Deep in the Valley
Two twenty-something guys
are transported to a magical alternate universe which is populated by the
denizens of a famous line of porn films created by DJ, aka "Diamond Jim." One
of the two young guys is a big fan of the DJ porn films, and is thus able to help
his friend navigate through the pitfalls of life in this this dimension.
The character of DJ is played by Christopher McDonald, who used to have a
career in A-list films, but must be desperate to have taken a role like this.
The film also features cameo appearances from such Oscar candidates as Kim
Kardashian, Scott Caan, and Denise Richards.
I'm not exactly sure how to describe this film. It is, more or less, a porno comedy, albeit without any significant
sex or nudity. In other words, it is the film to see if you really enjoy the
acting, writing and production values of porn films but do not relish having
to watch any of the actual sex and nudity. In fact, there is no nudity at all
from the central female characters, although a few obscure women do provide some
very brief breast exposure, while playing characters superfluous to the film's
main story, such as it is.
A young woman receives an anonymous letter which tells her that she needs
to go to Las Vegas in order to obtain information about the death of her
mother years earlier. Mother was a magician's assistant. The recipient of the
letter heads off to Sin City with two of her college chums. This proves to be
a poor choice of vacations for the two friends, who are soon killed in ways
which suggest theatrical illusions performed by famous magicians. One of
them, for example, is sawed in half.
The chief suspects in all the deaths past and present are two magicians,
one of whom is currently the toast of the Strip, and the other of whom is his
jealous rival, whose own career sank into obscurity years earlier.
The cast includes Billy Zane (the slick magician), Wishmaster (the failed
rival), Armand Assante (a police lieutenant), Richard Tyson (an inept cop),
and Robert Davi (a competent cop). That cast makes the film sound moderately
competent, but it is not. The other performers, including the two central
characters, are incapable of delivering a natural English line. Russian
Alexander Nevsky, as the compassionate young Vegas cop heading the
investigation, reminds us of a young Schwarzenegger, with less acting talent
(yes, it is possible) and without Arnold's saving grace, his sense of humor.
Bai Ling offers her usual strange line readings as Zane's assistant. The
star, Estelle Raskin, delivers her lines in tones that remind me of childhood
times when the slow learners would have to read aloud in second grade.
And the quality of the acting is superior to the quality of the writing.
The plot of the film makes little sense in retrospect - and don't even
consider hanging on to the end so that you can see "whodunit." The ending is
maddeningly inconclusive. I still don't know who killed whom. Maybe that one
chick sawed herself in half.
Catch the deluxe
version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles,
See No Evil, Hear No Evil
Severance film clips.
Raw screen grabs below.
Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor did four films
together, and the quality just kept deteriorating.
Silver Streak (1976)
Stir Crazy (1980)
See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989)
Another You (1991)
The real difference between the first two and
the last two was the physical deterioration of Pryor in the
intervening decade. Pryor was soon to be debilitated completely
from a deadly combination of Multiple Sclerosis and substance
abuse. Pryor was already getting feeble in See No Evil, and had
lost a lot of his brilliant comic energy. Within two years of
making this film Wilder/Pryor flop. After that film, Pryor
disappeared completely from the public eye for five years.
And Kevin Spacey really should have been better
as the baddie. After all, he may be the best bad guy in history.
He played Lex Luthor. He was the serial killer John Doe in Se7en,
the mysterious Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects, and the insane
genius Mel Profitt in "Wiseguy." Great roles all. He brought none
of that sinister edge to this movie. He spoke with a lame British
accent and wasn't even very creepy. His partner in crime in this
film was Joan Severance and it was sort of a big deal at the time
that Spacey and Severance were teamed together here, because they
were just coming off their groundbreaking performances as the
evil, incestuous brother and sister crime bosses on "Wiseguy."
Spacey and Severance had exhibited an offbeat chemistry together
in that series, but they really had nothing going in this film at
all. If Spacey failed to muster much menace, he seemed like Doctor
Doom next to Severance, who seemed almost nice.
See No Evil is not an utter failure like Another
You, but is not very good at all. The film is filled with "schtick"
rather than comedy. The comic timing is poor, every joke is
telegraphed, and the scenes keep going on and on, repeating the
same joke again and again. Gene Wilder was still pretty much his
old self in See No Evil, but he was already old by then, so don't
expect to see him doing any Willy Wonka somersaults. Already old?
Yes, I know the film was made twenty years ago, but for a lot of
reasons, Gene Wilder is probably ten years older than you think.
Don't believe me? Quick, how old is he?
He's nearly 80! (76)
See what I mean?
His five greatest comic roles occurred more than 35 years ago,
and he was already in his forties when he played The Waco Kid in
Blazing Saddles, even though he seemed ten years younger.
- Blazing Saddles
- Everything You
Always Wanted to Know About Sex (1972)
- Willy Wonka & the
Chocolate Factory (1971)
The Producers (1968)
On the plus side, Severance looked about as
beautiful in this film as any woman has ever looked. Her face was
at its peak, her pale blue eyes were electrifying, her body was
just plain spectacular, and she removed her clothing. That part
was easy to watch.