DVD Review: Silent But Deadly

STUDIO: Indican | DIRECTOR: Jason Lockhart | CAST: John Tartaglia, David Proval, Dawn Wells, Jacqui Holland, Lee Meriwether, Jerry Douglas, Rip Taylor
DVD RELEASE DATE: 3/11/2014 | PRICE: DVD $24.98
BONUSES: alternate ending, deleted scenes
SPECS: NR | 94 min. | Comedy | 1.33:1 widescreen | stereo

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

 

The 80’s was a uniquely bizarre time, when ideas that would otherwise be considered terrible somehow made sense. There’s no better example of this than with Eighties comedies­ largely a time period of humor so distinctively awful that it’s actually become its own genre, though filmmakers like Harold Ramis and John Landis managed to transform it into a true art of the absurd.

While no one will claim that Jason Lockhart’s Silent But Deadly competes on that level, it’s clearly inspired by Eighties comedies in a big way. Despite its modest budget, Silent But Deadly is full of the kind of (old) fart jokes and ridiculous slapstick our overly ­ironic modern culture can’t even comprehend. Yes, it’s dumb, but it’s a good-­natured dopiness that will yank a smile out of even the most disaffected hipster.

As always with these movies, the plot is forgettable. Someone is murdering old folks at the Lake View Retirement Home, and no one can figure out the mystery… though the murders don’t seem to get in the way of retirement home fun, whether it be sex­ed puppet shows for the Viagra set, woefully pathetic talent shows, or the token large­-breasted dumb blonde gags running throughout the film.

John Tartaglia does a good job holding the ensemble cast together as Dale, the obnoxiously patronizing director who’s suspiciously unconcerned about his expiring residents.

If this were actually an Eighties movie, Silent But Deadly would be indistinguishable from everything else around it, but coming out in 2014, it’s quite an odd beast; the fact that Lockhart manages to be sincerely zany (rather than ironically zany, as most Eighties homages tend to be) is the film’s saving grace. It probably helps here that a number of the actors were in their prime in the Eighties and are able to produce the authentically goofy feel their roles call for (something today’s crop of actors are too self­aware to manage). Half the fun is recognizing beloved TV stars like Dawn Wells (Gilligan’s Island’s Mary Ann), David Proval (Mean Streets, The Sopranos), Lee Meriwether (Batman’s Catwoman), Jerry Douglas (The Young and the Restless) and yes, even the great Rip Taylor with a short opening cameo that lets you know exactly what camp this film is firmly planted on.

DVD extras include a (just as ridiculous) alternate ending (shades of Clue, which has a clear influence on the film overall) and a deleted dentures gag for your comedic pleasure.

 

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About Memo

Memo Salazar attempts many things and accomplishes few. His big three are making films, music, and comics, but he'll throw photography, graphic design and film criticism into the ring for good measure. He'll even make you a hand-painted t-shirt if you ask nicely. You can track his activity here when there's nothing else to do at work.