hopelessly stoned to chuckle at Roecker’s array of seedy one-liners.
Imprisoned Hanson-girl murderess Hadie (Kagan) tells the story in flashback, beginning with her seduction by Hanson — heathen sex beneath a Jesus picture — and her acceptance into the Hanson family. There’s a retreat to Death Valley and a raiding of a grocery-store dumpster for still-edible victuals. As the Hanson gals dig for food, who should come by in a limo to ridicule their hapless hippiedom but snooty Sharon Hate.
If there’s anything truly objectionable about Live Freaky!, it’s turning Sharon Tate/Hate into someone who pretty much deserves to be murdered. She’s a spoiled-rotten 1968 pre-yuppie who on the evening of her killing is seen at her estate with her head and nose buried in cocaine, not caring in the slightest that she’s pregnant. Her decadent home companions are a slimy gay man who brags in sordid detail about having anal sex with the handicapped and a female friend who goes down on Sharon. Enter Hanson and company to behead the two confidants and rip open Sharon’s stomach. In terms of the movie’s amorality, none of this matters. Still, it’s unnerving to hear this litany from the Hanson gang over the hacked-up torsos: "Death does smell a little like head cheese."
I SHARE THE CONCERN of those who worry that the Boston Globe’s Living/Arts Section is emphasizing lifestyle trivia at the expense of serious arts coverage. (See Mark Jurkowitz’s “Globe-al Anxiety”.) But the Globe’s Arts Editor, Scott Heller, has been my friend since his Phoenix film-reviewer freelancing days, and I want to make two points: first, he’s the rare Arts Editor who regularly attends films, concerts, theater, and art openings; and second, he’s the person who hired as the Globe’s film critics Wesley Morris and Ty Burr, both of whom have proved superb choices.