Totally F***ed Up (1993)

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Released 3-Apr-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio Commentary-Gregg Araki, James Duval, Gilbert Luna
Trailer-9 Songs; Bear Cub; The Fluffer
Trailer-Criminal Lovers; A History of Sex; The Hours and the Times
Trailer-Water Drops on Burning Rocks
Trailer-The Short Films of Francois Ozon
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 75:55 (Case: 80)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Gregg Araki
Accent Film Entertainment Starring James Duval
Roko Belic
Susan Behshid
Jenee Gill
Gilbert Luna
Lance May
Case Amaray-Opaque-Secure Clip
RPI $23.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Gregg Araki's most recent film, Mysterious Skin, stirred up a small storm of controversy when the usual family group suspects began calling for censorship of what they believed was a "how-to manual of sexual abuse." The film itself was clearly otherwise (none of the groups calling for its ban had seen the film): rather Mysterious Skin is a sensitive exploration of a difficult but all too real social issue. Of course Arkai has no doubt faced similar controversies before, as his films deal candidly with confronting issues of teen sexuality, homophobia, AIDS, and drug use. What sets his films apart from other "issues" film is his subtle balance of sly humour with a pathos devoid of overwrought sentimentality.

    Araki's early film, Totally F***ed Up, is perhaps one of his most personal efforts, exploring the alienation and angst felt by a tight group of queer teenagers. Andy (James Duval - the big bunny in Donnie Darko) is quiet, sullen and bored. Unsure if he is gay or if anything like love exists at all, he clings on to a distant hope for just one day of happiness. Tommy (Roko Belic) loves skating and sex, living for the next score. Michele (Susan Behshid) and Patricia (Jenee Gill) dream of starting a family together while Steven (Gilbert Luna) and Deric (Lance May) try to work out their sexual hang-ups and build a stronger relationship. Each of them share their thoughts on sex, drugs, AIDS, masturbation - on life, the universe, and everything - in front of Steven's video camera. Their ramblings are honest, confused, and even self-centred, but never fail to ring true.

    Araki adds numerous humorous and clever touches to the film, inserting title cards at random moments, commenting on the plot (the titles identify this film as "another homo film by Gregg Araki"). Tom Cruise is ribbed for staying in the closet and Mel Gibson is called out on his homophobia. After a title reading "Insert narrative here," Andy meets Ian and wonders if something special is beginning. Deric begins to worry if Steven is being faithful and Tommy's parents discover his secret stash of porn. All of this leads to a sudden and unexpected ending. In Araki's hands though, everything holds together and Totally F***ed Up, while not an optimistic film by any stretch of the imagination, is realism at its best. Growing up as a teenager is difficult at the best of times: struggling through those years as a queer teen is even harder. Araki's film ranks as one the most honest portrayals of adolescence yet. Highly recommended.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    Totally F***ed Up juxtaposes deliberately poor home video with clean 16mm footage. Accent have done an excellent job on the video transfer (and no doubt done some restoration work of their own). The film is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio of 1.37:1.

    Filmed footage is quite sharp and detail is very good. Video footage is soft and weak on detail. Grain is visible in most shots (particularly in the video) and can shimmer a little, especially in bright whites. Colours are washed out in the video segments, but realistic and well rendered in the film section.

    MPEG artefacts are almost completely absent. A shot of the smog over LA is a little pixelated, but that's it. The video footage exhibits plenty of video artefacts: microphony especially. Minor film artefacts are visible in the form of small black and white specks.

    No subtitles are included.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Audio varies between video and film footage but is generally good. An English Dolby Digital 2.0 (surround encoded) track and a commentary track are included.

    Dialogue is clean and clear in the film segments, hiss free but occasionally muffled. Video dialogue sounds hollow and includes hiss and crackle. Audio sync is mostly accurate.

    Surround activity is relatively subdued. Music, ambient effects, and the hiss and crackle of TV noise in the video segments are supported subtly by the rears. The ever present sounds of crickets spends most of the film in the front. Some of the music carries enough bass to bring the subwoofer to life. Frankly, though, the audio would have been fine in stereo.

    The film doesn't have a score but uses music from artists such as 16 Volt, Red House Painters, Ministry, and The Jesus & Mary Chain. A long list of bands are credited but many appear to have been cut from the film. The songs work well with the film and successfully capture teen angst and alienation in the early 1990s.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Audio Commentary

    Director Gregg Araki and actors James Duval and Gilbert Luna (the case lists only the director). Not the greatest of commentaries. The three participants get along very well, but use the commentary as little more than a vehicle for remembering the good old days. A lot of information about the shoot can be gleaned if you have the patience, but the excessive laughter and joking quickly become irritating.


    9 Songs (1:33) 16x9 enhanced; Bear Cub (1:35); The Fluffer (1:35); Criminal Lovers (0:39) 16x9 enhanced; A History of Sex (3:18); The Hours and Times (1:44) 16x9 enhanced; Water Drops on Burning Rocks (1:08); The Short Films of Francois Ozon (2:03).


R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release includes the same commentary and from all accounts has a good transfer, although (without doing a direct comparison) Accent's release sounds just a little better in the video department. Region 1 also includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. I can't imagine 5.1 audio making much of difference and call this one even. Go for the local distributor.


    Totally F***ed Up is an honest and sincere portrayal of teenage angst and sexuality. Highly recommended.

    Accent do their usual excellent work on both video and audio transfers.

    The commentary is not the greatest effort and might just as well have been left off.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Adam Atkinson (read my bio)
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-S336, using Component output
DisplayLG Flatron Widescreen RT-28FZ85RX. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationYamaha RX-V357
SpeakersDB Dynamics Belmont Series: Fronts: B50F, Centre: B50C, Rears: B50S, Sub: SW8BR

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