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May 23, 2013

Movie Review: Dark Dealer (1995)

I do love a good anthology movie. Granted, this movie isn't really all that good but let's call it good enough.

Dark Dealer came out in 1995 but it has a 1980s vibe that makes it more fun campy than pretentious campy. The movie begins with the end of the wrap around story. Ray is being chased through some office building by a giant plasma globe. He escapes by entering the back room of an office. Instead of what he would expect to be an empty room, three men sit at a round table. Seems Ray has just joined in a game of Black Jack with the souls of two dead men and a demon dealer. Because yeah, why not?

Ray is told he did not survive the encounter with that giant electric ball and by joining the game, if he wins, he could win back his soul and be alive again. But since he just got there, he goes last.
The first man plays and with each deal, we flash back to the events in his life that brought him to the devil's game.

"Cellar Space" is the first man's story. He's a petty thug who's crimes are witnessed by a lone elderly gentleman who lives basically in a cellar. When the thug and his enforcer break into the man's home, to hide from the cops for a recent murder and apparently to eat all the man's food, they discover the old man is not an easy mark and will not be bullied into silence or cooperation. In fact, the thug and his enforcer would have been much safer with the police.

The second story is "Blues in the Night". Sam Burke is a brilliant blues musician but dies before he can become a big star. 30 years later, Phil Barton comes across a taped recording of Sam's music and decides to sell it as his own. Phil is a lawyer for a handful of decent albeit spoiled rock musicians but he wants to write his own music. The talent to do so is non existent so with Sam's genius hidden behind Phil's name, he scores big time. Sam is none too happy with that plan and returns from the grave to exact royalty payments out of Phil's hide.

The last story is the flash-back for the wrap around. Remember how I said the movie started with the end of the wrap around? So here's where we get the rest of it. Ray wants to help his now clean girlfriend get out of debt with the drug dealers she used to run with. Unfortunately she owes a ton of moolah so Cracker, the dealer, comes to kill her because she can't pay up. When Ray intervenes, the dealer finds out Ray's dad owns a pharamceutical company. What better place to steal high grade drugs than there? Cracker forces Ray to break in and get him access to the good stuff. The bad news is that Cracker is an idiot and just pops a few pills, thinking they are a popular street drug. Surprise! They're not. He melts down into a giant pile of dung then somehow morphs into that plasma ball thing. He kills Ray and his girlfriend.
But guess what? Ray wins at Black Jack and is returned to the land of the living, where he defeats the plasma ball with a small bucket of water and saves his girlfriend AND Cracker.

For an anthology movie, which this wasn't supposed to be originally, it's a bit hit or miss. The wrap around story has some good elements, "Cellar Space" was my favorite, and "Blues in the Night" was disappointing.
In "Cellar Space", the old guy is Nicademis, an older-than-I-look alchemist who has some kind of problem with his head. So when the bad guys beat him up, it triggers a metamorphosis into a demon and he eats people he encounters. I scratched my head a bit at this because isn't Nicademis the Pharisee who advocated for Jesus? Not important. I think the best acting occurred in this portion of the movie. That's not saying much but it had my full attention from beginning to end.
"Blues in the Night" was basically about a whiny lawyer, not talented enough to make it as a song writer on his own, stealing someone else's stuff. The acting was terrible, the story trite, and the characters dull and one dimensional.

The wrap around had a little bit of everything: gallantry, drugs, violence, and a deep discussion on love between the girlfriend and Cracker, the drug dealer who was going to  kill her for not paying off her debts. Yeah, I had to back it up and watch that scene a couple times to be sure I heard right. The special effects were a cross between The Evil Dead (the original) and Tron. I'd really like to have known more about the pharmaceutical company that makes drugs that turn people into electricity bubbles.

Like I said, not a great movie but considering the production company that made this is the same that brought us Repligator, it's no wonder why I, at the very least, was entertained.

2 hatchets

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