Salmonella Dub “Johnny”

1999-salmonella-dub-johnnySalmonella ditch the barbecue and get all film noir with the “Johnny” video. When we meet Johnny, he’s either having a terrible dream or undergoing brainwashing. Either way, the Salmonella Dub eye logo is emblazoned on his chest, and he’s just woken up to find himself at the corporate HQ of Salmonella Dub, Inc.

The band suspiciously eye this dodgy looking fellow who had ended up in their highrise Auckland boardroom. He’s given a package and ends up going to a night club. There he encounters a femme fatale who is all seductive glances and hair. There’s also tense conversations with goons involving guns, the mysterious package and eyebrows.

The femme fatale seduces Johnny. She has a cigarette, but it turns out to be the same variety that the Penguin smoked on Batman. She blows a poisonous gas in his face, knocking him out.

Johnny wakes up and discovered he’s in the back of a convertible, travelling on a scenic bush road. He leaps out of the car, but the goons are soon on his trail. Deep into the bush he runs, eventually coming across a dam. There’s gunfire (crikey!) and Johnny commandeers the abseiling set-up of a nearby DOC worker and sets off down the dam.

There’s a tense 14-second gap where Johnny stands at the edge of the dam. Is he gonna jump? No, he’s going to climb down with the abseiling ropes. The chasing thug pulls at the ropes before strapping himself onto a second rope, chasing after Johnny.

This results in one of the greatest, most ambitious scenes in a New Zealand music video: a choreographed fight between two men on abseiling ropes, halfway down a dam. As far as ridiculous yet awesome cinematic things involving dams, it is second only to the opening scenes of “GoldenEye”.

At the bottom of the dam, the femme fatale awaits, smashing him with her gun. The goons have the package and they reveal it to Johnny. It’s… a snack-size pizza box with the Salmonella Dub logo painted inside it. Wait, what? Someone needs to teach the Dub what a MacGuffin is.

Best bit: the mid-’90s retro Tarantino vibe.

Director: Greg Riwai
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… can you feel the claustrophobia?

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