By Dr. Rhonda Baughman | February 6, 2004

I’ll tell you – I wasn’t so sure this flick was going to be all that much fun when I saw the running time – 3 1/2 hours (or ‘1/2 hour if on FF,’ according to the box). But Mark Deric Barnes, the man behind this digital, animated, blue-screened, and real-life marathon gave his film an awesome disclaimer and I can honestly say he really should have his own cable access show. *Really.* At the very least, my friends and I would tune in. He’s the African –American version of my buddy, Kevin ‘the Son of Ghoul” Scarpino – and Barnes certainly gets my vote as the man with a vision that makes it work instead of torturing his audience to tears.

It’s almost impossible to watch this film in one sitting – if only because of the length and I that fact most likely have a mild OCD or a vague inclination towards ADHD. Or some other nifty clinical acronym. But, really this film was a blast – Barnes is cute, and the move is a travelogue, homage, archival footage fun, and personal statement all rolled into one – and “Downward Spiral,” much like the recently reviewed “Return of the Forest Monster,” has one of the most hilarious opening sequences I have ever seen and the song playing behind the opening credits gives away what the movie is really all about. Man, and I would kill my neighbors for a copy of the soundtrack, if one existed.

Barnes is Mark, a down-on-his-luck waiter, fired for imagined insubordination, who embarks on a cross-country journey: Boston, New York, Chicago, among others. Barnes is also hardened criminal Super Ninja. And a sap named Trench Coat. And some dude named Eye Patch. And a Gangbanger, and a Nerd, and etc. etc. – Oh yeah, Barnes is just about everyone in the film – a whole slew of other funny stereotypes he nails completely – and amazingly enough, he pulls it all off. I wish to hell I could meet someone with this much charisma, to keep my attention for three hours, while the proper mix of rap, country, funk, and 80’s music plays in the background. Okay, he’s also a man who relies on his Tranformers, (they even do little dances!) and holy hell, makes love to an animated hooker. Barnes even knew to pop in some shots of some REALLY hot women, worth watching the film alone for.

This film is so over-the-top, I have to share it with some pals. I may even have to pop it in at party, while everyone gets a little slaphappy. And while “Downward Spiral” may not make it very far, I bet Barnes will – and this little underground classic waiting-to-happen will be in my collection when he does.

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