Dark Backward [1991]

Further riffing on the trashy settings made popular by Repo Man and Street Trash in cult cinema, The Dark Backward stars two garbage men whose attempts at celebrity land them in even more pathetic territory. Director Adam Rifkin's (Detroit Rock City) first film, The Dark Backward, makes revolting comedy out of its carnivalesque plot, in which Marty Malt (Judd Nelson), a garbage man turned second-rate comedian grows an arm out of his back, thereby guaranteeing him a space in show business for freak show inflected stand-up comedy appearances. Cohort, Gus (Bill Paxton), meanwhile, secures him a Vegas-style talent agent, Jackie Chrome (Wayne Newton), who eventually rounds up real attention from bigwig Hollywood man, Dirk Delta (Rob Lowe). The fabulously raunchy, John Waters-inspired characters are what rescue this film from utter stupidity. Marty is the consummate spectacle-sporting nerd, as is Dirk Delta, who wears buckteeth to up the sleaze factor, offering a rare glimpse of two Brat Pack studs degraded to abnormal levels. Gus, the accordion-wielding confidant, masters several key scenes in which he licks a corpse at the local dump and eats rotten chicken. Occasionally, Marty's fling, Rosalita (Lara Flynn Boyle), provides visual respite for this otherwise stupendously dirty film. Comedy of this variety is scarce, making this DVD a treasure to those who find abjection hilarious. Additionally, The Dark Backward special edition disc contains "Blump's Squeezable Documentary," starring Rifkin and cast reminiscing about the making of this unusual gem. — Trinie Dalton

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