Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Rubin & Ed - Comic Weirdness By Trent Harris

Review by Steve D. Stones, art by Stones

"More psychedelic fun than a barrel of monkeys on mushrooms." - Details Magazine

Words cannot describe the comic weirdness, if not genius, of writer/director Trent Harris' 1991 cult classic - Rubin & Ed. The same can be said about his 1995 cult film - Plan 10 From Outer Space, which is a commentary on Mormon culture and Ed Wood's 1959 classic - Plan 9 From Outer Space.  I find Rubin & Ed to be the greater of the two films, but both make a great double-feature together.

Ed Tuttle, played by Howard Hesseman, is a down on his luck, middle aged loser who will do anything to prove to his wife Rula (Karen Black) that he can provide a living for her. The problem is, it's too late for Tuttle because his wife has left him and wants nothing to do with him. He wears old 70s leisure suits and a toupee to cover his balding hair. Apparently Tuttle has been a complete failure his entire life, but he refuses to give up, which is part of the charm of his character.

Tuttle attends a get-rich-quick, pyramid scheme seminar called "The Power of Positive Real Estate," also known as "The Organization." Attendants are brainwashed into thinking that they can achieve great wealth and success in their lives by bringing others into the group and selling real estate. Little do they know that the seminar is a scheme to take away their time and money.

While passing out pamphlets to promote "The Organization," Tuttle runs into his first and only sales subject, Rubin Farr, played by eccentric cult actor Crispin Glover. Farr lives with his mother in a hotel, wears bell bottom pants and platform shoes, and listens to the loud music of Mahler all day, while occasionally lounging by the pool.  Farr's mother is constantly on his case to make friends. This is where Tuttle makes his appearance. Two losers, Rubin and Ed, are now united.

Tuttle meets Farr at his hotel room and finds Farr's frozen dead cat in the kitchen freezer. Farr agrees to come with Tuttle to his seminar, but only if they can first find a proper place to bury the cat.  The frozen cat, named Simon, is placed in a Coleman cooler. What follows for the rest of the movie is a buddy themed, road trip across Goblin State Park in Utah - only this time Bob Hope and Bing Crosby are nowhere to be found.

One particularly funny dream sequence shows Rubin floating on a tube at Pineview Reservoir in Utah while his cat Simon is waterskiing behind a boat operated by a beautiful girl. Farr gives his most famous line in the film - "My cat can eat a whole watermelon!"

I was fortunate to have found a VHS copy of Rubin & Ed at a local thrift store for less than $1.00. Sources tell me that a used copy of Rubin & Ed on VHS will run anywhere from $40.00 to $100.00 on E-Bay and other movie sales sites. A new VHS copy will run you about $200.00. I often rented the film from Blockbuster Video and Hollywood Video in the 1990s from the "Cult Classics" section of both video stores.

I was also fortunate to have purchased a signed copy of Harris' Plan 10 From Outer Space on DVD at Sam Weller's book store in downtown Salt Lake City about 10 years ago. This is one of my most cherished movie collectibles, next to a clam-shelled 80s VHS copy of Andy Milligan's Torture Dungeon from Midnight Video.

To purchase Rubin & Ed on DVD or other films by director Trent Harris, visit his web store at Hooray for the Echo People! Happy viewing.

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