I Like to Watch (Instantly): Aeon Flux: The Complete Animated Collection
Notable titles from the Netflix Watch Instantly world
Directed by Howard E. Baker, Peter Chung
Cast: Denise Poirier, Matt K. Miller, John Rafter Lee
In the early ’90s the first handful of Peter Chung’s “Aeon Flux” shorts totally blew the minds of flannel-clad, bong-huffing, MTV watchers everywhere, and it’s easy to see why: They still stand up as quite unlike anything before or since.
Totally non-verbal, these mini-non-episodes delight in carefully setting up audience expectation, then sadistically subverting it by killing off the heroine (a trope in these early shorts) or suddenly depicting the army of pursuing bad guys as abused victims crying out for help. And what about the transgressive depiction of tongues and orifices and oozing alien eggs? Oh yes. The biological gross-out, as with David Cronenberg’s yuckier films, is high art here.
Unfortunately, whatever temporary autonomous zone that was in effect to allow Chung the freedom to make these uncompromising experiments evaporated as the character and her dystopian world were suddenly crammed into a 22-minute format burdened with tedious dialogue and labored plots, in effect becoming what the initial “Aeon Flux” incarnation had been parodying. Aeon Flux died a final and permanent death after that, except for a crappy in-name-only film from 2005. Oh well.
You can watch all the episodes on YouTube, but the Netflix WI versions are higher quality (as good as a fresh VHS copy from 1992 anyway) and commercial-free. You can watch all the good ones in slightly over 30 minutes. If you want to taste just one, try “Tide” (my personal favorite).