There’s 110 minutes of my life I’ll never get back. But it was so worth it.
I wrote about “The Deep End”, which the MSG and I saw after he put it on my Netflix queue. Neither of us can figure out why he did such a cruel, cruel thing. (I keep telling him not to smoke crack while Netflixing.) It was a pathetic little movie with a third-grade murder-mystery plot, although beautifully filmed. Also, Goran Visnjic was in it, and he has those big haunted eyes and a nice accent. But even nice cinematography and hunky Croatians could not salvage that picture.
One performance in particular stood out. Stood out because it was so horrifyingly bad, the kind of acting performance that could have been more effective had the actor (a) walked past a building that might once have had an acting class held in it or (b) forgot to show up on the set for the entirety of filming, so that the stand-in would have had to take over, or perhaps a cardboard cut-out. Or a piece of cheese. Anything, really. A crescent wrench in a necktie could have been a more convincing human being.
That performance was by one Raymond Barry. He portrayed a Reno con-man, or rather, he portrayed such a distorted and worrisome caricature of a Reno con-man that neither the MSG nor I could soon forget his appearance, let alone his systematic destruction of any sense of reality the movie was attempting to meander towards.
And so, because I am a vindictive and capricious imp, I decided to remember the name Raymond Barry, then look Raymond up in the IMDb and scour his filmography to see what other “movies” he’s “been in”. Then I put the worst-sounding film from this collection next on my Netflix queue: an apt punishment for the MSG, I thought.
That film was “Headless Body in Topless Bar”. I nearly cried when I read the synopsis, which is as follows, thank you to one Mr. Clint Weiler:
Late one night, in a seedy topless bar, a group of men watch a stripper dance over their malted beverages. But, one of them is an ex-con who’s about to put the group on a collision course with death. Inspired by the events that spawned the New York Post headline, Headless Body in Topless Bar is an intense black comedy about a group of hostages held under the torment of a twisted gunman. The lonely, deranged killer leads the patrons through a bizarre, intriguing, and darkly humorous pop-psychotherapy session that’s part truth or dare, part Russian roulette. As the searing drama develops, issues arise: the politics of gender, the effects of institutionalization, and the deadly dance between predator and prey. Who will survive? Candy the jaded stripper? Lumkin, the Wall Street sexual deviant? Carl, the wheelchair-bound regular? Or Vic and Creamface, the two loudmouth beer-chugging hockey buddies? Anything can happen with this madman in charge.
Two things impressed me about this movie. One: Candy the jaded stripper was not allowed to get dressed for the majority of the film, which means that her naked boobs stole pretty much every scene. But maybe that’s just me … and anyone else who likes boobs. Two: Raymond Barry is truly the most appalling “actor” I have ever seen.
Let’s not mince words: the script was about as thought-provoking and meaningful as lighting one’s farts on fire. And there were farts in this movie, too. Yes, there were farts, conversations about breast implants, truth or dare, nicknames like “Gimp” and “Guido”, massaging a woman’s breasts while she moaned and squirmed AND DISCUSSED HER YOUNG SON, a corporate lawyer demonstrating the use of an enema bag, a terrifying strip tease by a scrawny white boy, lesbian bickering, and much, much more. And I haven’t even mentioned the cinematography! The cinematography was … well, actually it wasn’t. I’m pretty sure there were three cameras total and they were all aimed in the same direction at the same time. Apparently no one had the instruction booklet for the tripods.
But Raymond … o, Raymond. Raymond, your wooden countenance is matched only by your singular vocal interpretation of any line put in front of you. Raymond, if you were a bird, you would be a plastic bird decal that people put on their windows to alert birds Not To Smash Headfirst Here. Raymond, if you were ice cream, you would be special no-fat no-sugar no-ice no-cream ice cream. Raymond, if you were men’s slacks, you would be a pair of puke-green Sansabelts, and if you were a zebra, you’d have spots. Raymond, you are the Member’s Only jacket of Hollywood, the near-beer of the craft of acting, the Cabbage Patch Kid of the human experience.
But hell if I don’t love you for sucking so mightily, and without compunction. You are truly the god of suck, and I savor the travesty to all I hold dear about film that is a Raymond Barry performance. Here’s to you, Raymond, for realizing that it is a coward’s way out to champion mediocrity. Bad never had it so good.