Starring: Christopher Lloyd, Matt Frewer, Missy Crider, and Raphael Sbarge
Director: Mick Garris
Rating: Three of Ten Stars
It's hard to go wrong with an horror anthology movie, and if you're adapting stories by Stephen King and Clive Barker to the screen, you'd think it would be even harder. But no. Screenwriter/director Mick
Garris managed to completely botch the effort with "Quicksilver Highway."
Maybe the idea here was to make an anthology featuring darkly humorous tales, ala the likewise King-based "Creeopshow" anthology films, and they simply failed to be funny. If a desire to make a horror movie that drew upon the absurd, it would explain a lot about the choices of stories, the nature of the framing sequence, and several other quirky aspects of the film. In fact, I am assuming that it's was supposed to be more funny than it is, as it's the only way I can write this review without relegating it "Movies You Should [Die Before You] See."--it's something I would hate to do with a film featuring actors I live, based on stories from writers I like. IF this is a failed horror comedy, the two featured short films ("Chattering Teeth" and "Body Politic") are a little less awful, because one assumes they were intended to be absurd to begin with.
But even so, part of me feels that maybe the Three Star rating I am giving "Quicksilver Highway" is too generous.
The film starts to go wrong with the framing sequence. Having a narrator link the stories via introductory bits is a well-established convention for these movies, but Christoper Lloyd is so off-putting as a weirdo in a rune-engraved leather collar telling stories to total strangers who made the bad decision to visit his establishment that the smart viewers might have taken it as a sign of things to come. This warning would probably be even more evident to those smart viewers when he repeatedly states his stories have no point. I was not among those smart viewers, so I kept watching.
Of the stories, we first have "Chattering Teeth," based on a tale by Stephen King. In it, a man who is saved from a psychotic hitchhiker by a pair of over-sized, wind-up toy teeth. At no point does this short even get tense, let alone scary, and to describe the resolution as anticlimactic might be too generous. It does, however, deliver on the promise of Lloyd's character As lame as this one is, it pales in comparison to the one that follows.
"The Body Politic" is the second tale, and it was adapted from a very bad Clive Barker story about a surgeon whose hands rebel against the rest of his body--and then cause the hands of others to rebel as well. Setting aside the fact that the hands can do nothing without the muscles of the arms--and yet a hospital full of rebellious hands are dragging people around as the story builds to its ludicrous climax--there simply isn't anything scary about the story. It's even too stupid to be funny, although Matt Frewer's over-the-top performance as the doctor at war with his own hands was lots of fun, and it earns the "Quicksilver Highway" an entire Star.
While Frewer's performance was the only really good one in the film, I can't complain about any of the other cast members; they all did excellent jobs with the material they had to work with. I can't even really blame Christopher Lloyd for making me wonder if I really wanted to keep watching, because he was just being Christopher Lloyd doing the best he could with a bad part.
As regular readers know, I love anthology films, so I always hate nt being able to recommend them. In the case of "Qucksilver Highway, the only thing I can be truly positive about is.Frewer's performance--and that's not enough for me to recommend you waste your time on this botched effort.