Infected: The Movie (1986)
by sfe medusa
(dir. Tim Pope, Peter Christopherson, Alastairs McIlwain, Mark Romanek)
Back in 1986, long before the much touted originality of Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade, Matt Johnson of (the somehow frustratingly named) band The The made a 40-minute film to accompany the band’s heavily political second album, Infected.
Screened on its 31st birthday at the ICA in London, the film is a delightful Eighties treat, complete with hyper-symbolic, disseminate story-telling and the ingenious visual trickery of resourceful film-making, energetically edited to pair perfectly with the album’s guttural and throbbing wanderings.
The directing talents of legendary music video director Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson and featured images from the band’s regular album artworker Andy Dog are much welcomed, as is the knowledge of how much of a wreckhead Johnson turned out to be, as Wikipedia confirms:
It was when Johnson and Christopherson flew to South America to film the videos for “Infected” and “Mercy Beat” that events started to spiral out of control. Filming in the Peruvian jungle in Iquitos, Johnson used the services of a local Indian tribe as guides. The Indians introduced Johnson, already an enthusiastic user of drugs, to the hallucinogenic concoctions used in their tribal rituals. The video for “Mercy Beat” captures a scene where during filming the crew were attacked by a rally of Communist rebel fighters, angry at the appearance of what they considered Western intruders. Johnson confirmed that the scene was genuine and unscripted, and admitted that at the time he was “so high”, recalling the madness that had ensued: “Someone produced a snake which I was grappling with, and I hate snakes. A monkey bit me, and then me and this guy, who I’d only just met, cut each other and we became blood brothers, rubbing blood over each other’s face, stuff like that.”
In general it sounded like he cocked about quite a lot during shooting, but rightly so since he somehow secured £350k of funding and shoot locations in Peru and New York, all as a relatively small-time newcomer.
Nevertheless, Andy Dog’s cover artwork remains wildly on point: