When I was a wee small little boy of a wee small little age, I grew up with two teenage girls in the house; my sister and my cousin. So that meant I got to watch a lot of horror and teen flicks with them. The latest VHS rental of the day was a movie called Truth or Dare?: A Critical Madness but since my parents were in the house, Sis and Cuz had to pretend to be responsible and told me that I couldn't watch it. At one point I sneaked into the den and managed to catch a quick scene where a dude was about to slice his own chest with a combat knife, but I was caught and shooed away.
I forgot about that movie until much later, in my own teen years when I started getting back into the horror and gore flicks hard. I watched or revisited a lot of stuff from that wonderful mom-and-pop era of video, but could never find a copy of Truth or Dare?. It wasn't until fairly recently that I happened to come across the movie once again. I finally watched it last night, and, uh, hmm...the best way I could describe my feelings about it is to just shrug. But before I get further into my thoughts about the movie, I'll just go ahead and tell you the whole movie since you're not going to watch it anyway.
Truth or Dare?: A Critical Madness (really, man -- just pick a fuckin' name and save the subtitles for the sequel) opens with a average looking white dude named Mike arriving home from work in his Trans-Am. Some guys (usually married with kids) tend to wait in their car for a while before getting inside the house. It's too bad Mike didn't do the same, because then maybe he would've been spared the sight of watching his wife gettin' it on with his best friend, Jerry. Through the use of flashbacks, we find out that Mike has been taking crap as far back as childhood. We see him play Truth or Dare with a bunch of kids and they dare him to slice his arm open with a razor blade. He does so (in the hope of winning their approval, I suppose) and when he comes running to mommy with a bleeding arm, she just sighs and tells him he needs to hang out with better friends.
Back to the adult Mike. Finding out about his wife's infidelity sets him off and he takes off in his Trans-Am to who the fuck knows where. Along the way, he picks up a busty hitchhiker and off they go to live a new life or something. Actually, he ends up taking her to a campsite where they set up a fire. The hitchhiker gets Mike to play Truth or Dare, and it starts out rather tame but then takes a turn for the WTF? when she dares him to pull his own eyeball out. Of course, Mike says no. I guess to prove that she's a happy camper, the hitchhiker grabs a corkscrew, pulls her OWN eyeball out and hands it to him.
She then dares Mike to cut his own finger off, and since at this point Mike appears to be unable to control himself or tell the bitch to go fuck herself, he goes ahead and chops that sucker off. But that's not good enough for the lady, because she then makes him slice his chest open with his Rambo knife. Once again, he complies. I guess it would be no surprise to you if I told you at this point that the hitchhiker is just a figment of his imagination and that he's gone completely nuts. By the time a park ranger shows up to cite Mike for setting up a campfire after hours, Mike has managed to rip his own tongue out of his mouth.
Mike is taken to a mental hospital and we then jump forward to 13 months later. Mike has since had his tongue reattached and his speech restored, and the doctors in charge believe he's now fully rehabilitated. Well, maybe not "fully" rehabilitated, but budget cuts have forced them to make room by letting loose some of the lesser nuts from the joint.
Mike picks up his Trans-Am and heads straight for his old place, where his ex-wife is still living at along with her new man, Jerry. Mike doesn't waste time fucking around; he fillets that motherfucker Jerry and makes a move for the ex-wife, but she manages to shank his ass. Now Mike's stumbling out of the house, bleeding profusely and just looking assed-out in general. We get this long take where he falls onto the sidewalk, a couple drives up to him and one of them goes to call the police, we then WAIT for the police to show up until finally an old man in a suit arrives. I first thought the old man was just some nosy dude, but it turns out he's a cop. It's just that this shit is so low-budget we didn't see or hear sirens when he arrived.
We then jump forward 13 days, with Mike fully recovered and back at the mental hospital. He's wheelchaired into a waiting room and left all by himself. We cut back and forth between him alone in the room and a couple of the doctors feeling sorry for themselves for being the kind of dumbasses that let a psycho killer out on the streets.
Mike can't have too much time alone, it seems, because next thing you know, he's hallucinating two other inmates inside the room with him. He ends up playing a game of Truth or Dare with his imaginary playmates, and he plays just as hard as the imaginary hitchhiker. He pulls out a combat knife and dares one of them (an old man) to slice his arm and leg off. Mike then pulls out a fucking GRENADE and dares the silent inmate to put it in his mouth and blow his head off. Both comply, and we now have one inmate bleeding all over the place and another inmate minus a head.
By the time the orderlies come back to the room, Mike has sliced half of his own face off, and it's there that you just have to accept the fact that this murdering loon wasn't searched properly and was able to sneak a big combat knife inside. Mike maniacally laughs as blood runs down his face and we go "Ooohhh, scary", or at least that's the idea. I think it's safe to say most of us are laughing our ass off.
Five months pass. Mike has since gone completely mute and taken to wearing a copper mask he made himself. One of the orderlies, a big former wrestler type, shows the nice black orderly a gift he intends to give to Mike; it's a framed photo of his ex-wife. That's a real dick thing to do, and also an incredibly stupid thing to do, considering Mike is a noted murderer who also practices self-mutilation. Plus, he can lose his job if his bosses' find out, and that's not good. But it doesn't stop the wrestler orderly, and he leaves it in Mike's room.
