is an independent film written and directed by Karim Hussain
and produced by Mitch Davis
. It was filmed over a long period of time, from February 1994 to December 1999, and debuted at the Festival de Cine de Sitges
on October 12, 2000. The film went on to screen at several other festivals, including the Stockholm International Film Festival
and Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival
before being released on DVD on April 18, 2005.
does not consist of a single plot or timeline; rather, it is a series of vignettes
that explore the filmmakers' visions. The visuals of the film frequently deal with taboo subjects, and much of the film is considered to be disturbing to the audience
As the film progresses, the viewer encounters such subject matter as masturbation
, and cannibalism
, as well as frequent depictions of bodily fluids of every kind. Hussain's vision for the film was to present an unforgettable visual and sonic experience, and to challenge popular ideals of film
History and development
Hussain began filming Subconscious Cruelty
at the age of 19 after connecting with 22-year-old Davis, a producer whom Hussain knew to believe in the project. Hussain felt that the subculture
of the mid-1990s, a time when heroin
usage was prevalent and nihilism
was gaining acceptance in the art world, would be accepting of his film. Influences for the film include works by Alexandro Jodorowsky
, Luis Buñuel
, Dušan Makavejev
, and others
The filmmaking process was beset by various problems, including the disappearance of the film negative in a financial dispute, forcing Hussain to hand-cut the positive of the film without knowing if he would ever re-gain the negative. Another setback occurred when Hussain was stopped at the Canadian border after a business trip to the United States. Canadian customs officials inspected the film, and, appalled by its content, confiscated it as illegally obscene material. As a result, the original stock had to be hidden for a long period of time
As the film toured various festivals, it gained a cult following that led to Davis and Hussain seeking out a DVD distributor. The film was first produced on DVD in Japan in 2001, and later in several European countries and Canada in 2005.
received mixed reviews by mostly non-mainstream critics. Since the film was not released in the US market, traditional critics of English-language films did not see or comment on it. Known establishments such as Fangoria
considered it "a film suffused with images that incite thoughts, many of which would be considered unhealthy in any artistic medium"
, while some other independent critics considered it "the most amateurish cinematic junk I have ever seen..."
is available in PAL
format, notable since it is a Canadian-made film and NTSC
format is traditionally used in North America. It includes an hour-long "making of" documentary
, as well as the short film Divided Into Zero
, directed by Mitch Davis.