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Tusk

Written and Directed by Kevin Smith (2014)

By Tom BakerPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 5 min read
Top Story - April 2024
14
Grosser than gross: Wallace the Walrus (Justin Long) in TUSK.

Tusk is a movie I discovered, along with The Caretaker and Max Fleischer's original Superman cartoons, in a dream. Most of my creative choices, as well as what I intellectually consume, are decided upon because of dreams. If I dream a song, I listen to it as soon as I wake up. If I dream of a movie or a book, I watch the movie or read the book (or some of it that same day). I want to know what the larger mind, the Universal Conscious Awareness, is trying to impart to me as a "message." This is guaranteed to reap dividends.

In the dream, I was in a basement (subconscious) theater, a "theater of the mind," so to speak, watching a stage production of an Elephant Man knock-off called "Mr. Tusk." The actor had a weird, wooden piece of, I suppose, bamboo headgear on which made it seem as if tusks were projecting from his lips. He was dressed, obviously, in Victorian fashion, in a basement room that might have overlooked Bedstead Square, with actresses who were supposed to be nurses, and a Doctor Treves character speaking with him. A rumbling took me (or some approximation thereof in the second or third degree) into an adjoining room, and up a central flight of stairs (brain stem) as two Max Fleischer 1942 cartoon secretaries or whatever came rushing down the stairs--animated women with just after Pearl Harbor hairdos who exclaimed, "He's coming! The Caretaker..."

I woke up before the Caretaker arrived, but I discovered the movie (a filmed micro-budgeted adaptation of Harold Pinter's play starring such regal, sixties British actors as Alan Bates, Robert Shaw, and Donald Pleasance) and found it quite to my liking, the "attic room" depicted in the largely empty, spooky, cavernous house being a convenient stand-in, or metaphor, for the human mind. I wrote about this film a few years later; also the Max Fleischer cartoons. However, I didn't discover Tusk until last year.

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Tusk was written and directed by Kevin Smith, who wrote and directed the mid-nineties cult film Clerks, as well as bigger films such as Mall Rats, Dogma, etc. He is, or was, a large, shambling Gen-X icon (he's slimmed down since his near-fatal heart attack) who loves comic books, and indeed, I've never seen Clerks, but I have read one of his comic book stories in a weird little thing called Oni Double Feature, which features a story of his well-loved characters Jay and Silent Bob, tormenting a dog they get high or something. The dog gets an erection (this is shown), and chases Jay and Silent Bob. (If you'll forgive us, the plot is not exactly by Noel Coward.)

You flip the comic over, and you get an entirely different comic, not by Kevin Smith, about ravers operating a pirate radio station or something.

Cinema Veri-Gross.

Tusk is about a duo of podcasters (one, Haley Joel Osment, a convenient Kevin Smith alter ego) who make a young kid an internet star by posting a video of him cutting off his leg in a bloody accident while shooting what amounts to a TikTok clip with a Samurai sword. The lead podcast host, Wallace, (Justin Long) is an abrasive, obnoxious, unlikable guy, very cynical and crass, who travels to Canada to interview the kid only to find out he's committed suicide. While managing to piss off all of his Canadian hosts, he stumbles across a weird, handwritten letter from an eccentric old man (the late Michael Parks). Contacting the man, and then going to his murder mystery mansion, Wallace the Podcaster listens as the old man tells tall tales about meeting Hemingway at D-Day, getting shipwrecked and castaway on an outcropping of rock, and a rather nauseating tale of how a walrus saved his life. At this point, the viewer had better be ready, as the rest of the film is a real nosedive into the blackly humorous grotesque, and horrifically sickening.

You see, the old man, who drugs Wallace's tea, has plans for the podcaster. He's going to turn Wallace into a walrus by lopping off his arms, and legs, and sewing him into a walrus suit made from human flesh. He's also going to drill holes in his mouth for the tusks. He does all this. The result is intensely, uncomfortably wretch-inducing. You get the idea the original walrus ("Mr. Tusk") was maybe the old man's lover or something. You start feeling queasy.

Wallace's buddy and his girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez), go to Canada to try andfind him. (Note: Wallace has a series of weird flashbacks, in which the movie goes to a "confessional" documentary-esque style, focusing on the emotional breakdown of the girlfriend, as well as Wallace's bad behavior.) They meet up with a couple of blonde convenience store clerks and a detective, a French-Canadian stereotype, Guy Lapointe, (Johnny Depp in an uncredited role), who wears a beret and might have been ripped from an old sketch comedy show from fifty years ago or better, say "Carol Burnett." He has a very odd scene, placed at the end of the film, which could almost have been lifted from a surrealistic short skit, like something from David Lynch's mini-film "The Cowboy and the Frenchman."

Wallace, gimp-like, is reduced to living in his human walrus suit. He is fed raw mackerel. Why give away the ending? If the viewer gets to this point in the picture, he or she deserves the denouement (and a medal, perhaps). The ending is as absurd as the preceding picture. But it is also just as horrific.

Tusk is gross-out stuff, not for the faint of heart. Performances are good, and the obnoxiousness of the podcasters and everyone else here is well-played. (Canadians might take umbrage with it.) I watched it because I had another dream, one wherein Death, from Neil Gaiman's The Sandman graphic novel epic, was lying on a couch, transformed into a manga girl, and we were watching No Country for Old Men (haven't seen that one yet), when the channel flipped over to a documentary on drug use wherein Johnny Depp narrates (he being most certainly a self-educated expert on the subject). I remembered Depp narrated a documentary on Hunter S. Thompson, but, having little desire to sit through it yesterday, I also remembered his appearance in Tusk, which I had still to see.

I want to close by saying this film, while ostensibly based on one of Kevin Smith's podcasts, was also clearly inspired by a song from those lovable moptops of yesteryear, who observed that, while indeed the singer is "The Walrus," you sir, are, in point of fact, the "EGG MAN."

Coo Coo Kachoo.

Tusk | Official Trailer HD | A24

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About the Creator

Tom Baker

Author of Haunted Indianapolis, Indiana Ghost Folklore, Midwest Maniacs, Midwest UFOs and Beyond, Scary Urban Legends, 50 Famous Fables and Folk Tales, and Notorious Crimes of the Upper Midwest.: http://tombakerbooks.weebly.com

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Comments (8)

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  • Mika Oka23 days ago

    Congratulations on your top story

  • Ameer Bibi2 months ago

    Congratulations 🎉🎉🎉 for top story You're on a roll! Your motivation is igniting a path to greatness

  • Anna 2 months ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • Eddiereader2 months ago

    What is it?

  • Haven't seen "Tusk" but I must admit that it sounds fascinating. May have to check it out.

  • angela hepworth2 months ago

    Great story! Tusk sure was disturbing, can’t say I’ve been quite the same after seeing it. It’s truly the definition of the grotesque!

  • ROCK 2 months ago

    Thanks to your Top Story I found you and subscribed!

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