Many may not be familiar with the work of writer director Richard Driscoll. You don’t know how lucky you are for he is truly the Ed Wood of British cinema but without the talent and for crimes against cinema he would currently be serving several life sentences. The Comic was a 1985 atrocity set in some sort of fascist future police state for no apparent reason – and that is a phrase that we will be using a lot.
Starting in a soup kitchen where a man is beaten by the guards for no apparent reason the film then relocates to a nightclub where the club comedian Joey Myers (Jeff Pirie) appears to the envy of Sam Coex (Steve Munroe) who’s desperate to get booked to perform at the club but is refused by the MC as he doesn’t have an agent . Embittered Coex takes matters into his own hands and promptly murders Myers burying him and then getting a chance to perform at the club that night due to Myers no show. This is about as coherent as the narrative gets because from here it becomes increasingly incoherent.
Coex, flush with success at the club, begins a relationship with one of the club’s strippers Ann (Berderia Timini) but at the same time he is haunted by the zombified Myers and reality starts to break down for the comic. Thrown into all of this are flashbacks to when he was child and Ann, starts having an affair with a big time agent and it all becomes incomprehensible where the narrative inexplicably speeds up for no apparent reason where he and Ann get married have a child and whizz forward three years to their daughter as a toddler. Then the fascist guards start getting involved….for no apparent reason.
The Comic is utterly incoherent made no easier by the most appalling sound mix we‘ve had the misfortune to hear, sounding like many of the scenes were recorded in a bathroom making much of the dialogue at times barely discernible. In a way that’s a plus point because the dialogue veers between nonsensical clap trap and being so utterly pretentious that it makes a teenager’s poetry sound like Keats. The cast are uniformly appalling – Munroe is so wooden as to be able to camouflage himself in a forest just by standing still and he sports possibly the most ludicrous ginger mullet which would have had even Pat Sharpe sacking his agent. Further to this he has a number of gratuitous sex scenes with the sort of body that looks like a dropped lasagne and so white that he’s likely to get skin cancer just by turning on the bedroom lights. Berderia Timini has the ignominy of having to get her kit off at frequent intervals and the rest of the cast are so jaw droppingly awful led by Simon Davies as a compere so peculiar that he should be sectioned.
There’s a history of films so bad they become cult hits with perhaps ‘The Room‘ being the obvious example but The Comic is in a class of its own, we say class, really it should be kept clear of both children and adults alike as it deserves to be entombed in a concrete casket and dropped to the bottom of the ocean with a 100 mile exclusion zone around it. Made in 1985 it is photographed like a cut price music video for a Duran Duran tribute act and the credits show the crew was small with perhaps our favourite credit being ‘Special Effects Contributor‘ (normally it’s a Special Effects Designer but presumably the man turned up on the day, took a look around and quickly dropped off a job lot of Kensington Gore and latex and made a rapid retreat back home).
The disc for The Comic is thin on bonus features with an intro to the film that has Steve Munroe say two sentences including the film’s title and sounding like its part of some speech therapy rehabilitation programme he is undertaking so it is a surprise an off screen voice isn’t heard to say, ‘Well done Steve , tomorrow we’ll practice saying your date of birth!’. To be fair Munroe comes off a lot better in a standalone interview where he reveals that his character was originally a minor role until the director and Jeff Pirie, the actor playing Joey Myers, fell out and a stand in was used for Pirie in a scene the director added where Myers is murdered and Munroe’s role now becomes the lead. There’s also a Richard Driscoll director commentary that is far more entertaining than the film which is worth a listen about the behind the scenes shenanigans such as the sets being bought from a recent Mel Brooks production and the film being shot in an old aircraft hangar in Cardiff which goes some way to explain the appalling sound quality. An incomprehensible pretentious mess its hardly surprising that at a horror film convention it was booed before Driscoll could do a post film Q&A and the film was lucky to last a week in cinemas on release.
We see hundreds of films every year, some brilliant, some just so-so and some terrible. This aspires to be terrible and fails.
Here’s trailer for The Comic……
THE COMIC IS RELEASED ON BLU-RAY 31ST AUGUST 2020