#290 -- Quicksilver Highway (1997)
Rating: 3 / 5
I know you're looking at that poster, and all the names that are plastered on it, and I know what you're thinking. But stop right now, because Quicksilver Highway isn't at all what you're thinking it is. I saw it years ago, without having known anything about it or the people behind it, and I thought it was just okay. Now that I do know, I'm a little bit shocked by it.
Christopher Lloyd plays Aaron Quicksilver, a travelling man who collects odd stories and things. He likes to tell these stories to whoever he meets on his travels, whether they want to hear them or not. The first person he meets is a new bride having some car troubles. Her new husband has gone for help, leaving her all alone. Mr. Quicksilver shows up to keep her company, invites her into his luxurious camper, and tells her one very strange story, indeed. He then meets a pickpocket at a local carnival, when he dips into Quicksilver's oddities tent, and he tells him yet another weird story. The stories that he tells seem to have no point or moral, but he assures his audience that there's always a moral to be found if you're willing to look for it.
Quicksilver's first story was about a travelling salesman named Bill. Trying to make his way home through a terrible storm, Bill stopped at a little roadside store for gas and snacks. He picked up a pair of chattery teeth to give his son for his birthday, and he also picked up a hitchhiker named Bryan. Bryan seemed okay to begin with, even though you can be almost certain that his name wasn't Bryan at all. After a little while, though, Bryan pulled a knife on Bill and tried to steal his van. Instead of letting Bryan get away with it, Bill decided to crash the van. The teeth then killed Bryan and chewed Bill out of his seat-belt so that he could get out of the overturned van. The teeth also disposed of Bryan's body.
The second story was about a plastic surgeon, Dr. Charles George. Being in a profession that relies greatly on his hands, it would be a horrible thing if anything were to happen to them. Well, one day, Charlie's hands developed a mind of their own. They began to make him do things that were out of his control - like causing him to drive into oncoming traffic. The hands would talk to each other while Charlie was asleep, planning their freedom, and also planning to raise an army and start a revolution. So, they picked a night, killed Charlie's wife, and one of them freed the other by chopping it off with a butcher knife. Charlie was admitted to the hospital, where his severed hand followed him and convinced all the other hands to join the revolution.
There are a lot of great people involved with this movie. First of all, it was directed by Mick Garris, who was a part of the Masters of Horror, and has also directed quite a few Stephen King adaptations. The two stories Quicksilver had to tell were based on short stories written by Stephen King and Clive Barker. These are three guys who are masters in the art of horror. Add to that the actors bringing life to the characters. Christopher Lloyd was great, as usual. Silas Mitchell played "Bryan" the killer hitchhiker. Raphael Sbarge was Bill the travelling salesman, and Matt Frewer played Dr. George, a performance that seriously reminded me of Jim Carrey. With all the people involved in this movie, mostly the first three I mentioned, I feel like it should have been a lot better than it was. It could have been everything horror is meant to be. But it just wasn't. Honestly, to me, it felt...weird. I am extremely familiar with the work of Mr. King, and slightly familiar with Clive Barker, and I know that they are able to bring life to stories where others would fail miserably. I haven't read the stories on which these shorts were based, but I feel certain that they are stories that can only be told by those who told them originally. Chattery Teeth looked silly, and Body Politic (the killer hands) was absolutely comical. I'm not sure if this was the point entirely. It wasn't altogether bad, but again, it just felt weird. These stories felt like things that this crazy guy, Quicksilver, made up to freak some people out, rather than things that actually happened. Chattery Teeth, the one written by Stephen King, was taken from his book Nightmares and Dreamscapes. I've got the book sitting next to me as I write this, ready to read and compare, but I'm certain that it will be nothing short of amazing.
Quicksilver Highway is a strange movie that was possibly meant to frighten, but it was most likely meant to simply entertain, as it comes across more comical than anything.