Horror Movie Review: Nothing But Trouble (1991)

“You people are sick, wicked, funky, misanthropic, co-dependent animals! And I won’t have my sister, who was once the Queen of the Mardi Gras, sitting at a table with a pickle-shooting train!”

 Nothing but Trouble is a 1991 American horror comedy film directed by Dan Aykroyd in his directorial debut. Also written by Aykroyd based on a story by Peter Aykroyd.

While hosting a party in his Manhattan penthouse, financial publisher Chris Thorne (Chevy Chase) meets lawyer Diane Lightson (Demi Moore). He agrees to escort her to consult a client in Atlantic City on the following day. Thorne’s clients, obnoxious but wealthy Brazilian siblings Fausto and Renalda Squiriniszu (Taylor Negron and Bertila Damas), meet up with them and invite themselves along. Chris takes a detour off of the New Jersey Turnpike. They ultimately end up in the run-down village of Valkenvania.

After running a stop sign and subsequently attempting to escape pursuing officer Dennis Valkenheiser (John Candy), the group is captured. They’re taken before Dennis’s 106-year-old grandfather Judge Alvin Valkenheiser (Dan Aykroyd). After Chris offends the judge, the group are locked in a hidden room under the courthouse to be judged the next day. They overhear the judge violently executing a group of convicted drug dealers in a deadly roller coaster nicknamed “Mr. Bonestripper”.

Chris, Diane and the Brazilians attend the judge’s dinner. They learn that the Judge is holding them there out of revenge for a coal deal which the Valkenheiser family blames for their poverty. The group attempts an escape, but Chris and Diane are captured by Alvin’s mute granddaughter Eldona (Candy, in a dual role). Meanwhile, being chased by Dennis’ trigger-happy cousin, Miss Purdah, the Brazilians escape by cutting a deal with Dennis. He decides to escape with them.

The Judge holds Chris and Diane hostage, but they eventually escape, get lost through hidden hallways and slides and become separated. Diane makes it out of the house and into the property’s salvage yard. Here, she meets two troll-like creatures by the names of Bobo (played by Aykroyd) and Lil’ Debbull, the judge’s severely deformed grandchildren.

Will the group escape from Valkenvania or is something else on the cards? Watch and find out.

To start off it’s worth noting that this film was not well received. It had negative reception, with criticism directed at its humor, screenplay, tone, and direction. Aykroyd also went on to receive a Worst Supporting Actor Razzie. Personally, I think that reaction is completely unfair and if this movie has one thing going for it, it’s that you’ll never be bored for a single moment.

Nothing But Trouble is creative, unique and it’s clear a lot of effort has gone into it. The amount of commitment needed to put together a project like this must have been huge. I would take this movie 100 times over some of the generic fodder produced today. A surreal and unpredictable tale that somehow manages to carry out a coherent story amongst the chaos. But, that’s truly what makes it such an enigma. How a film meshes together so much and still functions well is pretty amazing, it clearly achieves what it intended.

I would say Nothing But Trouble is similar to Troma films, you’ll either get it or you won’t. You either understand they’re going for the absurd and enjoy it for what it is, or you’ll hate it. If you liked The ‘Burbs, you’ll definitely find enjoyment here.

Although, I would say that those who genuinely hate this movie must lack a funny bone, I would admit that the humour dips in and out throughout this movie. It’s tonally a bit of a mess and I found past the dinner scene (the best scene), it becomes less funny and more just flat out weird. But I still enjoyed it regardless.

Dan Aykroyd is obviously the star of the show. How could he not be when he’s practically wearing all the hats available. Besides him, I found Demi Moore and Chevy Chase to be pretty shallow and not very likeable. I actually would have preferred if the brother/sister duo had been the leads, they had more chemistry and gained more laughs from me. Everyone did play their roles well though, and a special acknowledgement has to go to John Candy for his dual roles. Without any hint of ridicule, he genuinely made a beautiful woman – which proves that makeup is magic.

The effects still hold up well today, and I commend Aykroyd for going with all the crazy ideas and making them work.

Overall, Nothing But Trouble is a fucking experience. A surreal, creative ride that had the potential to be a real horror comedy cult classic. If only they had gone full blood and gore instead of trying to keep it more “family fun”. Perhaps it would have been more highly regarded with a few gallons of blood on display.

Quick bit of trivia for any Tupac fans: This is Tupac’s first ever movie role before he was famous!




Nothing But Trouble
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