Because Kurt Cobain died so young (and some would say so mysteriously) his pre-Nirvana works can be over-examined as harbingers of his fate. Maybe death was always riding hard on his tail, these works can tell us, though any number of proto-grunge teens in the Pacific Northwest would have been writing about death and the devil. That’s the cool stuff, man.
A Super 8 film made by a 17-year-old Cobain, Dale Crover (future drummer of the Melvins) and Nirvana bass player Krist Novoselic popped up among bootleg collectors in 1998, and dates from 1984. Fans dubbed it “Kurt’s Bloody Suicide” to juice its value, back in the days when you actually had to buy bootlegs and then later be very disappointed. Now it’s up on YouTube as “Kurt Cobain Horror Movies.”
Crover has described it as “fucking around with a camera,” which indeed it is, but with some intent. It features Kurt in a Mr. T mask, lighting candles in a pentagram and snorting up a pile of cocaine (no doubt using a hidden vacuum cleaner). Then some odd shots of a Mr. T puppet, somebody’s mom at the window, a black labrador, very brief attempts at stop motion, somebody’s granddad, shots of downtown Aberdeen, Washington, and more goofing off (with a guitar!).
Then we get to the “money shot,” so to speak, with Cobain fake slitting his throat and stabbing himself. There’s some more knife violence, then a shot of a cat, a shot of a dog, some fake gun violence, plenty of shots of a pet turtle, and finally back to a horror movie: a bloody Virgin Mary, and some stabbings and some decent fake wounds. (However, the traveling shot of the running dog gets my vote for most skillful.)
Should we read anything into the gore and Satanism? (“This kid was a ticking time bomb,” says one YouTuber.)
I’d say no…and yes. There’s something fun about watching these bored teens making a film for their own entertainment. It’s silly, unfocused, but definitely an indication that these guys wanted out of their boring town and they’d have to create something to do that. Nirvana was right around the corner…
via Dangerous Minds
Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast and is the producer of KCRW’s Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.