Death Trip: The Films of Richard Kern
In 1985, the New York City ‘zine “The Underground Film Bulletin” published a manifesto credited to one “Orion Jeriko” that defined a new cinematic movement that would henceforth be know as “The Cinema of Transgression”. The architects of this movement included a close nit group born of the lower-east side NoWave scene that included Nick Zedd (who used the alias of Jeriko to pen the article), poet/punk musician Lydia Lunch, artist David Wojnarowicz, and filmmakers Beth B, Casandra Stark, Tessa Hughes-Freeland, Tommy Turner and Richard Kern. Along for the ride were musical collaborators like Henry Rollins, Sonic Youth and Foetus (J.G. Thrilwill). Declaring that “nothing is sacred” they commanded that the violation of all that had come before was nothing less than the end game of their movement.
The Museum of Modern Art has called Richard Kern the “undisputed master of transgressive cinema: and a “hardcore social satirist”. Kern is creator of some of most recognizable and often controversial films of the Cinema of Transgression. Films that are at the extreme ends of a genre, obsessed with perversion, sadism, and pitch black humor. This collection of 10 films, provided by Kern and preserved with the assistance of Anthology Film Archives and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts includes Kern’s first film Goodbye 42nd Street, the Anthology Series Manhattan Love Suicides (with Nick Zedd) and his most controversial classic Fingered with co-creator Lydia Lunch.
Content Warning: These films contain strong sexual content, including violence, nudity, language, and adult themes. No one under 18 will be admitted.
Goodbye 42nd Street
1983, USA, 5 minutes
Shots of walking down 42nd Street showing storefronts including everything from Texas Fried Chicken to 25 cent adult film arcades.
You Killed Me First
1985, USA, 12 minutes, Featuring Karen Finley, David Wojnarowicz, Lung Leg with music by J.G. Thrilwell
A young woman rebels against her family’s petit bourgeois respectability, conservatism and religiosity.
Death Valley ‘69
1986, USA, 7 minutes, Featuring Sonic Youth, Lydia Lunch, Tommy Turner, Lung Leg with music by Sonic Youth and Lydia Lunch.
Kern’s music video for Sonic Youth’s single “Death Valley ’69”
Manhattan Love Suicides (Parts 1 – 4)
1985, USA, 36 Minutes
Stray Dogs (Part 1)
1985, USA, 10 minutes, Featuring David Wojnarowicz, Bill Rice with music by J.G. Thrilwell
A fan follows an artist home and tries to get his attention by literally coming apart.
Woman at the Wheel (Part 2)
1985, USA, 8 minutes, Featuring Adrienne Altenhaus, Nick Zedd, Gary Ray with music by J.G. Thrilwell and Wiseblood
A woman takes each of her boyfriends – one poor and one rich- for a drive in her new car.
Thrust in Me (Part 3)
1985, USA, 8 minutes, Directed and Written by R. Kern and Nick Zedd, Featuring Nick Zedd with music by Dream Syndicate
A woman (Zedd) contemplates suicide in her NY apartment. Her boyfriend (Zedd) returns home to find her corpse in the bath and takes his sexual pleasure from it.
I Hate You Now (Part4)
1985, USA, 10 minutes, Featuring Tommy Turner and Amy Turner, Featuring music by SPK and Wiseblood
“About a deformed guy and his girlfriend.”
The Sewing Circle
1992, USA, 7 minutes, Featuring Kembra Pfahler
Kern films the extreme piercing operation made on performance artist and singer of The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, Kembra Pfahler.
1993, USA, 5 minutes, Featuring Susan McNamara with music by Joe Budenhauser
Kern ironically makes fun of the photography profession.
1986, USA, 22 minutes, Written by R. Kern and Lydia Lunch, featuring Lunch, Lung Leg, Marty Nations with music by Lydia Lunch and Clint Ruin (JG Thirlwell).
The misadventures of a sex phone operator after she meets a sexually depraved psychopath.
1983 – 1993, USA, Total Running Time: 94 Minutes, Unrated
“An attack on the entrenched avant-garde and a close-up examination of highly subversive behavior. Kern’s films remain shocking, sexy, disturbed, debauched, violent, and really quite wonderful.”- EV Grieve, ANTHOLOGY FILM ARCHIVES
“With a significant number of the most provocative films and videos from the 1980s underground scene to his credit, artist and photographer Richard Kern is the undisputed master of transgressive cinema.”– MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
“Fingered is the ultimate date movie for psychos”– John Waters, DIRECTOR