King Loser – Dir: Cushla Dillon & Andrew Moore (Film Review)

King Loser documents the ups and (mostly) downs of one of the greatest unknown and underappreciated bands of the nineties.

When I moved to New Zealand in the mid-90s I had a vague knowledge of the music scene. I’s seen Split Enz, heard Heavenly Pop Hit on the radio and developed an admiration for Chris Knox and Straitjacket Fits.

King LoserBut as soon as I got here, the Fits had imploded so I needed to find another band to cheer for. That band was King Loser.

I caught them opening for Garageland at The Powerstation and was besotted. There was still life in the NZ music scene and King Loser were proof of it.

I bought You Cannot Kill What Does Not Live on CD (wish I had the vinyl) and saw them as many times as possible.

Frontperson/bassist Celia Mancini was impossible not to watch…beautiful, talented, usually under the influence but full of a rock & roll spirit that flowed on through the rest of the band that included guitarist Chris Heazlewood, bassist Lance Strickland and a host of drummers (at least 15).

They broke up around the turn of the century due to the usual, ‘musical differences’, drugs, money and failed relationships, but then miraculously reunited in 2016 for a brief tour that culminated in their final show at Auckland’s beloved Kings Arms on September 22, 2016. A year later Celia was gone.

King Loser

This film tells King Loser’s (and Celia’s) story in grainy detail. Fans of a certain age with thrill to the old VHS footage while other will wonder how this band ever managed to stay together long enough to record.

But despite the arguments and name-calling, there is a love that comes through that held these folks together.

Rock & Roll’s a loser’s game’, sang Mott The Hoople’s Ian Hunter and there was no bigger loser than King Loser.

Marty Duda

NZIFF screenings: Friday July 28 8:30pm, Sunday July 30 7:00pm and Monday July 31 3:45pm

Click here for tickets