The problem with cheap apartments is that the walls are often very thin. Such was the case with the dilapidated place that friends Eddie Guerriero and Mitch Deprey moved into in San Francisco in 1987, where they soon began to hear, and eventually tape, drunken fighting coming from next door.
Roommates Raymond Huffman, a violent homophobe, and Peter Haskett, a gay man, would hatefully scream at each other almost every night, Huffman yelling things like If you wanna talk to me, then shut your fuckin mouth! and Haskett often countering with what would become an iconic phrase: Shut up, little man!
Matthew Bates new documentary Shut Up, Little Man! An Audio Misadventure, follows Gerriero and Deprey as they begin to tape their neighbors and unwittingly create a pre-Internet viral phenomenon. We wanted some sort of document of this crazy, belligerent mayhem that was going on next door to our bedroom wall 24/7, explains Gerriero. As the pair began to copy the tapes for friends who also found the material hilarious, it eventually spread throughout the country, inspiring comics by Daniel Clowes, music by DEVO, and even-tually a play and live-action film.
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But the documentary also exposes serious subject matter as the filmmakers attempt to track down the screaming men. Beyond the darkly funny recordings were two very depressing alcoholics, and the film ultimately questions the morality of this sort of voyeurism.
Shut Up, Little Man! opens today at the Denver FilmCenter/Colfax, 2510 East Colfax Avenue, and runs through October 6. For more info and to purchase tickets, visit www.denverfilm.org.
Sept. 30-Oct. 6, 2011