Where director Todd Phillips’ documentary “Hated: GG Allin & the Murder Junkies” covered the wild and crazy adventures of America’s most degenerate punk, GG Allin; director Sami Saif presents the aftermath that his brother Merle and mother Arleta navigate as they both cope-with and honor his legacy in the years following his death. The two surviving members of Allin’s family have very different perspectives on the man whose birth certificate read “Jesus Christ Allin.” Where his mother declares that she loved Kevin (who’s name she changed after leaving their abusive father) and hated GG, his brother relentlessly aims to keep his legacy alive.
The film opens at the cemetery where GG rests today. The scene shows a fan “paying tribute” by urinating on his headstone and is quickly followed by Merle accosting the individual and then smashing an acoustic guitar against him. His mother laments her inability to visit her late son’s resting place and it is soon established that despite what you may have heard about GG Allin, his family continues to love and mourn his death today, regardless of flying feces, stints in jail, and all the other nefarious things most of us identify with the man and his music.
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The film presents both Merle’s and Arleta’s lives in the wake of Allins’ death. We see brother Merle in his home (a veritable shrine to his brother) as he books tours with GG’s band the Murder Junkies, answers fans questions on Facebook, and paints original artwork with his own feces. We also watch his mother read Mother’s Day cards that GG sent her from prison, talk about some of her regrets about GG’s life choices, and generally tug at our heart strings throughout the film. While we watch Arleta distinguish GG Allin from her son Kevin Allin, Merle is there to show they were two sides of the same coin.
The films covers GG and Merle’s childhood in New Hampshire, their early bands, GG’s stints in prison, the eventual birth of the Murder Junkies, and even a few minutes from GG’s funeral. Past and present members of the Murder Junkies also appear alongside die-hard fans, hangers-on, and other characters whose lives intersected with the Allin’s over time. Clocking in at 74-minutes, the film is the perfect compliment to Phillip’s 1993 documentary. Indeed, learning more about GG’s upbringing and the undying support of his family help humanize the individual that pop culture has labeled a miscreant since the moment he entered our awareness.
The Allins: One Hell of a Family, like it’s title implies, is a film about family. Sure, there’s plenty of GG included, but if you’re looking for never-before-seen footage of him flinging shit and cutting himself, look elsewhere. If you’re interested in how his infamous legacy has impacted those closest to him and want to know more about the human himself, then this is exactly what you want. Also, if you watch this film and don’t want to give Arleta a hug, you have no soul and should go jump off a cliff. You can watch the trailer here.
– J. Kevin Lynch