The Dark Backward
Director: Adam Rifkin

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

The Dark Backward In the delightfully stomach-turning The Dark Backward, released in the UK as The Man with Three Arms (1991), Marty Malt (Judd Nelson) is a loser garbage man striving to be a stand-up comic.

With the goofiest bad jokes, there is no laughter from audiences. Waitress Rosario (Laura Flynn Boyle without the butt fat injections in her lips) likes Marty & irrationally enough believes in him, though eventually she has to dump him.

His fellow garbage collector & best pal Gus (Bill Paxton) always has an accordion with him. He's the only guy who ever thinks Marty's a riot, because he's not actually paying any attention. Gus is the first person to notice Marty has a pimple on his spine. The pimple grows into an arm.

Horny Gus finds a woman's corpse at the city dump & starts licking her body. He's also a fat fetishist, & takes the corpse's earrings to give to his fat girlfriend Nickie (Carry Lynn) so he'll continue to get very, very lucky.

As should be evident by now, this is a strange stylized film populated by repulsiveness people who are by turns depressives, lunatics, evil-tempered, & live in a world where the streets are always covered in garbage.

The Dark BackwardWhen the lump on Monty's spine first became a baby hand, Marty goes into a panic, but Gus is totally amused. He thinks it could lead to Marty's big break, as stand-up comics are a dime a dozen, but how many have an extra arm growing out of their back?

Enter Wayne Newton as Jackie Chrome, the entertainment agent. It's impossible to describe how great Wayne is in this role. He absolutely steals the film & is funnier'n hell.

Jackie's leading act is a Valkyrie (Tom Hodges) billed as "Marjorie Zipp & Her Human Xylaphone," who plays a xylophone made out of dwarfs (Tony Cox & other little people being awfully good sports). He hated Marty before, but he likes the gimmick of the third arm, & thinks Marty should be billed as "Des the Three-armed Wonder-comic." Jackie gets his newest novelty act a television gig on the amateur spot on the Twinkie Doodle Show (with King Moody as Twinkie Doodle).

Rob Lowe puts in an appearance in ugliness make-up, perhaps the only film in which he's disgusting looking. He's Dirk Delta, hideous talent scount for a big late-nite program. Things are really looking up for Marty! But then, as unexpectedly as it appeared, the arm disappears & he's stuck trying to attach a fake one to himself.

This is an ace absurdist comedy, darkly silly, dead-opposite to just about any barely-funny commercial comedy you ever wasted time & money on hoping for a laugh. The Dark Backward takes place in a world not quite our own, in which the Blump company seems to make every existing product, good stuff like Farm Fresh Pork Juice, and Weasel Roni. Watch for the ads throughout. Wayne Newton is an especial hoot, as is James Caan as Doctor Scurvy. Who knew James Caan was such a capable slapstick comic!

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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