Visual White Noise Theater: Your “Nothing But Trouble” (1991)

So taking the usual horror plot of city slickers getting lost in the sticks and being captured and tormented by inbred, mutant, red necks a la “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, “The Hills Have Eyes”, “Deliverance etc. Writer/director Dan Aykroyd turns the usual horror plot on its head throwing in a huge dash of cartoonish absurdity, dark humor and incomprehensible insanity. This movie stink bombed theaters back in the day but you know me, I don’t give a shit what audiences thought or think about a piece of white noise, I leave that up to myself. Digging this piece of coal out of the ground I found a diamond and I am most definitely gonna look at this diamond more than once. “Nothing But Trouble”, that title made it easy for “sticks up their asses” critics to make fun of the movie. To me watching this was no trouble at all.

Chevy Chase plays Chris Thorne who decides to drive his neighbor, a lawyer Diane Lightson, played by a hotter than hell Demi Moore to visit one of her clients who is stealing money from her in Atlantic City. Chris’ clients, a Brazilian heir and heiress brother and sister, Fausto and Renalda Squiriniszu played by character actors Taylor Negro and Bertila Damas respectively tag along. On the way to Atlantic City, Fausto and Renalda want to stop off somewhere to have picnic which Chris doesn’t want to do, they hound him into pulling off somewhere with trees, they end up in the rural New Jersey turnpike town of Valkenvania and Chris drives past the speed limit unknowingly and he tries to out run the cop car that has jets on its back but has to give up when another cop, Miss Purdah, played by another character actor, Valri Bromfield, is on the road blocking it with her car and a sharp shooter rifle. They are ultimately taken in by Officer Dennis Valkenheiser played by the awesome John Candy and they are brought before a 106 year old judge, Alvin J.P. Valkenheiser, played by Dan Aykroyd, in disgusting make up, when he finds out Chris has something to do with finances Alvin hates bankers and investors he drops Chris and his crew through a holding cell to be tried the next day. They overhear another group of people who got speeding and they were also caught with drugs, the druggies are sentenced to go through the “Bonestripper” roller coaster where their stripped of their flesh. The group knows they need to get the hell out of there.

“Nothing But Trouble”s art design and sets are jaw dropping, a bizarre collection of junk, scrap metal, manikins, retro toys, retro magazines and other knick knacks give the feel of a junkyard carnival. In fact, I’d say the whole aesthetic of the movie is what gives it its extra punch. It is in no way scary, but it will have you on the edge of your seat and you will get laughs. This won’t have you peeing your pants in fear or make your teeth chatter, this is the type of harmless dark comedy that 1944’s “Arsenic and Old Lace” perfected so well. Its goofy and screwball brought to the early 1990’s with a dash of classic Warner Brother’s Cartoon humor.

Both John Candy and Dan Aykroyd do double duty playing different characters. Not only does John play Dennis, he also plays Dennis’ sister Eldona who wants to marry Chris and the Judge, in exchange for Chris’ life, insists on this. John Candy in drag equals hilarity. Dan not only plays the judge, he also plays his mutant inbred grandson, Bobo whose twin brother is Lil’ Debbull played by John Davieikis, Diane falls into their inept and childish clutches, these two characters wouldn’t be out of place in an old Bugs Bunny cartoon, even the voices. The classic Hip Hop (not a fan but cool nonetheless) group Digital Underground make an appearance, complete with a young Tu Pac. Digital Underground gets pulled over for speeding but let go by the judge because he digs their music but he makes them stay to play the wedding music for Chris and Eldona’s forced wedding. This movie is early 1990’s to the fucking core.

This script came from an idea from Dan’s brother Peter who was pulled over for speeding in a podunk town in New Jersey, Peter felt like he was in a kangaroo court, got fined fifty bucks but was invited for tea by the Justice of the Peace after his trial, he was at the dude’s house for four hours! Not to mention Dan and Pete took their producer buddy Robert Weiss to a screening of “Hellraiser” to take his mind off of a rib injury he just had, they heard the audience laughing at the movie and got the idea that audiences wanted to be scared and laugh at the same time. Boom! “Nothing But Trouble” sprang into existence. The movie was originally titled “Valkenvania” but the studio changed it to a line in the movie “Nothing But Trouble”.  The movie went over five million plus bucks budget wise, but that didn’t help it any, it only grossed 8.4 million at the box office while the budget was 40 million over all, back in the day it croaked really hard.

The usual stick in the muds in the lamestream media savaged the shit out of it and it got Razzies. It didn’t help that Chevy Chase was a raging dick head on set berating the staff and fellow actors but what else is new? Apparently legendary fantasy/sci fi artist was commissioned to do the poster art but I’ve never seen it and I don’t think it was ever used. So should you give this movie a chance? I say HELL YES!!! On this blog I will only review noise both audio and visual I find interesting, makes me think, entertaining etc. I will never waste my time or yours on stuff that completely sucks. This movie is in that weird vein of comedy mined by “Beetlejuice”, “Cabin Boy”, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2”, “Freaked” etc. back in the day. Go mine the hell out of it yourself.  

To mine it go here: