THE RUNMAN VIDEO by Matt Warshaw Surfer Mag sept. 1986


" Ronald Reagan exits Air Force One with that kindly, semi-vacant, glued-on smile, waving at reporters- completely oblivious to the subversive activity happening right behind him, as First Dog Rex lowers his rear haunches and squats one on the Presidential tarmac. See it on the The RUNMAN Video. Rex, of course, has no direct connection to surfing, and the clip is disgusting, but RUNMAN thinks it's funny, so he spliced it into his movie. If you're smiling, you'll prpbably enjoy The RUNMAN Video. Score one for the underground. There's more to this thing than dogshit humor. RUNMAN(Ray Kleiman) took a video camera, $4oo dollars and a raised- middle- finger attitude, and made a 38-minute, throw- away surf movie that repeatedly whacks the nail right on the head. The RUNMAN Video is worthwhile and entertaining: agressive, rough, and stinking of rebellion. Parents probably won't like it. But for the slashing young guns 'round the world, this is the real stuff. This movie was made by one of their own. Kleiman's not 40-year-old, third generation Bruce Brown xerox, flogging his latest "radical-action-all-new-footage-hardcore-best-ever" surf production. He's a 23-year-old punk kid from Malibu, who knows that surfing- despite the recent shift to high-gloss- is largely about rebellion. And that a surf movie industry walking arm-in-arm with the status quo is just begging for a good forearm to the chops. RUNMAN delivers it. Halfway through the film there's a break between songs, followed by the first grinding chords of the Sex Pistol's"Anarchy In The U.K.", with Johnny Rotten spitting out the words,"Right!Nowwwww!," then letting out that horrible chuckle. Onscreen, Backdoor Pipeline is chuckling grinding and spitting on its own. Rotten carries on,"I am an anti-christ!I am an anarchist!Don't know what I want, but I know how to get it...!" Direct hit. There's more energy in those few seconds than can be found spread across 90 minutes of the average surf production of late: A complete in-your-face to the "majors" by RUNMAN and his $400 piece of quality junk. Technically, of course, The RUNMAN Video suucks. Rebels don't finesse. The movie goes for feel, not focus. In the finaly tally, however, technical prowess doesn't matter: Aggression and energy obliterate clumsy filmmaking. RUNMAN did himself a huge favor by ripping off whatever music he wanted for his soundtrack--a luxury the majors can't afford. (RUNMAN'S working on the assumption that he's too small-time for record companies to chase down; he's probably right.) The importance of fitting sounds can't be understated, and the majors-through ignorance or lack of funds- have blown it badly in this department for years. The music is so good in The RUNMAN Video that it more than compensates for Kleiman's hack camera work- a good portion of which is dark, jumpy, scratchy, and fuzzy. Along with the Sex Pistols, other"contributors" include Pete Townshend, Eddie Cochran, Jeff Beck, Burning Sensations, Agent Orange and the Dead Kennedys. There's no way in the world the onsvreen action can keep pace with the music, but the RUNMAN's footage does have its moments. The featured talent is from all over the board, from square-carving to safety- crouching, from ratings leaders to semi-kooks, wko look suspiciously like friends of the filmmaker. RUNMAN leaves it to the viewer to figure out who's who, as no onscreen credits are given. Much of the surfing is mediocre, but in many cases, the average riding unintentionally serves to underscore the superior. The majority of The RUNMAN Video was shot at 4 mysto point breaks in the L.A. County area, all featuring double-up, full-suck righthanders. Some waves are worthless, small and onshore, and washing over the rocks. Some waves are perfectly coiled and firing. Mixed in with the near misses and never-should-haves are the deepest tube rides ever filmed in California, as well as some of the most ungodly wipeouts. All-time. Worth the price of admission. The high point of The RUNMAN Video, however, is the "Suicidal Sandbar Surfers" bit, shot during a hightide, summer swell at Zuma Beach, a revolting shorebreak left. Three surfers-2 goofies and a regular- begin their rides 20 feet off the beach, scratch into bouncy, vertical drops, set an edge and disappear into whiplash tubes, only to get systematically ground into the wet sand. No exits. The viewer is left squirming in his chair, watching these weirdoes play Russian roulette with their spinal chords. True maniacs. And, again, the music brings it all up to a friday night energy level, with INXS performing "What You Need". The major problem with The RUNMAN VIDEO is that Kleiman's as guilty as the next filmmaker of fattening up his product withweak footage. A lot of the rides are neither here nor there, and a few of the sequences drag. Furthermore, there's a glut of slow-motion footage- another universal surf movie mistake. The film wouldn't have lost any power trimmed back to 25 minutes. The Hawaiian segment is uneven but useful. serving its purpose by simply getting us out of California for a few minutes. The Outer island footage is noteable, as the locations look new and different. RUNMAN finds a full-grind, righthand reef that comes off as the perfect counterpart to the full-grind righthand point breaks back home. More tubes and wipeouts. Keeping with form, no spots or surfers are credited. The North Shore content is passable, but here RUNMAN'S lack of quality is called to the floor. The North Shore's been done too many times. We've seen the spots and the surfers and the moves, and we've seen them in better focus. The RUNMAN Video succeeds when it's showing us the unusual-when quality is secondary to content. Elsewhere in the video, certain clips refuse to mesh in any way, shape or form; the unimpressive skimboarding and skateboarding shots, for example, and a depressing view of the Malibu fire from a couple of years ago. The viewer has to indulge RUNMAN in these cases. Reaction to the humor clips will vary. What RUNMAN thinks is funny, others might find stupid: First Dog Rex is just one of a dozen-or-so, lowbrow jabs at humor, and if the other jabs aren't as crude, they're done in the same leftfield spirit. At varios points throughout the film, in fact, The RUNMAN Video comes across like a smug, smartass, inside joke, and your enjoyment of the movie may simply depend on which side of the joke you're on. As RUNMAN would say: Dig the massive energy and don't take it too seriously. THE UNDERGROUND LIVES "

Matt Warshaw