Pin It
Favorite

DVD Review 

by BOB GRIMM & r & & r & The Dark Backward & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & B & lt;/span & ack in the day, I had a VHS copy of this strange movie. I would show it to friends who appreciated stuff that was "out there," and even they would give it a mixed reaction. Now, 16 years after its original release, The Dark Backward is finally getting some digital love.





Judd Nelson plays Marty Malt, the world's worst -- and sweatiest -- standup comedian. His act bombs on a nightly basis, but best buddy and fellow garbage man Gus (Bill Paxton, in total overacting overdrive) has undying faith in him-- mostly so he can ride Marty's coattails as musical accompaniment. (Gus plays a mean accordion.) Near the start of his career, Paxton was great at playing oddballs. I loved him in Aliens and Weird Science, and I like his work here. He seems proud of it, as he gleefully participates gleefully in the special features.





Things get really weird when Marty develops a strange bump on his back. A sleazy doctor (James Caan, in one of the film's many cameos) tells him it might be a tumor and not to pick at it. Then the tumor turns into a baby hand and eventually becomes a full-grown third arm. Gus decides to capitalize on his friend's newfound limb and gets famous talent scout Jackie Chrome (a fully committed Wayne Newton) to sign him as a client. Now that Marty is a freak, the act is destined for the big time.





The film, shot for less than a million bucks, is put together well by director Adam Rifkin (who just wrote Underdog). It looks like it cost a lot more. He's created his own little universe in which the streets are strewn with litter. The Dark Backward isn't for the squeamish. It contains a sex scene that pairs three overweight women with Paxton (who now has three wives on Big Love). Somehow, the movie survived with an R rating intact. The general vibe is sort of David Lynch meets John Waters.





I'm going to go out on a limb and call this the best Judd Nelson performance ever, even better than in The Breakfast Club. Marty Malt represented a complete U-turn for his career -- a career that never quite took off after his involvement in this critical and box-office disaster.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • From Doctor to Drug Dealer
  • From Doctor to Drug Dealer

    Rafael Beier was living two lives. One of them consumed the other
    • Aug 18, 2016
  • 'Seek and Destroy'
  • 'Seek and Destroy'

    In his final days as state superintendent of public instruction, Randy Dorn keeps shouting on behalf of schools. Has anyone listened?
    • Aug 18, 2016
  • All Aboard!
  • All Aboard!

    Stuckart reverses course on fining coal and oil trains; plus, which students will a proposed CdA magnet school attract?
    • Aug 18, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Free State Parks Day

Free State Parks Day @ Riverside State Park

Thu., Aug. 25

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • 'Unreasonable Threat to Life and Property'

    Spokane's rental housing has problems, but landlord and tenant groups are split on a solution
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • 'End of Story'

    Condon administration aims to close the controversial Frank Straub chapter — but last week's scathing report has irrevocably changed the narrative
    • Aug 4, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Manufacturing Fear
  • Manufacturing Fear

    Spokane's Republican sheriff says members of his own party are dangerously dividing people
    • Aug 12, 2015
  • 'Not Past Tense'
  • 'Not Past Tense'

    Washington school districts are preparing for new requirements to teach tribal history and culture, and they're being asked to rebuild bridges that have been burned
    • Mar 17, 2016

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation