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The Dark Backward (1991)

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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 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 »

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

Gus: I will laugh SO hard, my stomach will burst open and spray bile all over the stage!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Welcome to Hollywood (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Fascinating, Disturbing Ultra Black Tale
8 April 2003 | by SpamletSee all my reviews

You have got to say one thing about this film whether you like it or don't. It's completely original.

There's never been anything quite like it on-screen. In form, it's a Fairy Tale of the very Grimm variety. In tone, it's closest to the absurdist theatre works of Beckett, Pirandello and Ionesco. There's also a whole lot of allegory and symbolism going on here. Though everything is told simply there's a tremendous amount of depth to ponder in the issues the film raises and in the way the characters deal with living in this metaphor for Hell. Understanding the universe they are inhabiting is the key to appreciating this film.

The "Dark Backward" explores a world that is overwhelmed with scum and filth. One of the characters, Gus, is so dirty he looks like a live action version of "Pigpen".

As this character Bill Paxton gives one of the bravest, most fascinating performances I've ever seen. He walks a tightwire of contradictions playing a character who is at once both innocence and evil incarnate.

He's loud, lustful and obnoxious. He's quiet, virginal and caring. At one moment, he's as stupid as a post; in the next, he's cunningly manipulitive and deceitful. To oversimplify-it's like being asked to play Forrest Gump AND Iago in the same character. Miraculously, Paxton not only pulls it off but makes it appear as though all these opposing traits could easily belong to a single creature.

The rest of the cast is magnificent in the way they embrace the excesses of their respective characters. As mentioned earlier, this is an absurdist story and these actors realize the importance of exaggeration to make the genre work. This is also why those who have dismissed Paxton's work as over-the-top should not be heeded. This is a film that shows a world where there is no top to be gone over. There is nothing which can be considered too much.


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