'The Living End' was first released in 1992 - and it is great to see it brought to DVD.
Perhaps the most accessible of Araki's older films, 'The Living End' preceded the notorious 'Doomsday Trilogy'. While sharing with those films an acerbic social commentary, its approach appears more 'grounded', and adopts a straightforward, linear plot. A road-movie heralding the New Queer Cinema movement of the early 1990s, 'The Living End' is very much the product of its time - portraying the harsh reality of HIV and the fall out from the materialist hegemony and ruthless excess of the 1980s - but is no less compelling with the passage of time.
Luke is a self-destructive drifter, combining overt masculinity with unapologetic homosexuality; his life ruled by the whims of the moment and a muscular, sensual physicality. Jon, his polar opposite, is a 20-something writer; gay and introspective; still hoping to find a role in the social dogma of nuclear monogamy. Two strangers, with vastly different perspectives. Both test HIV positive, and brought together by chance, set off on a road trip across the west coast of America - a spiralling journey of passion and violence that pits their anger against the inertia and intolerance of society: "We've got nothing to lose any more; we're free".
Some viewers seem unable to get beyond the ultra-low-budget nature of this Indie film, and are perhaps content with the modern drudgery of special effects and the banal mythologising of 'happiness'. However, for others, the (increasingly rare) anarchist-rage-against-the-machine spirit lives on in 'The Living End'. Stridently powerful and highly moving, it remains a personal favourite that bears numerous viewings.