One can’t help getting the feeling that director Elvis Restaino gave his lead character the name “Richard” just so he could use the title “See Dick Die.” Clever. Especially since this isn’t the Dick and Jane we remember from those grade school readers.
They weren’t dying of inoperable cancer, for one thing; an affliction Richard faces in this provocative video. Confronted with the prospect of a slow and painful withering away, a process that could take anywhere from three months to three years, Richard decides to enlist the services of the mysterious Dr. Schrek. As Richard’s attractive girlfriend Karen discovers when the not-so-kindly doctor knocks on their door, the notorious, intensely soft-spoken, creepy-looking Dr. Kevorkian type is as likely to frighten his prospective clients to death as he is to fulfill his commitment to helping the terminally ill commit suicide. Though Karen clearly no longer loves Richard, her passionate anti-assisted suicide beliefs at first lead her to vehemently oppose Richard’s plan on principal. Only at the very end, when Schrek arrives to spirit his visibly emasculated patient away in his van does she haltingly come around to accepting his wishes.
Just as this storyline winds down, Restaino introduces a second, seemingly unrelated tale involving Karen and Monica, a sexy lesbian and recovering heroin addict whom Karen almost runs down on a rainy night. Yet, with Karen on the verge of recovering Richard’s life insurance money, Dr. Schrek not-so-coincidentally re-enters the picture when Monica mysteriously backslides into using again.
“See Dick Die” is really nothing like the staid TV movie the above synopsis may make it sound like. The synopsis, for instance, can’t begin to convey the video’s sheer nihilistic attitude. This visually provocative piece manages to push the right buttons on its way to conveying its pro-assisted suicide, anti-drug message without being too preachy about it. It also manages to convey a palpably erotic lesbian undercurrent without being blatantly exploitative about it.
Still, the film is a muddled mess; the coherency of its plot(s) obscured by its visual slickness. “See Dick Die” is, like so many films that try to push the visual parameters, a spectacularly gaudy near miss that’s as visually impressive as it is confusing. The one thing that’s for certain is that no one will mistake this intensely gloomy video for the screen adaptation of the relentlessly cheerful grade school readers.