Thursday, July 29, 2010

All They Wanted Was A Quiet Getaway....

Things are falling into place for tomorrow's dinner party, though I feel really lame having a party where there are only gonna be 5 guests including myself.  Oh well, it will be fun and will give everyone a chance to meet and greet.  At least, that's what I'm telling myself.  Anyway, I hope the buffet goes well and that everyone finds a game they like.  For now, lets talk about a really terrible movie.  I mean, this movie is bad...and I know bad.  I still like it of course, but mainly for its concept, set pieces, and cast.  Due to studio tampering and a certain lack of cohesive direction, the film turns out much less amusing than it should have been.  Still, its something that several people have seen at least once thanks to endless runs on television (lousy movies cost less to run on TV) and it has developed a sizable cult following due to its off-the-wall nature.  So lets take a weekend trip to Valkenvania and explore the cinematic oddness that is Nothing but Trouble.

Chris Thorne (Chevy Chase) is a New York City financeer who manages other people's money for a living, and does pretty well doing it.  One night, while hosting a party for clients and friends he meets Diane Lightson (Demi Moore), a beautiful attorney.  Together, along with his eurotrash neighbors Fausto and Renalda Squiriniszu (Taylor Negron and Bertila Damas), they head off to Atlantic City to spend the weekend, mostly so Diane can yell at a co-worker and ex-lover.  On the way they decide to depart from the main road and they end up in a small village called Valkenvania, a run down mining town with huge steam vents in the road and virtually no population.  They are soon pulled over for speeding by Officer Dennis (John Candy) and his partner Miss Purdah (Valri Bromfield) and taken to the local courthouse.  The house is a huge, gothic monstrosity, surrounded by a junkyard of old cars and appliances, and is run by the crazed and evil Judge Alvin 'J.P' Valkenheiser (Dan Aykroid).  They are all convicted of their crime at trial and forced to stay the night in the house, which turns out to be like a murderous carnival funhouse.  As the night wanes on, Chris and Diane must fight for their lives against the sinister residents of the house, including Eldona (also John Candy) the Judge's mute and psychotic daughter.

Hmm...what to make of this movie.  It was written and directed by Aykroid, based on an actual experience that he had in a small town where he was pulled over for a small offense and dragged before the town's 100 year old justice of the peace, and that part definitely rings true.  In that way, it is like a comedy version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with the deranged residents of a town trapping and preying on the unsuspecting travelers that pass through.  However, with the house's mechanical contraptions and the lack of edge to the murders committed by the Valkenvania always feels like this is a horror film that is pulling its punches rather than a comedy with horrific elements.  That puts some people off, and its even more off-putting to those who know that due to unsuccessful test screenings the studio removed all the gore and several other scenes from the film.  Another reason that people didn't take to the film is simply that all these celebrities that people took families to see in tamer comedies were now headlining a rather unpleasant film.  Truely, even I get uncomfortable in several scenes by several things...mostly involving the scenes with Dan Aykroid's character.  I mean, his prosthetic nose was intentionally made to look like a penis.  Also, John Candy in drag is a little strange too...partly because its amazing how much he looks like a woman when he's all dolled up.  Oh and there's a strange and unmotivated hip hop musical number in the middle of the film that really makes no sense at all.  Its a very strange and inaccessible package all around and so, like Howard the Duck, most people simply will not enjoy it.  However, there are plenty of good bits to enjoy...and like all good horror films, it makes you think twice about getting off the main road.  Give it a spin, the worst that will happen is that you'll waste an hour and a half of your life.  People do that daily on Facebook.

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