Lock ‘n’ Load High School
Anxious to see a movie that depicts the 1999 Littleton high school mass murder as a wacky campus comedy, a sick joke, and a tragic drama all at once? Me neither – at least I thought so until I checked out this near-amateur film, made by a couple of guys not much older than the killers themselves. As they say in their press material, somebody was bound to make a film on the subject sooner or later, and better they make it themselves than see it as a lame network TV movie.
“Joey Smack” and “William Hellfire” wrote, directed and starred as the outcast pair Derrick and Derwin. The two boys are portrayed as punk Ferris Beullers, pulling the wool over the eyes of their freakish parents, teachers, and cliquester schoolmates. All the other characters are extreme cartoons, from the Spam-loving jock to the Bible-quoting religious girl. A lecherous teacher looks like Quentin Tarantino. The boys aren’t just picked on, they’re given a big action-movie beating with squirting blood. One of the more entertaining scenes shows the teenagers going to score the guns from a seedy arms dealer which becomes a cross between a game show and a topless beauty pageant.
Shot on the ultracheap, Duck! displays the low production values you’d expect from a camcorder flick – crude sound, and the attendant level of acting. Most of the actors take on colorful fake names, like Misty Mundane and Michael Ovum. All the characters wear the same wardrobe every day, and a friend’s band performs at a party. However, the final massacre features gore effects surprisingly up to – um, snuff.
I won’t pretend to have followed the story closely enough to tell whether Smack and Hellfire have all the facts straight. Some details, like the final pop quiz for the Bible student, ring a bell. What I remember most is a feeling of revulsion at one of those lose-lose situations that comes up all too often and doesn’t look good from any angle. Why is it that only inner city schools are thought to require guards and metal detectors? I grew up in a rural area, and I saw a lot more guns out in the sticks than I ever have in the big city.
Though the satire is broad and corny, at it’s best, Duck! solidly shows the situation from the boys’ point of view. Derrick and Derwin see themselves romantically, as agents of change striking back at the absurd and oppressive world around them. Analyzed in this way, the shootings become at heart a grotesquely exaggerated version of the usual teenage vandalism. Who hasn’t fantasized, if only for a moment, about taking a flame-thrower to their high school assembly? It’s all part of being a teen. Some feel that way more than others – guess we’re lucky they don’t have access to a lot of firearms, eh?