Actor and occasional director Crispin Hellion Glover’s second feature may not be the strangest movie ever made: That probably would be his first, WHAT IS IT? (1999), which starred men and women with Downs’ syndrome, some in blackface, and featured songs by tunesmith Charles Manson on the soundtrack. But this bizarre thriller about a man with cerebral palsy and a murderous fetish for long-haired women comes fairly close, and is the second installment in Glover’s projected "It" trilogy. So if you like what you've seen so far, you're in luck. There's more to come.
In the hallway of a nursing-home facility, CP sufferer Paul Baker (the late Steven C. Stewart, who also wrote the screenplay), falls from his wheelchair and bangs his head on the floor. What follows may be hallucination, memory or deranged sexual fantasy. At a formal function, Paul introduces himself to middle-aged divorcee Linda Barnes (Fassbinder favorite Margit Carstensen). Charmed but unsure whether she could ever marry someone so handicapped, Linda and her pubescent daughter, Karma (Carrie Szlasa), visit Paul at the care facility. Paul is entranced by young Karma and her long, lovely hair and admits to impure thoughts. Linda asks Paul to check in with Karma and her brother while she's out of town on business — Linda's afraid her unwelcome drunken ex-husband (Glover's real-life father, Bruce Glover) will show up — but after several dates, Linda finally tells Paul she can no longer see him. She does, however, agree to meet him one last time in a remote section of the local park, where Paul strangles her. With Linda's murder, Paul embarks on a perverse killing spree, always taking the time after each kill to brush and fondle his victim's long hair.
Entirely set-bound and featuring dramatic lighting, deep shadows and such archaic effects as rear projection, the film has the look and feel of an old Hollywood movie, particularly one of Fritz Lang's psychosexual lustmord melodramas like SCARLET STREET or HOUSE BY THE RIVER. But there's never been a film quite like this one. One could as easily condemn Glover and codirector David Brothers for exploiting the physically challenged to indulge Glover's own love of bizarre spectacle and curiosa as they could applaud them for enabling someone with cerebral palsy to fulfill a longstanding dream of writing and starring in his own movie. Perhaps it’s possible to do both simultaneously: It's certainly a bold choice not to subtitle Stewart's distorted speech, relying instead on context and reaction shots to communicate the meaning of his dialogue. At select theatrical engagements, Glover himself will introduce the film with a performance of his “Big Slide Show,” an entertainingly impassioned reading from his “books” — esoteric publications from early in the 20th century that Glover has manipulated into something else entirely — that’s passing strange and fun for fans.
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- Released: 2007
- Rating: NR
- Review: Actor and occasional director Crispin Hellion Glover’s second feature may not be the strangest movie ever made: That probably would be his first, WHAT IS IT? (1999), which starred men and women with Downs’ syndrome, some in blackface, and featured songs by… (more)
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