The Dark Backward

Watch The Dark Backward

"It's the world inside out."
  • R
  • 1991
  • 1 hr 41 min
  • 5.7  (4,029)
  • 48

The Dark Backward is a 1991 American surrealistic black comedy film directed by Adam Rifkin. The film is set in a dystopian and decaying society where economic instability has led to the rise of a new form of entertainment: stand-up comedy. Judd Nelson plays Marty Malt, a failed and depressed stand-up comedian who works as a garbage man by day and attempts to perform his routine at a local club by night.

Despite his lack of talent and constant rejection, Marty is determined to become successful and famous. His career prospects suddenly change when he starts growing a third arm out of his back. This grotesque and disfiguring mutation attracts the attention of sleazy talent agent Jackie Chrome (played by Bill Paxton). Jackie sees potential in Marty’s mutation, and convinces him to incorporate it into his act.

As a result of the arm’s growth, Marty’s comedy routine becomes a hit with audiences overnight. His newfound success leads him to experiencing a series of bizarre and surreal adventures as he meets eccentric characters such as Doctor Scurvy (played by Wayne Newton), a mad scientist who offers to remove the arm, and Rosarita (played by Lara Flynn Boyle), a beautiful but twisted love interest who has a fetish for deformed body parts.

The Dark Backward is a thought-provoking and unconventional film that explores themes of identity, fame, and the nature of humor. It is a blend of dark humor, surrealism, and satire as it presents a critique of the entertainment industry and the pressures of success. The film's tone is bleak and absurd, which is reflected in its gloomy, industrial setting and its vividly grotesque imagery.

Judd Nelson delivers a standout performance as Marty Malt, portraying him with just the right mix of desperation, insecurity, and manic energy. Bill Paxton is equally compelling as the sleazy agent Jackie Chrome, who is willing to exploit anyone, including his own girlfriend (played by RoboCop's Nancy Allen), for his own gain. Wayne Newton turns in a memorable supporting turn as the diabolical Doctor Scurvy, who provides one of the film’s most disturbing scenes.

The Dark Backward has gained a cult following since its release, appreciated for its daring and unconventional approach to filmmaking. It was not a commercial success and received mixed reviews from critics, who found it too disturbing, unpleasant and even nihilistic. However, the film's dark humor and imaginative storytelling have won over the years, which has resulted in a growing cult following.

Overall, The Dark Backward is a quirky, dark, and surrealistic film that challenges audiences' perceptions of humor and the entertainment industry. It's a must-watch for fans of offbeat cinema who appreciate films that push boundaries and don't conform to standard formulas.

The Dark Backward is a 1991 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 41 minutes. It has received mostly poor reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 5.7 and a MetaScore of 48.

The Dark Backward
Where to Watch The Dark Backward
The Dark Backward is available to watch free on Tubi TV. It's also available to stream, download on demand at . Some platforms allow you to rent The Dark Backward for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 41 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    5.7  (4,029)
  • Metascore