A gentle film critic hooks up with a violent drifter in this HIV-positive road movie, which marked the emergence of writer/director Gregg Araki into the art house mainstream.
Jon (Craig Gilmore) has just learned he has the virus that causes AIDS. Still in a state of shock, he stumbles through his usual routine -- until he meets Luke (Mike Dytri), a hunky, gun-toting hitchhiker who has just stolen a car from a pair of homicidal lesbians and shot a trio of would-be gay bashers.
Against his better judgment, Jon lets Luke stay at his place and soon finds himself drawn into the nihilistic stranger's world; it doesn't hurt that Luke is also HIV-positive and hot to get inside Jon's pants. Things take a Bonnie and Clyde turn when Luke kills a policeman.
The pair go on the lam, first to San Francisco, then all over the western United States. Jon keeps his best friend, Darcy (Darcy Marta), apprised of his situation via a series of ever more infrequent collect calls.
But as the road trip continues, Jon becomes increasingly disillusioned with Luke's belief that since they're doomed to die, they should lead consequence-free lives.
Like Araki's later movies, The Living End is peppered with pop culture detritus and features a soundtrack heavy on industrial and alternative music -- in this case Psychic TV, Coil, and Fred Gianelli.
Marta is a veteran of Araki's earlier Three Bewildered People in the Night, while several other cast members, including Gilmore, would go on to appear in the director's Totally F***ed Up. The Living End's many cameos include performance artist Johanna Went, Eating Raoul director Paul Bartel, Warhol associate Mary Woronov, and Peter Grame, star of the obscure European film Das Gluck Beim Haendewaschen.