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By Merle Bertrand | September 6, 2000

Not to sound like a snob, but there’s a certain basic level of professionalism which filmmakers might want to consider striving for when they send in a tape for review. Copying your film or video onto a used tape is tacky…but understandable. Tape IS cheap, but recycling tapes can save a starving filmmaker a few not-insignificant hundred dollars.
Yet, Sebastian Capone and Richard Altman certainly didn’t earn any bonus points by sending in their tape in the condition we received it: sleeveless, the words “Filth Tape #1” scrawled in pen on a half peeled off top label, and the ever-popular “666” chicken-scratched on the spine label. This is more than just a cosmetic beef. I literally don’t know what to call this damned thing.
Whatever the title, just over the first hour of the video is divided into sections subtitled “Violence,” “War,” “Drugs,” etc. Each section consists of a non-stop barrage of newsreel and movie found footage, some scenes set to thrasher music, others retaining their original sound, which corresponds to the appropriate sub-heading. Or at least, that’s the idea. In reality, Capone and Altman seem to have a particularly disturbing fondness for the “violence” footage, as stomach-churning scenes of gratuitous carnage permeate the other categories at will.
Admittedly, this is kind of hypnotic in a squeamish sort of way. At least it makes a sort of sick sense during the “Violence” and “War” sections. Yet, the more the exploding heads, dismemberments and eviscerations relentlessly pound the viewer over the head, the more the segments all gradually and overwhelmingly run together. Even so, every now and then, a particular little sequence will work. When it does, the effect is similar to watching a terrible baseball team turn a nice double play: they might be going nowhere in the Pennant Race, but they looked good for a couple of seconds, there.
(Incidentally, the last useless ten minutes or so mostly consists of guys — presumably the filmmakers — throwing things around and breaking them. Now THAT’S entertainment…)
It’s a decent bet these guys are big Craig Baldwin fans and there’s no faulting the effort they put into this thing. The sheer amount of research and time required to accumulate the mass of obscure clips they used is impressive in and of itself…and probably indicates a severe dearth of a social life. Unfortunately, none of that makes “Sociology 666” or “Filth Tape #1” or whatever this thing is called any more pleasant or interesting to watch.

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