Movie: "The Dark Backward"
Year: 1991
Rated: R
Genre: Cult / B-Movie
Directed by: Adam Rifkin
Writing credits: Adam Rifkin

Reviewer: Max Burbank
Posted: 5/20/2008

Plot: Marty malt is a garbage man who wants to be a stand up comedian. Unfortunately, his act is terrible and the audience hates him. Then he grows a third arm out of his back. Now the audience loves him. When it eventually withers and falls off, the audience hates him again.

Review: A lot of people don’t like this film, and screw them. I absolutely love it and for the life of me I cannot understand why it hasn’t become a cult classic. Adam Rifkin wrote the screenplay when he was 19 years old and somehow got it made into a movie with Judd Nelson, Bill Paxton, Rob Lowe, James friggin’ Caan and Wayne friggin’ Newton. That is such a weird accomplishment that all by itself it’s praiseworthy and an indication of either Jedi mind powers or a deal with Satan. Don’t worry yourself about the plot, which is minimal at best. This movie is all about atmosphere. It’s sort of like if an early John Waters film violated an early David Lynch film and the Lynch films parents sent it away to a really mean Catholic orphanage for unwed teenage films, and when the baby came out it was ‘The Dark Backward’.

It’s also notable in that it is the only thing Judd Nelson ever did that was any good other than his performance in “The Breakfast Club”, which was really not so good. That being said, Nelson’s Marty Malt is magnificent. If you’ve ever been to an open mic night at a bad comedy club and at around two in the morning seen a guy get up who really, really, really wants to be a comedian and has no comedic skills whatsoever and you’ve sucked in the intense misery that creates, shove the experience under a microscope and that’s Marty Malt. I pretty much hate Judd Nelson, but his sweaty agonized stand up torment is absolutely Oscar worthy, and it should be a special Oscar for great performances that take place in the midst of a truly shitty career.

Wayne Newton, already a sideshow attraction in real life gives a bizarre performance that looks like it’s been tasered, and I promise you will never again be able to watch Bill Paxton do... anything at all and remain comfortable. Rob Lowe turns in an interesting cameo sporting some truly large false teeth, and Lara Flynn Boyle, hot off Twin Peaks, did what was a nice turn as a high strung anorexic freak until it later turned out she was not acting. If all of that does not recommend this movie to you, how can you miss a film that features the marketing of a product called ‘Liquid Bacon’? This widely panned movie was unavailable for quite some time, but has been released as a special edition DVD, featuring a documentary about the making of the film. I CAN’T WAIT!

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWhole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

May 20th, 2008, 06:35 AM
Is it just me or does that guy on the picture look a bit like Harry Potter?
May 20th, 2008, 11:24 AM
Sounds great! I've added this one to the old Netflix queue.
Forum Virgin
May 20th, 2008, 04:52 PM
I think it looks like Rick Moranis.
May 20th, 2008, 06:27 PM
I just knew you'd be the one reviewing this film. I remember catching it late one night on cable. Absolutely loved it.
after enough bourbon ...
May 20th, 2008, 08:42 PM
I'm with Pentagarn - I thought the Movie review would be for Harry Potter and Voldemort's Dark Brothel ...

Max, I also concur with you that Judd Nelson pretty much dropped off the face of the Earth after "Breakfast Club". I'm embarrassed to say I missed this flick, but I'll be looking for it at the local video store, if only to see that third arm wither.
Crazed Techno-Biologist
May 20th, 2008, 09:37 PM
pentegarn,yes. i almost thought it was =/
Space Cowboy
May 21st, 2008, 02:45 PM
I seem to recall having seen a movie on very late night TV where a guy starts growing extra body parts out of his back, but I'm not sure if it was this one, or the one you reviewed a while back. I'll just have to find both of them and watch 'em.
Built in the 80s
May 22nd, 2008, 04:57 AM
Never heard of it. I thought it was Rick Moranis on the cover too.
Fookin' up planets!
May 22nd, 2008, 01:00 PM
I "Love" this movie. I bought it several years ago on VHS for like... 99cents. It was so friggin' weird. I have a huge Lynch/Eraserhead obsession and this movie slips right in with that kind of crazy stuff. All I got to say is... Bill Paxton groping dead naked lady at the dump. nuff said.
May 22nd, 2008, 06:23 PM
This movie looks right up my alley, Im throwing it in the queue.

And just for a small point, I thought Judd Nelson was good in Airheads and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. His "Let's Go Back to the Station House..." montage on the special features gave me a lot of respect for the man.
May 28th, 2008, 04:34 PM
Liquid Bacon!? D: