5.8/10
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The Dark Backward (1991)

R | | Comedy | 9 March 1991 (USA)
Trailer
2:26 | Trailer
A man pursues stand-up comedy encouraged by his fellow garbage man. Though his friend, who accompanies him on accordion, continues to tell him how great he is, he actually stinks. When the ... See full summary »

Director:

Adam Rifkin

Writer:

Adam Rifkin
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Judd Nelson ... Marty Malt
Bill Paxton ... Gus
Wayne Newton ... Jackie Chrome
Lara Flynn Boyle ... Rosarita
James Caan ... Doctor Scurvy
Rob Lowe ... Dirk Delta
King Moody King Moody ... Twinkee Doodle
Claudia Christian ... Kitty
Danny Dayton ... Syd
Carrie Lynn Carrie Lynn ... Nicolette
Anna Berger ... Mrs. Malt
Lydell M. Cheshier Lydell M. Cheshier ... Dexter
Tom Hodges ... Marjorie Zipp
Theodocia Goodrich Theodocia Goodrich ... Mrs. Bielfuss
Laurianne Jameson Laurianne Jameson ... Shirley
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Storyline

A man pursues stand-up comedy encouraged by his fellow garbage man. Though his friend, who accompanies him on accordion, continues to tell him how great he is, he actually stinks. When the "comedian" grows a third arm out of his back, the friend uses this twist to get him signed up with a sleazy talent agent, and it begins to look like his career is on the move, even though his girlfriend has left him. Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It's the world inside out.

Genres:

Comedy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for brief scenes of bizarre, comic sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 March 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ciemna strona See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,917, 28 July 1991

Gross USA:

$28,654

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$28,654
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Backward Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Adam Rifkin wrote the screenplay when he was nineteen-years-old. See more »

Quotes

Rosarita: It's all over between the two of us. I can't love a man with three hands.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Chillerama (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

 
This movie is beautiful
21 April 2006 | by tbyrne4See all my reviews

I really love "The Dark Backward". Does that make me some kind of weirdo? Perhaps, but I don't think so. Frankly, I consider people who watch "American Idol" weirdos, so there you go.

Anyone reading this review probably knows the basic storyline. Mary Malt (Judd Nelson) is a garbage man who moonlights as a (really awful) stand-up comic. Audiences hate his act but his disgusting best friend and fellow garbage man Gus (Bill Paxton) keeps assuring him he's great and that the crowds love him. One day an arm starts growing out of Marty's back and Gus, who plays the accordian during Marty's act, convinces him to work it into their routine. They get a talent agent (sleazy Wayne Newton) and a succession of bookings follow. The whole things plays out as a coal-black parable about the foibles of decency in an oportunistic world.

The plot is simplistic, really. What this film is is texture, texture, texture. And that texture is filth, evil, and scum.

There is more scum and evil in this film than in ten David Lynch films. Marty and Gus live in a parallel universe (by way of Newark, New Jersey) comprised of vast amounts of garbage and shrugging indifference. Three-quarters of the characters in this film spend their time on screen asleep. The remaining two-thirds are hysterical, conniving, moronic, or flat-out sinister (with the exception of a child-comprised studio audience we see briefly).

Marty spends the film bent over as though his spine were warped and with his face drenched in sweat. Gus is so dirty he practically blends into the garabage he and Marty dig through at the dump. When Gus opens Marty's refrigerator he can only find some green and toxic chicken that looks left over from Mesolithic era (he eats it anyway).

When Marty and Gus get their big break is when the film really broke the mold for me. Marty has a three-armed suit made and during their act (after each joke) he does a slow turn so the audience can see his extra appendage and it's really amazing. It's looks totally surreal!!! It's beautiful!!

I can't totally explain why I love this film so much, except to say that I find it beautiful when someone puts so much work into making something so absolutely pure.

In many ways the world that we live in is beautiful. There are things that are special and fragile and new. However, this world is also filled with great deal of hatred and rage. We have made this world a very toxic place (and I mean that in the literal sense) Life can be (and is, for some) hell. It would be incorrect to assume expression only need represent the happy skippy joys of life.

Personally, I think this is one of the best representations of a "hell on earth" ever on film.


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