03 May 2010

She's Back

United States – 1989
Director – Tim Kincaid
Avid Home Entertainment, 1992, VHS
Run Time – 1 hour, 29 minutes

Knowing little to nothing about the timeline of Carrie Fisher’s life outside of a basic film chronology makes it difficult to correlate separate events, and thus a bit harsh to make assumptions. However, I think it’s a safe bet that one of her well publicized periods of heavy drug use coincided with this film. The maniacal chatter constantly spouted by Beatrix (Fisher) in She’s Back is either symptomatic of cocaine use or shameless desperation. With all due respect to Mr. Kincaid, I can think of no other reason why a top rung actress with cult status would appear in such a low budget picture. What I’m getting around to is that while this film is largely unnoticed on Fisher’s dossier, for the converse reason it is like a sore-thumb on Kincaid’s. In either case her presence is both toxic and regenerative, it makes what could have been excruciatingly boring into something painfully entertaining.

With all of that firmly in mind you might anticipate some real shit-pitching monkeys-at-the-zoo type of shrieking insanity here, and it comes damn close. Indeed, the constant harping and nagging of a coke-addled hypochondriac housewife would, in normal circumstances drive any person to homicide, but in She’s Back, it fills the vacuum left by the other, less capable members of the cast. The story comes directly from the mind of Buddy Giovinazzo, a man familiar with wailing claustrophobia as writer and director of the heroin steeped, post-‘Nam sensory assault Combat Shock. In the static atmosphere of a Kinkaid film, Giovinazzo’s Jersey-cynicism and Fisher’s narco-chattering actually turn She’s Back into a skincrawling minimalist performance piece. All of this proved critical to my ability to continue watching the film.

In fact, Beatrix’s (Fisher) needling does drive someone to homicide, namely her spineless husband Tom (Robert Joy), with whom she shares a constant exchange of wheedling psychological abuse, and the thugs who invade her home and really do kill her. What there is of a script really resembles a free for all improvised to make use of Fisher’s condition. Actually, this is the perfect way to explicate Bea’s return from beyond the grave to henpeck Tom into revenging her against the thugs. Like a pair of cheap co-dependent pet birds Bea and Tom batter themselves silly against the walls of the films crippling budgetary cage, bickering and pecking each other into a neurotic mess.

With these two caught in a literal death-struggle of symbiotic nagging, there’s no room to develop any other characters, not that anyone was trying. I always got the impression that Kinkaid simply cast his films with the first people to call back about the advertisement. These folks are no exception and they’re just as stunned with the proceedings as I was. With the exception of Tom and Bea’s neighbor, a Korean War veteran who’s been through the shit and isn’t fazed by anything, (and is thoroughly sauced), everyone stands there with a mixture of amazement and discomfort that makes their stilted acting seem more like a healthy fear of the mentally unstable. Considering the similarity of my own reaction it’s hard to blame them. Once again a Tim Kincaid movie is actually made rational and even tenuously brilliant by the selfsame lack of acting and logic that would otherwise be its downfall.

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