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Scarecrow on Seattle: SHREDDER ORPHEUS

For the past few years, Scarecrow Video has been contributing reviews of movies made in the Pacific Northwest to the Seattle Office of Film + Music's e-newsletter. We're now proud to be able to share these reviews on our site as well.

 

 

 

 

 


Shredder Orpheus (1990)

Somewhere in the history of science fiction cinema, roller skates and skateboards became equated with futuristic dot matrix dystopias. Among the dubious ranks of movies like Hackers and Prayer of the Roller Boys, we find a local product called Shredder Orpheus. It's a post-apocalyptic rock and roll yarn about a group of skateboarding miscreants who dare to challenge a nefarious satellite television station.

In the near future, things are looking bleak. The government is broke, the environment is ruined, and most locals live in The Grey Zone, a homeless camp constructed from shipping containers. Director/star Robert McGinley portrays the coolest guy in the Zone, Orpheus-an ace skateboarder and all-around rockin' dude. He's the lead singer for Orpheus and The Shredders and has a beautiful girlfriend named Eurydice (Megan Money Buys Happiness Murphy), who dances with the band. During a gig at a local venue called Club Trash Bin, she gets spotted by the head of EBN (Euthanasia Broadcasting Network). He concludes that Eurydice is the "key to the heartbeat of the youth market" and constructs a plan to trick her in to joining his network. If you are familiar with the Orpheus legend, you know what happens next. If you aren't, you can probably guess that Orpheus, equipped with his skateboard and a magic lyre (designed by Jimi Hendrix), embarks on a journey to save his beloved.

There aren't a lot of recognizable Seattle locations in the film; most scenes unfold either by the storage container yards on the waterfront or on minimal sets. I think the interior of Club Trash Bin may be the Pioneer Square Theater (RIP) and there is a dream scene that takes place at Golden Gardens, but that's about it for the familiar sights.The real local interest is its unique supporting cast. Most notable is the late Steven "Jesse" Bernstein who acts as the film's narrator and lies on his back to ride his skateboard. Hank Harlan (better known as Bill Bored, the host of  Bombshelter Videos) pops up in a small role, and the cast is rounded out with a bunch of cool local pre-grunge musicians including  Amy Denio, and  Bill Rieflin.

Shredder Orpheus ultimately fails as an entertaining skateboarding science fiction mini-epic, but its story failures are overshadowed by its oddball vibe. The movie made me long for the days before the dot-com explosion with its cheesy evocation of a sleepier (and weirder) Seattle.

-Spenser Hoyt

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