Saturday, December 10, 2011
THE DARK BACKWARD
How's this for an original movie premise? Two friends, Marty Malt, and Gus live, and work as garbage men in a post industrialized wasteland. Gus is content with living a sleazy subsistent existence as a metaphorical human cockroach, living off what he and Marty find at the dump. Marty, however, has aspirations of becoming a stand up comedian. After some failed attempts on stage during a local amateur night, Marty decides to give up on his dreams of being a comic. The next day he wakes up with a strange lump in between his shoulder blades. Over the course of a few days, the protuberance forms into a fully functional third arm. Mortified, Marty tries to keep his new limb a secret, but Gus and a sleazy talent agent named Jackie Chrome view Marty's newly acquired appendage as a gimmick to be exploited in the screwball sideshow world of showbiz.
blasé of the old "third arm out of the back trick" than the musical accompaniment of a deviate with an accordion.
A movie almost too bizarre for it's own good, The Dark Backward carries and unabashed heart on it's sleeve for the outlandish, and reads like a love letter to, from, and for the terminally weird. In spite if it's overarching oddness and the fact that it was Director Adam Rifkin's first feature, it sports an unusually ample budget and a strong Hollywood cast with names like Judd Nelson, Bill Paxton, Wayne Newton, James Caan, Rob Lowe, and Lara Flynn Boyle. Most of whom knowingly took a bit of a paycut, compared to their usual fare, because they loved the script's original approach, zany characters, surreal setting, and it's tongue-in-cheek mockery of the entertainment industry. On the dvd's bonus features section James Caan and Bill Paxton speak about their mutual affinity for the film. They've both said that it was among their best personal performances and that The Dark Backward remains one of the most cherished projects in their careers.
The KVLT would love to party with Bill Paxton, or at least party like Bill Paxton. Clearly, the man knows how to live.
Some of the oddities therein; Bill Paxton constantly playing an accordion, Bill Paxton constantly eating random rancid food stuffs, Bill Paxton having a ménage à trois with three morbidly obese women, Bill Paxton licking the corpse of a dead woman who was discarded in a landfill, James Caan as a quack doctor who makes his patients pay for their bill by having sex with his nurse, a viking woman playing a human xylophone comprised of midgets in sailor suits, a drainage gutter spilling out dead fish, a bloody send-up of the Tom and Jerry Show that predates Itchy and Scratchy, ads for a company called Blumps who make disgusting products like squeezable bacon, cheddar scented cheese, weaselroni, and pork juice. For a movie of it's strange caliber, it's shot very impressively. Boasting comic book style camera angles and odd neon lighting techniques that accentuate the filth and slime that clings to every frame of celluloid in The Dark Backward, creating a sort of devil-may-care despondence and a day-to-day casualness toward the parade of aberrations within the film.
The Dark Backward's deliberate dementia is clear. But, it's overall intent is to pull back the curtain to shed some limelight on the abysmally deep, dank, lint-caked naval of showbiz' bloated underbelly. A lesson that proves even those with wax wings and the best intentions can fail to realize that maybe Hollywood isn't the Sun in the proverbial solar system of artistic success. Watch The Dark Backward. Celebrate the awkward.
Fun Facts about the Dark Backward:
In preparation for the awkward, nebbish and funny-as-a-crutch character of Marty Malt, director Adam Rifkin signed actor Judd Nelson up for open mic nights at local comedy clubs before filming. Judd performed in character and in full costume so that no one would know that it was actually him. And in true troll form, they used the purposely written bad jokes from the script as material.
Advertisements for the fictional company Blumps Industries, can be seen throughout The Dark Backward as well as in most of Adam Rifkin's movies. In fact, Blump's Squeezable Bacon was recently referenced by Charlie Sheen during his media-hyped fifteen minutes of shame. The public just thought that it was another weird Sheen-ism like "Tiger's Blood", and "Winning". But in all actuality, it was a Blump's ad recycled from The Dark Backward and reused in The Chase, in which Sheen starred.
In Adam Rifkin's segment of drive-in era spoof Chillerama entitled "Wadzilla", scenes from the Twinkie Doodle Show, a fictional variety show in The Dark Backward, are shown in the background, on a tv set, and in between newsreels.
Apparently, Adam Rifkin had written the entire screenplay for the The Dark Backward when he was only 19 years old.