The Living End

Hollywood's gutless fear of AIDS movies makes this savagely funny, sexy and grieving cry from the heart of writer, director, cinematographer and editor Gregg Araki even more rending. Jon (Craig Gilmore), an L.A. writer, hits the road with Luke (Mike Dytri), a brutal drifter. They are both fiercely attracted and HIV positive.

Araki gives his hypnotic film a raw intensity heightened by a surreal landscape and a jagged score from the likes of Braindead Sound Machine, KMFDM and Coil. Only Jon's calls to his worried friend Darcy (Darcy Marta) remind us of reality. The pair's traveling fuck-fest is marked by humor, rage, desperation and, finally, true romantic longing.

In the harrowing, piercingly acted final scene, Luke's violence gives way to understanding. But the anger persists. Araki's fitting dedication embraces "the hundreds of thousands who've died and the hundreds of thousands more who will die because of a big white house full of Republican Fuckheads."

From The Archives Issue 186: May 8, 1975