Prepare yourself for yet more Terribleco history, as we continue with a look back at the 20 years of this blog and the various projects that have been spawned by it. Today’s treat is a personal favourite of mine. 2010’s Cthulhu – a video that I think is one of the finest productions to come out of this blog.
Compared to some of the other classics that have been re-uploaded, this oddity did not receive an review in Sidewalk. I don’t know if it was just too weird for them or if they were cutting down on reviewing low budget DIY videos to concentrate on more professional fare. Don’t let that put you off watching this video though – it slaps.
Heavily inspired by the works of Chris Morris, David Lynch and Dom Joly, Cthulhu is what happens when you put Twin Peaks, Trigger Happy TV, the video tape from ‘The Ring’ and a Thrasher VHS into a blender and mix it for 35 minutes. It’s odd, uncomfortable, ethereal and dreamlike, but like all good Terribleco videos it’s raw, dirty and loud.
The Story Of Cthulhu
The blog’s first 9 videos can be sort of contained into trilogies. The first 3 videos are very small scale, extremely amateur, and mostly just a small group of 5 friends making videos. The 2nd trilogy is where I found our feet creating scene videos – the crew expanded and we were mostly creating videos featuring most of the Coventry scene. The 3rd trilogy (which Cthulhu capped off) was when the quality of my videos reached a peak that I think I’ve struggled to reach ever since, and the list of featured names included high profile skaters from Coventry and beyond.
Those 9 videos chart the path of how The Terrible Company became what it is today, and no video sums up the peak of what this blog can accomplish with a video better than Cthulhu. Whilst the videos from the blog had increased in scope, Cthulhu juggled “sponsored skaters” with “local favourites” and a creative theme better than any video prior, and kept it at a length that never felt like it was too long. And that’s not even beginning to dive into the fact that Cthulhu came on a DVD that featured the legendary tour video “Sittin’ On The Toilet”, another one of my favourite Terribleco videos.
In particular, the trilogy of Guitar Solos With Skateboards, Batface and Cthulhu tapped into a specific kind of daft skateboarding nonsense that instantly made sense for the blog. As I’ve mentioned a few times over the last couple of videos I’ve written about recently, these were all inspired by Heroin’s “Live From Antarctica”, the BEEZ videos, Andy Evans’ “This N That” and Steve Reeves’ “Mall Grab”, and Terribleco started to embrace the silly side of skateboarding. And since then, I’ve never looked back.
Cthulhu was teased with a super weird “proof of concept” video clip (above) that I posted to the blog in early 2010. After Batface, this was meant to be another statement of intent that I was making a skateboard video that was creatively more diverse than what I had done before. I think I realised I had gotten so reliant on the standard skate video aesthetic that I wanted to dive into areas outside of skateboarding to make something more unique.
In terms of parts – Cthulhu is smaller scale than Batface. Batface was an hour long assault of 12 full sections, where everyone was filling an average of 3 to 4 minutes. In comparison, Cthulhu’s full parts are shorter on average, some sections are simply minute long “mini sections”, the pace is kept fast, and there’s a joint part from myself and Rosko. Honestly, that joint section is one of my favourite parts I’ve ever made for myself, Rosko does most of the heavy lifting with the best tricks in the section, and I just do some very solid skating on transitions and rugged street spots.
The experimentation never stops throughout the 37 minute runtime. Rather than have an intro that features skateboarding, the video opens with a skit involving a very tiny corridor in an Edinburgh apartment block, and my 7 foot tall brother-in-law dressed in a plague doctor outfit. There are constant, weird skits dropped throughout the video, from the short and mysterious skit of my wife Emily being chased by an unseen creature through a farmers field, to Slasher Sam digging up a skateboard in a makeshift Mongolian jungle (which was actually a Warwickshire forest).
And there was more. Framing someone’s part with a mockumentary about an energy drink related disappearance. An intermission about a clown cutting his hand open with a smashed bottle. Flashes of a naked man cropping up when you least expect it. Joxa dressed like Luigi. Stalking Patrick Stewart at a comic book convention and (not very) subtley trying to get his attention.
Even the skateboarding footage itself keeps up the weird experimentation and odd themes. Ralph Cooper’s short part is set to a really bad song with clips of cats on LSD flashing up between tricks. Sidewalk Forum lurker Matt Burrows’ single Terribleco part crops up in this video, set to an 80’s pop anthem, with all of his tricks intentionally set to 85% speed creating a really weird juxtaposition of a high tempo beat with tricks that frustratingly don’t line up.
Joxa’s last trick has a clip of him slamming on the same trick superimposed over the top (an artistic decision he still hasn’t forgiven me for). Cthulhu is a video filled with the sort of arthouse nonsense that you can only expect from a guy who had graduated from art school the year before, but I honestly think that’s what makes it good. Skateboarding is all about personal expression, and if you aren’t bringing a little bit of what exists inside your own skull to it, what’s the point?
Whenever I found myself getting too arty, I always remembered the opening skit of Ride’s 2008 video Humble Jumble, where Frocker had edited a super artsy, fancy intro with birds flying and shit, and phoned Jim The Skin up telling him the video was done. Jim then says “It ain’t got any of those arty, poncy clips of birds flying and shit has it?”, before showing Frocker’s face, frozen with pure panic, replying with “Err… no.”. My barometer was to make something artsy and weird, but something that Jim The Skin would be happy watching. I called it GnArt. It had to remain raw, rough, punk as fuck – tonally more GG Allin than David Lynch.
The truth is I could never compete with the likes of Get Lesta with the sort of odd trick selection I enjoy filming and the rogue’s gallery of longtime Cov lurkers I surround myself with. Competing isn’t what skateboarding is about, though. Embracing utterly daft nonsense and pairing it with utterly daft skateboarding is a niche I enjoy playing in.
Dropping these things in that have no place in a skateboard video sets a tone that makes it possible for any discipline of skateboarding to be shown. If you have told the audience that you have no qualms with just putting full-on nudity in front of them for a split second, or you spend a good minute talking about someone going insane after drinking something called “Mind Cry”, then seeing someone do a dumb boneless followed by a more traditional technical flip trick line doesn’t seem quite so weird.
Listen, the moral of the story is stop thinking about what skateboarding tells you is cool and just do your own thing. Even if that involves Dave Heywood’s penis (Sorry Dave).
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