Like fellow Dutchmen Paul Verhoeven and Jan De Bont, Rene Daalder was drafted by Hollywood to make genre films, though his inclinations ran a little artier. Daalder achieved some cult success with the 1976 drive-in classic Massacre At Central High; then Russ Meyer asked him to work on the star-crossed Sex Pistols movie Who Killed Bambi? Newly infatuated with punk rock, Daalder struck up a friendship with Tomata Du Plenty, leader of the theatrical L.A. synth-punk act The Screamers. Throughout the first half of the '80s, Daalder and Du Plenty tried and failed to get multiple music-video projects off the ground, until in 1986, they finally released Population: 1, a quasi-science-fiction art-punk musical cobbled together from pieces of footage Daalder shot with Du Plenty over the years, cleverly layered with the help of state-of-the-art image-manipulation effects.
Population: 1 stars Du Plenty as a man who survives a nuclear holocaust and proceeds to deliver an hourlong beatnik monologue—punctuated by musical numbers—about the decadence of Earth's final days. The "I remember when" format gives Daalder leeway to work in a lot of his old footage while experimenting with the new. Population: 1 features Du Plenty getting groomed by stop-motion animated razors and hair dryers, goth vamps singing in front of World War II stock footage, a skiffle band playing on a rotating dais (including a prepubescent Beck Hansen on the accordion), Du Plenty ranting about being "Holden Caulfield… Huckleberry Finn… James Dean in East Of Eden," and multiple sequences in which jaded youths dance spasmodically while vintage skin flicks and/or tinny new-wave music plays.
Population: 1's hodgepodge of avant-garde techniques and proto-MTV imagery—all more a function of necessity than design—might strike some as pretentious and shrill, but it's also evocative and energetic, and in keeping with Daalder's other work. In addition to Population: 1, Cult Epics recently released Daalder's Here Is Always Somewhere Else, a documentary about his friend Bas Jan Ader, a Dutch performance artist who also came to L.A. and became infatuated with how the city reflected social decline. In Population: 1, Daalder distills his fascination and disgust with America into 60 solid minutes of pop-surrealism and Chroma key abuse.
Key features: Interviews with the cast and crew, bonus Screamers performance footage, and the short film "Je Maintiendrai," which spoofs the Dutch invasion of Hollywood.