1991 maybe-comedy, maybe-horror movie
Plot: Four travelers wind up in nothing but trouble when they are arrested and taken to a decrepit labyrinthine mansion surrounded by a junkyard to meet a judge.
Like me with this blog, I'm not quite sure what Dan Aykroyd and his brother Peter Aykroyd were trying to accomplish with this shambling mess of a movie. And that deepened the depression already fermenting after watching Cheap Thrills.
In a way, I appreciate what Aykroyd was trying to do here. I'm not sure how much money was spent on this, but it seems like quite a bit, and the entire project seems like a huge personal risk, the kind of thing that could really ruin a guy's career. It also seems like a huge risk for a major studio to take, but I assume execs suspected this could be the next Beetlejuice or something. There's no shortage of money in the production, and there's really no shortage of ideas either. The design of the house is inventive and keeps things fun even when the movie's story or characters wouldn't be able to do that on their own. The junkyard imagery, ingenious machines like the "Bonestripper," and a frame absolutely stuffed with details and things to look at really make this movie worth seeing.
I also liked the make-up. Aykroyd himself is unrecognizable, and a pair of wobbling jelly-filled twins have a great pre-CGI look to them. And I'll swear that at one point, Aykroyd's got a penis nose. I noticed it during the fun dinner sequence, and then kept looking for an angle where it would look like a penis again. It didn't, and now I wonder if it was some sort of test to find out how much of a homosexual I am.
How Digital Underground made it into this movie with what is essentially a music video is beyond me. It was 1991, and "The Humpty Dance" was pretty big, so maybe Aykroyd just thought it was a good idea. That scene is just a sore thumb in a movie with more sore thumbs than it's got hands. But this makes a movie with a Tupac Shakur cameo that I've seen that all of my black friends haven't seen, and that makes the whole thing worth it.
I don't really have any black friends, by the way.
The issues with this movie are all in the writing. The performers (John Candy [in two roles], Chevy Chase [as despicable as you'd expect], Demi Moore [who probably could have found something better to do]) give it their all, but they really don't have much to work with. The story ends up being far too wacky for it to work in any mainstream sort of way and not quite surreal or weird enough to fit in with the artsy-fartsy crowd. It really had no chance to be anything but a cult classic, probably disappointing considering how much it cost to make. The story feels a little too derivative, too, especially with all the other weirdness going on.
All in all, this is worth seeing for fans of strange movies or anybody wanting to see a Tupac Shakur movie that other people haven't seen. And for anybody who enjoys watching any of the Baldwin brothers die. Aykroyd's labor of kinky love is something that I wish I would have ended up liking more than I actually did, but I am glad I saw it.