This movie is screwed-up six ways to Sunday.
The cast, a crossbreeding of the characters from John Waters and Jim Jarmusch, are all residents of Creepsville, psycho-sexually dysfunctional freaks with homicidal tendencies and a whacked sense of honor. The story, if you can call it that, is a disturbing episodic character study, laced with darkly comic moments juxtaposed against ultraviolent scenes of sheer manic lunacy. Director Adam Berstein’s stylish visual sensibilities and uncanny editorial choices are jarring, in the best possible way, fortunately and miraculously never intruding on the experience of watching the film.
Eighteen-year-old Harry Odum (Norman Reedus) lives with and supports his overprotective, overbearing, overcreepy mother Kate (Debbie Harry). However, when Harry’s repressed rage explodes outward into the vicious beating of a stripclub owner, Harry attracts the attention of Abie “The Bug” Pinkwise (Peter Appel), a low-level thug in the local Jewish mafia.
The Bug takes Harry under his wing and introduces him to Mob boss, Varga, (Jerry Adler), who accepts Harry into “the family” with open arms when it’s discovered he didn’t rat out to cop Bennet (Isaac Hayes), also a member of the organization. Harry’s newfound independence tests his relationship with his mother, especially when he begins to date an immigrant named Iris (Elina Lowensohn), Varga’s handicapped maid. The schizophrenic Harry’s life soon spirals into an abyss of murder, rape, incest and almost everything else unsavory.
Six Ways to Sunday isn’t an easy film to watch. But it’s worth your discomfort. I don’t know how he did it, but Adam Bernstein somehow managed to disturb and disgust without it seeming like that was his point.