The nice black orderly talks to a nerdy white orderly, telling him how much Mike gives him the creeps. The white nerd angrily responds to the black dude with "Will you STOP runnin' your MOUTH? That's all you could do is FLAP your lips all night long! Give me a break, why don't you listen to your JIVE-ASS MUSIC!" and rather than grabbing this fuckin' cracker and giving him the business, the nice black orderly calmly takes a Walkman out and puts on the headphones. He then begins to bob his head to what I'm guessing is that "jive-ass music" Honky the Nerd was talking about.
Mike looks over the framed photo of his ex-wife, and that sets him off again. He starts trashing his room and beating up the wall. Honky the Nerd hears this and angrily demands that the nice black orderly go and check it out. Seriously, man -- there's being a strict boss and there's being straight-out disrespectful, and Honky is totally playing the latter. Punk ass motherfucker. You figure maybe the movie is setting us up and Honky will get his, but nope that never happens. Honky never gets his and neither does the wrestler who had the dumbass idea of bringing the photo. But you know who DOES get brutally murderized? The Nice Black Orderly, that's who. Mike sticks a pencil into homeboy's eyeball and I guess that's the filmmaker's way of saying to expect the unexpected and that life is unfair. Either that, or HA HA WE KILLED DA BLACK GUY! WHITEY RULES! TAKE DAT, DARKIE! THE SOUTH WILL RISE AGAIN!
So Mike escapes from the nuthouse, jacks a ride, and begins a killing spree:
-- He runs over a baby carriage with a baby in it, then backs up and runs over the mother. I guess that's his way of sparing her the suffering of living without her child.
-- He gets into a car chase with some angry drunk asshole, ending with the angry drunk asshole's car exploding and the angry drunk asshole running around on fire. Mike then PULLS OUT A FUCKIN' HECKLER & KOCH MP5 (where the fuck did he get THAT?!) and shoots the burning body with it.
-- He pulls up to a bus stop bench and shoots up the innocent people that were waiting there with his submachine gun.
-- He drives up to a little boy and does a drive-by with a CHAINSAW, ending the poor boy's dreams of becoming a baseball player.
There's this cop; a man with a huge gut and what looks to be a real hunch on his back, and he thinks he's found Mike hiding out in a shack. So the cop ends up shooting up the shack and then setting it on fire. This motherfucker must really like his job, because he's cheering and hooting and hollering at the sight of the flaming shack. Oh, I forgot to mention, this cop is wearing a cap on his head and a floral-patterned shirt that's about three sizes too small.
The chief of police or head detective or whatever the fuck he is, shows up at the scene and gives Hunchy shit about burning up the shack. Hunchy doesn't care; as long as this psycho is dead, that's all that matters. Except it turns out that the charred body inside isn't Mike's -- it's the town drunk. Whoops! There's a lot more "comic relief" like this in the entire movie, by the way.
Mike ends up going to his old house again, with the intention of taking care of the ex-wife once and for all. He must really want this chick dead, because along with his trusty chainsaw he also takes a handgun, nunchucks, a grenade, machete and an old-fashioned mace. His neighbor is some dumb old broad who must suffer from cataracts because she's giving him shit the whole time when he gets there, and doesn't seem to notice all the weapons he's got on him. Eventually he shuts that old crow up with a mace to the face. Nice!
He then chainsaws the front door open and steps inside. The shower is on, so Mike figures he can take his ex-wife out Psycho-style. But alas, it was all a ruse -- there's a cop behind that shower curtain, and Mike ends up taking three shots to the chest. (It's here that I noticed that Mike's copper mask kept moving with every breath he took. Must've been that really soft type of copper.) So Mike is down for the count, and all appears to be well. The cop goes to the bedroom closet and tells Mike's ex-wife that it's all over and that she can come out now. Only problem is, she isn't coming out. The cop opens up the closet door, and the little lady's body lifelessly flops down onto the floor. Why, that crafty Mike! He took care of business before taking care of business!
Before the cop has any time to react, Mike shows up with a gun and gives the pig one straight to the dome. Mike then stumbles into the hallway and runs into the main detective or chief of police or whatever the fuck that dude is supposed to be. Rather than finish the murdering psycho off, this cop decides to play Truth or Dare with him. He dares Mike to put the gun down, and sure enough, Mike does it. He's a slave to that fuckin' game, this Mike.
Mike is then taken away in a stretcher and we're left with a shot of his next stop, once he recovers: the mental hospital! The credits roll and we're then treated to an awesome song by a gospel choir that's all about our main character and how life fucked him up AND it plays with audioclips of Mike freaking out in the background! The End.
Truth or Dare?: A Critical Madness is filled with everything that makes for an awesome trash movie; low-budget gore, terrible overacting, cheesy synthesizer music, bad taste, and the occasional titty. There's just one big problem, and it nearly sinks the whole experience -- it's way too protracted and filled with the worst kind of padding. This is a thirty-to-forty minute short film mercilessly stretched out to ninety, making it a chore to get through sometimes. Maybe it's because I saw it by myself, and this flick would probably play a hell of a lot better with someone to chat with during the boring parts. If you don't have company, booze, or both, get comfortable with the fast-forward button on the remote.
But I'll definitely give props to the writer and director of this flick. His name is Tim Ritter and at 18-fuckin-years-old he not only managed to get a movie made, he also got it distributed to video stores, where it later became a cult favorite to many a gorehound and trash movie enthusiast. You know what my biggest accomplishment was at 18? Getting hired and then fired from a convenience store in the same week.
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