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Shredder Orpheus

By Josiah Teal | May 8, 2024

Initially released in 1990, Robert McGinley’s punk rock retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice has found a second life through Vinegar Syndrome. Resurrecting forgotten cult classics has been Vinegar Syndrome’s calling card since its founding in 2012, and Shredder Orpheus is no exception. Written, directed, and starring Robert McGinley, Shredder Orpheus takes on the Greek myth with a street punk attitude, indie charm, and midnight movie panache. The film wears indie influences on its sleeve and delivers cult movie style as Orpheus rides a skateboard from hell to save his beloved Eurydice. 

Orpheus (Robert McGinley) is the singer and leader of the hottest band in the city, “The Shredders.” Narrated by Axel (Steven Jesse Bernstein), a veteran who loves to skate and shred, the legend of Orpheus begins as Eurydice (Megan Murphy) catches the attention of Hades (Gian-Carlo Scaniuzzi) at the latest rock n’ roll show. Needing Eurydice for his latest mind-controlling television program, Hades devises a plot to kill and bring her to the underworld. On the wedding night of Orpheus and Eurydice, Orpheus receives a magic lyre just before Hades’ minions kill the newlywed Eurydice. Armed with his lyre, Orpheus must confront Hades if there is any hope of saving his wife from the bowels of the underworld.

“Orpheus rides a skateboard from hell to save his beloved Eurydice.

Hell takes shape in Hade’s elaborate television station, “Euthanasia Network.” Throughout his journey, Orpheus must test his wits and lyre against Hades if there is any hope of saving Eurydice. Gian-Carlo Scaniuzzi chews every minute of screen time as Hades. Scaniuzzi is not the sole over-the-top performance. No one is dialing in a minute of screentime, and everyone is on board with McGinley’s vision of skate punk meets mythology. McGinley is in full slick rock n’ roll mode from the minute Shredder Orpheus begins, with the supporting cast adding flair to the strange, surrealist narrative. As Orpheus faces the terrors of the underworld, each cast member shines, elevating the picture from indie darling to a video store gem. 

Vinegar Syndrome has a sixth sense for the strange. Shredder Orpheus is trippy, over-the-top, and makes bold choices on a budget. The Greek myth meets rock n’ roll epic makes McGinley’s venture into mythology a delightful punk adventure comparable to Wild Zero in spirit (though far fewer zombies). Cult film audiences will devour Shredder Orpheus, appreciating the love, care, and budget-conscious mentality McGinley’s production wears on its sleeve. There is a lot of love in Shredder Orpheus, but beyond being a lost cult classic, the film shines as a unique retelling of the ancient myth. McGinley takes Virgil’s classic tale and weaves a narrative of televised mind control, distorted guitars, and radical skateboarding while maintaining the roots of the original story.  

Shredder Orpheus is unlikely to be the next Buckaroo Banzai or merit the purple VHS release or fanfare of New York Ninja. Yet Orpheus still delivers the Vinegar Syndrome goods, unearthing another midnight movie that would otherwise be lost. Performances serve the material, the soundtrack is as surreal as the story structure, and the passion for filmmaking bleeds into every scene. The film is brimming with high energy and features more than a fair share of cheesy one-liners. Though it may not be the headliner, Shredder Orpheus is worthy of a slot in any cult movie marathon. 

Shredder Orpheus (1990)

Directed and Written: Robert McGinley

Starring: Robert McGinley, Megan Murphy, Steven Jesse Bernstein, Linda Severt, Marshall Reid, Gian-Carlo Scaniuzzi, Vera McCaughan , etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

Shredder Orpheus  Image

"…Greek myth meets rock n' roll epic..."

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