The Dark Half: Stephen King and George A. Romero Go Psychobilly

05/14/2010 12:04 PM |

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This weekend, BAM brings you Romero!, a weekend of lesser-known films by George A. Romero, with the man himself on hand for a preview screening of his Survival of the Dead. His 1993 film The Dark Half plays tomorrow afternoon.

Never mentioned amid Stephen King adaptation stand-outs, Romero’s dirty farce has a bust-out creepy intro: a kid in 1968 gets brain surgery to stop tumors, and the doctors find nestled in the boy’s brain the living fragments of an ingrown twin—including a rolling eyeball and a few teeth, one with a cavity. Holy guacamole, where’s Frank Henenlotter when you need him? Truth be told, the visceral willies never quite return in such spades, but King’s double-trouble scenario is never less than a cheapjack blast, especially if you consider it as the idiot cousin of Bertolucci’s Partner and Kurosawa’s Doppelganger.

Timothy Hutton is the popular author (natch) who tries to suppress a nom de plume only to have it, or him (Hutton again), appear in reality and in high dudgeon, killing everybody in sight and leaving the writer’s fingerprints in the blood. The cheese gets cheesier once the logline gets running and Hutton unleashes his inner badass—a black-booted, bourbon-swillin’ rockabilly psycho with face-broadening make-up that makes him the spitting image of Don Murray. Wielding a straight razor, Mississippi accent and a mean duck’s ass, Hutton has a fab time, but the whole cast seems on the verge of uncontrollable giggles throughout, what with the recurring chorus of “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” and the hilarious explanations provided for the fictional maniac’s manifestation and the accompanying swarm of paranormal sparrows. So aware of its own hackneyed nature that it dares to characterize its undead id-monster as the angry ghost of Elvis, Romero’s movie is as American as a shitkicking, and just about as tasty.