Dark Backward

The Dark Backward

Director: Adam Rifkin

Cast: Adam Rifkin, Judd Nelson, Bill Paxton, Wayne Newton

     
 

Writer/director Adam Rifkin's The Dark Backward is set in a dark, grimy, garbage-strewn urban netherworld, where a company named "Blump's" apparently owns everything. Marty Malt (Judd Nelson of The Breakfast Club) is an unhappy garbageman who moonlights as an atrociously unfunny standup comic. His best friend and fellow trash collector, Gus (Bill Paxton)…  See more details below

Overview

Writer/director Adam Rifkin's The Dark Backward is set in a dark, grimy, garbage-strewn urban netherworld, where a company named "Blump's" apparently owns everything. Marty Malt (Judd Nelson of The Breakfast Club) is an unhappy garbageman who moonlights as an atrociously unfunny standup comic. His best friend and fellow trash collector, Gus (Bill Paxton), is the only one who laughs at his jokes, and his sincerity is questionable. The obnoxiously exuberant Gus plays an accordion, which he always carries with him. Marty is seeing Rosarita (Lara Flynn Boyle), a waitress, but she doesn't seem too interested in him, either. One day, Gus convinces a talent agent, Jackie Chrome (Las Vegas circuit staple Wayne Newton), to check out Marty's act. Jackie isn't impressed. Marty's luck seems to take a turn for the worse when a large lump starts growing on his back. He goes to a quack doctor (James Caan), who calls him a wimp and puts a Band-Aid on the lump. The lump continues to grow, eventually becoming a full-sized arm. While Gus uses Marty's newfound freakishness to impress his obese girlfriends, a horrified Rosarita breaks up with Marty, and he gets fired from the club where he does his act. Marty is despondent until Gus brings him to see Jackie, who, it turns out, has always dreamed of finding a real three-armed comic. Re-christened "Desi the Three-Armed Wonder Comic," and with Gus now providing musical accompaniment, Marty gets a fresh start on his career. The Dark Backward received devastating reviews upon its initial release, but has since developed a minor cult following. The film also stars Rob Lowe and King Moody, who was the original Ronald McDonald.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Josh Ralske
The Dark Backward may be most aggressively unpleasant commercial feature ever made. It clearly represents some kind of horrific apotheosis of the "bad-is-good" aesthetic. Judd Nelson, covered in a sheen of sweat, his hair slicked down with grease, plays the lead role as Marty Malt, a weak-willed, woefully inept standup comic who unexplainably grows a third arm. But it's Bill Paxton's egregiously over-the-top performance as Marty's unremittingly vile trash collection co-worker, Gus, that sets the tone for the film. Early on, Gus is shown gleefully molesting a nude corpse at the town dump, and things don't get much more pleasant from there. Paxton is normally a reliable actor, and it can be assumed that his incessant mugging and maniacal laughter in this film is exactly what writer/director Adam Rifkin was looking for. Some teachers scrape the blackboard inadvertently, with a new piece of chalk, say, but Rifkin is more like the kid who does it intentionally, just to see the other kids react. It says a lot that Rob Lowe turns in the film's deftest comedic performance, although Wayne Newton, as Marty's desperate agent, is appropriately oily, and King Moody makes an impression as a children's television host. The film's production design is rather unique, for its propensity to induce compulsive showering if nothing else. The film does suggest some kind of dark vision, but Rifkin doesn't develop his characters or his themes enough to maintain interest. Still, he deserves some credit for not compromising his hellish view -- for making no concession to audience desires, common sense, or good taste.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/21/2007
UPC:
0043396093874
Original Release:
1991
Rating:
R
Source:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:
1
Time:
1:44:00

Special Features

Cast and crew commentary; Deleted scenes; 15th anniversary Q&A featuring Bill Paxton, Judd Nelson, Adam Rifkin and Brad Wyman; Blump's squeezable documentary; "Catch My Dreams" clip compilation; Cannes promo shorts ; and more!

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Judd Nelson Marty Malt
Bill Paxton Gus
Wayne Newton Jackie Chrome
Lara Flynn Boyle Rosarita
Robert A.A. Lowe Dirk Delta
King Moody Twinkee Doodle
Lydell M. Cheshier Dexter
Theodocia Goodrich Mrs. Bielfuss
John Patrick Hayden Human Xylophone
Tom Hodges Marjorie Zipp
Milicia Kastner Dirk's Babe
James Caan Dr. Scurvy
Claudia Christian Kitty
Danny Dayton Syd
Carrie Lynn Nicolette
Anna Berger Mrs. Malt
Laurianne Jameson Shirley
Debra Perkins Pickles
Charles Knapp Sloppy
Clifford Streit Raoul
Richard Morrison Elvis
Charles Winkler Dirk Delta's Assistant
Landon Godfrey Unfamiliar Waitress
Gary Vonderlinden Joey
Robert Gannaway Denny Ginkle
Marc Decker Barber,Conductor
Scott Goldman Mouseman
Adam Rifkin Rufus Bing
Ingrid Rifkin Cigarette Girl
Elizabeth Sokol Lady Wrapped in Gauze
Steve Bing Basketball Player
Tony Markes Muscle Man
Jason Logan Man Behind Counter
Libby White-Cooper Dirk's Babe
Tony Cox Human Xylophone
Tanya Banks Human Xylophone
Cindy Sorenson Human Xylophone
Arturo Gil Human Xylophone

Technical Credits
Adam Rifkin Director,Screenwriter
Alterian Studios Makeup Special Effects
Lucy Anne Buffett Associate Producer
Marc Decker Score Composer
Ronald J. Diamond Co-producer,Production Designer
Cassian Elwes Producer
Joey Forsyte Cinematographer
Tony Gardner Makeup Special Effects
Wendy Guidery Art Director
Lisa Lange Associate Producer
Tony Markes Casting
Peter Schink Editor
William Talmadge Executive Producer
Randolf L. Turrow Executive Producer
Sherman Williams Production Designer
Brad Wyman Producer

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Dark Backward
1. Start [2:03]
2. The Next Big Deal [7:20]
3. Collecting Trash [12:07]
4. "An Odd Little Lump" [3:41]
5. No Contract, No Agent [6:36]
6. An Extra Hand [13:13]
7. Total Rejection [4:07]
8. Golden Key Of Opportunity [9:21]
9. Something's Missing [9:57]
10. TV Success [13:05]
11. "We're Nervous" [12:26]
12. Left Behind [9:34]

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