He admits that Flesh was a version of an Italian film he'd seen eight years prior, at least the skeleton of the story: a person going out to make some money for his family and coming back home. Morrissey realized he could just borrow the simplistic stories the Italian films were telling, since American films were much more elaborate "in some silly way."
"I deal with drugs and prostitution and people with no morality. But to me they were not a serious subject that you should say, 'Oh, what are we going to do about this?' That's all the socialist, political way of dealing with a story," says Morrissey. "It was 'Aren't human beings foolish in their behavior?' Humorous really. Not to be agonized over but to be sort of laughed at. I think that humanizes the story and also it takes the pretentiousness out of it."
The Sixties weren't just about hippies and tie-dye: Paul
Morrissey (top) and "Factory" regular Joe Dallesandro
Otherwise, there was no independent film movement at the time that a director like Morrissey could tap into for resources or ideas. Besides the occasional small release of indie-type films, the only movies that he could point to as being outside the control of film companies and formulas were from Europe.
Morrissey gave up filmmaking about the same time the official "indie" film movement began in the late Eighties. Too much control by distributors and production companies, such as adhering to their approved cast list and other necessities, pushed purists like Morrissey away from the industry.
You can catch Morrissey in Miami for screenings of Trash, Heat, and Flesh for Frankenstein, where he will be on hand to talk about his films. But just don't bring up the dreaded "W" name.
"If you ask me questions about the credits and you can't read the credits as they exist in the right way -- I get bothered by that all the time. So if you just see some credits, Andy Warhol, look and see what the hell credit it is," sighs Morrissey. "It doesn't make sense to me. All I know is that I've encountered it for 30 years and it doesn't want to go away."
Trash shows on Friday, March 12; Heat shows on Saturday, March 13; and Flesh for Frankenstein shows on Sunday, March 14, at the Miami Beach Cinematheque, 512 Española Way. All screenings are at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 for Cinematheque members, $10 for nonmembers. Call 305-673-4567.