Right off the bat, The Trouble with Barry has a major advantage in the low-budget campy gay comedy horror genre. Barry is played by Peter Stickles, who is indie gold! His resume includes an intriguing list of films: Shortbus, Cemetery Gates, Evilution, Watch Out, Eat Your Heart Out, Evil Bong 3, Gingerdead Man 3, Showgirls 2, BearCity, Psychosomatika, Finger Bang, and Brides of Sodom (amazing titles). He was also the evil vampire on the gay horror series The Lair!
The opening scene of The Trouble with Barry rules! B-horror queens Linnea Quigley, Michelle Bauer, and Brinke Stevens sit around making in-jokes about horror…including the one about the Jamie Lee Curtis hermaphrodite rumor. Soon, they get into an argument with Barry, a washed up actor. Just as I thought the film couldn’t get any better, Barry refers to the scream queens as the Golden Girls.
Speaking of The Golden Girls, I am CONVINCED that an exterior shot of a house in one scene is actually the original Golden Girls house.
The Trouble with Barry is cult comedy with a slasher film subplot. Barry gets a new acting opportunity to do a show called “I Love the Nightlife” with a cast including…um…dried up actress Pussy Johnson (Rena Rifel, who was in Candyman: Day of the Dead, Showgirls 1 and 2, and a few episodes of Dante’s Cove), Euro trash named Europa, and a black lesbian.
Also on the casting couch…I mean, cast, is a deliciously furry cub (Matthew Stephen Herrick).
Barry has a self-centered mother. Barry is being stalked by Bette Midler, played by Craig Taggart from the Sordid Lives TV series, who has the Midler walk and talk down perfectly. And Barry is soon a suspect as the members of the cast begin getting killed one by one….
Campy quips abound, as do out of control pop culture and horror references, including digs at: Asia Argento and Dario Argento, Maxwell Caulfield, Cory Feldman, Tawny Kitaen, WKRP in Cincinnati, Vin Diesel, Courtney Love, Mark Wahlberg, Nicolas Cage, Sharon Stone, Madonna, Drew Barrymore, John Leguizamo, and many more. Yes, more than that.
One major scene stealer is the receptionist at the gym. She rox.
There are hints of sexiness, including Barry getting butt fucked (fully dressed), a dude playing with his nipple, and the furry cub in an incredible workout montage. And for the lady lovers, Pussy Johnson does an exaggerated shower scene in which she moans and groans as she’s rubbing soap all over herself. Soon after that, Pussy gets scared by a pussy scare (a black pussy, no less), and then we meet the killer!
Okay, this might be a comedy, but the killer is even creepier than Michael Caine in Dressed to Kill, wearing a long coat and a creepy woman’s mask with long red hair. At one point, the killer puts on a creepy cat mask!
In fact, the few horror moments here show that directors Mike Justice and Stephen Kitaen (any relation to Tawny?) know a few things about horror. First, they drench the whole movie in Dario Argento red lighting. They use classic eerie shots of the killer in the background. And the chase scene with the cub could be dropped into a serious horror movie and still work perfectly (if you take out his hilarious girly screams). Not to mention, the sets are loaded with posters of classic horror movies.
If you love pop culture, gay humor, cute guys, and low-budget b-movie horror like me, you’ll probably appreciate The Trouble with Barry.