.A week ago I received a VHS copy of Burr Jerger's General Massacre. A 1973 film directed, written, produced, and starring Mr. Jerger based on (inspired by?) his book, Massacre at My Lai. The actual massacre was undoubtedly an abhorrent act committed by out-of-control American soldiers and their commanders. A true black mark on American history from a period that many in the country are still struggling with. Though concerning this particular film, that's beside the point, at least according to Jerger himself.
The thing is Jerger's film isn't quite based on the events, but more an amalgamation of those involved condensed into one fictional general by the name of, you guessed it, General Massacre in a boring-as-hell fictional story. The film occurs at the court-martial of Massacre with the officer at the stand over an unnamed mass murder intercut with flashbacks to several weeks earlier with his return home to his daughter. We hear all about Massacre's trite warmongering ideology in his own words while witnessing his fractured psyche while playing out war games in the forest near his home. A real cow and ducks are machine gunned to death (this is why it's banned in several countries), the general rides about on horseback, has visions of his now dead wife running around naked, watches violent newsreels from various wars, and dispenses creepy psychobabble to his daughter and a corporal who tagged along with him.
It's obvious your cinematic aspirations have failed when there's three screens of text preambling your film to explain its overall point. From this text, we find out before frame one this is an anti-war film dealing with serial killers finding a path for their demented obsession through the military and war. That's all well-and-good, but I have to take exception with Jerger's direct finger pointing at U.S. forces while not even referring to the My Lai Massacre by name in his feature. General Massacre essentially tries to make the extreme case for all American generals and servicemen being no better than murderers who get kicks out of sexualized violence without acknowledging the many wartime atrocities committed by other countries throughout history. Of course, Nazi Germany is evoked in Massacre's questioning, but only as another device to show how cracked the man's viewpoint is. "The Nazis were inferior simply because they did not win."
Now, this blog has never been about politics, but let me get on my NASCAR-watchin', Bud-guzzlin', Wal Mart-shoppin' American made soapbox for a minute. If Jerger was still alive today, I'd tell him to go blow it out of his ass. It would have been one thing to fashion a literal re-telling of the My Lai Massacre on film, I can't believe Oliver Stone hasn't yet, but synthesizing the event (and probably others) in this way just reeks of seething hatred towards the United States that stretches far beyond Vietnam. I'm sorry, that's not going to pass.
It's like getting "I told you so!" screamed in your face for an hour and a half by an idiot whose hopelessly wrapped up in his own agenda. That's not from anything this grating crap dished out hitting too close to home; it's from "I'm going to snap this fucking tape in half after it's over." I can't claim to be a history major; but what about the actual My Lai Massacre, the Viet Cong's slaughtering of their own people, Mengele's inhuman Jewish experimentation, or General Ishii's Unit 731 which still brings unspeakable shame to Japan? Real acts and men who impacted the 20th Century in incredibly treacherous ways. Deal in that, Mr. Jerger, not some poorly executed made-up clusterfuck diatribe that seems to have been promptly forgotten about by real history. Think of any war film. Got one? It's vastly superior to General Massacre. Think of any unknown '70s cult flick. Got one? It's vastly superior to General Massacre. Jerger's unknown film and book deserve their existing place in history. Shit man, I'm watching Blood Freak now just to awash myself of this garbage.