I already write for 2 blogs; one daily in October, one weekly (year-’round) with fellow Cinephilliac, Jaffacake75. I’ve been invited to join the ranks of this blog, therefore, based on the 80 or so horror reviews I put out every year.
With this in mind, I’ve decided to make my first review for Cinephiliacs… a 1991 buddy movie, staring Crispin Glover, Howard Hesseman, and Karen Black.
Although written and directed by Trent Harris, it’s clear that Glover had some creative input into at least his own character; Rubin Farr had already appeared in a bizarre 1987 Letterman interview, and again in the video and lyrics of “Clowny Clown Clown” (the lead single from Glovers 1989 album “The Big Problem ≠ The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be”).
It’s fair to say that Glover has never been one to shy away from quirky characters, and Rubin Farr seems to be the pinnacle of that; an oddly dressed loner, who spends his days in his room at his mothers motel, dancing to classical music and squeaking a rubber mouse, pining for his dead cat, Simon.
Our story (such as it is; buddy movies, even remarkably strange buddy movies, tend not to be overly plot-driven) begins when Rubin’s mother confiscates his stereo, and refuses to give it back until he makes a friend he can bring home to dinner.
Deciding that faking it would be quicker than actual friendship, Rubin soon runs into failed pyramid scheme salesman, Ed Tuttle (Hesseman), and agrees to go to his seminar, provided Ed can pick him up at the motel at dinner time.
On arrival, Rubin’s mother isn’t home, and so he sets too stalling Ed until she returns to see him with a ‘friend’; in the midst of all this, Ed happens upon Rubin’s dead cat, who Rubin is keeping in the freezer until he can find the perfect place to bury him, after a brief discussion in which the desert is mentioned as the ideal place to bury a cat, Rubin half coerces, half kidnaps Ed, and they head out with an ice-box to find a spot to serve as Simon’s resting place.
The car breaks down, and the bulk of the movie see’s our duo wandering the desert, bickering, and looking for the perfect spot to lay a frozen cat to rest.
It’s much more surreal than it sounds, and it ought to be a complete disaster – especially considering that neither of the main characters are particularly likeable.
Performances are solid, particularly Karen Black’s brief scenes as Ed’s ex-wife, and Glover, of course, plays the weirdo to perfection.
I’ve a feeling this film will be incredibly divisory; with your tolerance for surrealism (although it does have a cohesive plot) being the deciding factor. Of course, the whole thing hinges on people behaving in a way people would never behave (particularly Ed, as the straight-man of the duo; Rubin is strange enough that you can willingly accept almost anything he does) but that’s par-the-course for comedies at the best of times.
It’s a shame that this movie was such a flop; I’d love to have seen what else Harris could have done if allowed to play in the studio system (he does have other independant movies to his name; mostly Mormon baiting pieces).
If you have a penchant for the strange, I’d check this one out; but that might not be too easy as it hasn’t found a distributor on DVD. That said, you can buy it on shiny disc directly from the writer / director, cheaper than you can get an old VHS copy on amazon and, given it’s obscurity, you may be able to get a chunk of that back of ebay if you decide to treat it as a rental.
My cat can eat a whole Watermelon.