Garnering a strong reputation for his uncompromising, nonconformist attitude, Araki truly erupted from the underground in 1992 with The Living End, a film about two HIV positive gay lovers which introduced a much more tragic element to his work. In 1994 he began his "Teen Apocalypse" trilogy with Totally F****ed Up; the subversion continued with The Doom Generation, a road movie marked by a near-despairing black comedy. Araki completed the cycle in 1997 with Nowhere, which he describes as "an episode of "Beverly Hills 90210" on acid".
In 1999, Araki directed Kathleen Robertson, who had already appeared in Nowhere, in the comedy Splendor. After a period working in TV, the director was critically lauded for his treatment of the taboo subject of paedophilia in Mysterious Skin (2005), an adaptation of Scott Heim's eponymous novel. Araki's film Smiley Face screened in Directors'. Fortnight, in 2007, and Kaboom marked Gregg Araki's second selection in Cannes.