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The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico

Year: 2005
Language: English
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 86 min
Director: Michael Mabbot
Producer: Nicholas Tabarrok
Writer: Michael Mabbot
Cinematographer: Adam Swica
Editor: Gareth Scales
Sound: Rob Fletcher
Music: Michael Mabbot, Matt Murphy
Cast: Natalie Radford, Donnie Fritts, Rob Bowman, Lyriq Bent, Jane Sowerby, Levon Helm, Kris Kristofferson, Phil Kaufman, Merle Haggard, Matt Murphy
Production Company: Darius Films Inc.

Alternative country and its booze-fuelled macho mythmaking get a well-deserved work-over in Michael Mabbott’s raunchy mockumentary The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico. A feel-good homage to the outlaw-country scene of the early seventies, the film features testimonials from some of the scene’s most famous and infamous figures – Kris Kristofferson, Levon Helm and Merle Haggard among them – as they recount the legendary, self-destructive antics of the hard-drinking, hard-living cult hero who never quite made it – or, for that matter, ever recorded an album.

Guy Terrifico (former Flashing Lights and Super Friendz front man Matt Murphy) starts out as Jim Jablowski, a small-town prairie boy who just wants to play music, until an improbable lottery win leaves him extraordinarily wealthy. He buys a bar where he hopes to launch his career and sets out to record an album, only to be distracted and sidetracked by his shady entourage, a seemingly bottomless capacity for liquor and narcotics, and his unfortunate but highly popular habit of humping his drum kit.

In his freewheeling but tightly structured debut feature (the plot was apparently inspired by Kristofferson’s song "The Pilgrim, Ch.33"), Mabbott riffs on a host of outlaw-country myths and incidents, from the bizarre saga of Gram Parson’s death to Kristofferson’s intoxicated acceptance speech at the 1970 Country Music Awards – which parallels Guy’s own, hilarious meltdown on a squeaky-clean Christian television show.

The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico tied with Louise Archambault’s Familia for the Best First Canadian Feature Film award at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival® and won the Audience Favourite award at the Victoria Independent Film & Video Festival. It was also named one of Canada’s Top Ten of 2005 by an independent, national panel of filmmakers, programmers, journalists and industry professionals.

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