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Crazy as Hell

2 Ratings: 1.5
A movie

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Director: Eriq La Salle
Genre: Drama, Horror
Release Date: September 27, 2002
MPAA Rating: R
1 review about Crazy as Hell

With schlock like this, who needs holidays?

  • Jul 21, 2011
  • by
Rating:
-1
This movie is about a mental patient who claims to be Satan. In consideration of its premise and title, one can guess just how silly it is...but those who haven't seen it can't imagine the guilty delights to be had in its one hundred and thirteen inane minutes!

It all starts stupidly enough with the contrived, slow-motion mass flailing of a state hospital's motley mental patients, scored by some of the most incomprehensibly bad music that you'll ever hear. Into this embarrassing maelstrom comes a repellent, narcissistic celebrity psychiatrist (Michael Beach), who intends to treat the hospital's loonies with understanding in lieu of pharmaceuticals. He's accompanied by a small group of filmmakers who constantly monitor him with an array of ubiquitous cameras for the purpose of assembling a documentary based on his activities. Why the facility's administrator (Ronny Cox) consents to all of this is unknown, but compared to the absurdities to come, this premise almost seems credible.

Before this braggart is able to make much progress with his stereotypical charges, a patient who claims to be Lucifer (Eriq La Salle, who directed this catastrophe) admits himself to the hospital's care, and this is where the giggles begin. Immediately, the self-proclaimed Lord of Darkness makes his presence known by dancing badly to the awe of his fellow patients, prancing around in silly outfits, exposing his manhood as an inquiry for honest feedback, raising a ruckus during a field trip to a local park and fucking a slutty nurse (Tia Texada), all while irritating his arrogant star therapist to the point of laughably overacted insanity.

Apparently, screenwriters Jeremy Leven and Erik Jendresen (adapting this mess from a novel by Leven) have never set foot in a mental hospital. If they had, they'd have known that most of Satan's attire and accessories - which includes scarves, chains and a cane - would be confiscated upon his commitment, and that orderlies (who are scarcely seen here) would be present to direct and discipline the hospital's oft-rampaging invalids, and to quell the many conflicts between Beelzebub and his keepers well before they escalated to their noisy, ludicrous conclusions. Every patient is based on a stock lunatic archetype, and as such, not one of them is presented with any measure of depth.

Beach is utterly, appropriately charmless in the lead; his lack of screen presence is matched only by his décor-gnawing zeal. John C. McGinley is nearly as hammy as the exploitive, antagonizing director of the documentary crew, but at least he seems to be having fun. However, La Salle dominates every scene in which he appears - he's not at all imposing as he's supposed to be and his performance is a spectacle of blundered cunning - simply because he's pioneering innovative new ways to make an ass of himself. This is only advantageous: dialogue as preposterous as this would be wasted on a good cast, who in turn would be wasted speaking it! Only Cox, Jane Carr and the career-depleted Sinbad manage to salvage any dignity in their relatively understated roles - an impressive feat, considering the script they're saddled with.

What makes this flick truly lovable is that La Salle obviously thinks he's terribly clever. Before the camera, his Mephistophelian character is played with such overwrought allure and outrage that it's impossible to watch him without either smiling or cringing. Behind it, his every shot is distinguished by hackneyed, gimmicky composition. As a result, not one scene is even remotely involving. Horror clichés are utilized with frequent, painful conspicuity: a flickering light, sweltering climate, prophetic crazies and the recurrent company of the departed. Each clue is loudly telegraphed, every plot twist totally predictable. The ending is especially risible: intended to induce surreal perplexity on the order of Buñuel or Lynch, it's merely trite, derivative and easily dissected.

A brief review can only scrape the surface of anything this intrinsically, dedicatedly awful. This is something to see, one of the most entertaining B-movies of the aughts and a fine example of how satisfying a movie can be when it's executed with consummate incompetence. Armchair riffers, go forth to see this, your next great conquest.

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