The Refrigerator (1991)

REVIEWS - Movie Reviews

Remember in the old movies, when the detective would go the stylish home of the beautiful, mysterious woman, to question her in the investigation surrounding the murder of her husband Charles?

"I can't imagine who would want to hurt Charles," she would say. "He was such a kind and gentle man."

And we would know something was wrong, and the detective would search, and probe, and investigate, and finally he would find out . . . that Charles was an alcoholic, a gun-lover, a man who liked to humiliate his wife in public, a collector of sadistic porno, and the kind of guy who would kick a dog.

Time to go talk to the beautiful, mysterious widow again, right?

"You HATED Charles!" the detective would finally say. "He hit you, he tormented you, he despised you, and you felt TRAPPED. You HATED him, didn't you?"

And then the woman would break down. "YES! Okay, YES! I DID hate him! And I ENJOYED killing him!"

And then we would know this lady was going to jail FOREVER. All you had to do was find a motive, and you solved the crime.

Not anymore, though.

If you made one of those flicks today, the big final scene would go like this:

"You HATED Charles! He hit you, he tormented you, and you STRUCK BACK at him, didn't you?"

"YES! I struck back! I KILLED him! I felt trapped!"

"Okay! Well, you had a good reason. Just DON'T DO IT AGAIN, okay?"

In other words, there's no such thing as a MOTIVE for a crime anymore--at least not in real life. There's only a bunch of reasons that you were victimized, until it got so bad that the only way out was to commit a felony. You can kill your husband, then be on "Oprah" a year later, saying, "Well, in retrospect, I see now that I was not in control of my life. He was in control of my life. And I struck out against that power."

"Let's see now, Ms. Witherspoon, I understand that you drilled a hole through his skull with a Black and Decker power tool, is that correct?"

"Yes, maam."

"Excuse me for saying this, but it seems a little unconventional."

"What you have to understand is that I was under a lot of pressure, caused by being a prisoner in his house. He controlled every aspect of my life."

"Except your access to power tools, of course."

"Yes, maam."

And then, most amazing of all, they have these psychologists who come on the shows, and testify at trials, saying, "Well, she was driven to this by a horrible man. You can't really hold her responsible for her actions."

And people BUY this.

Listen, ladies, CALL 911, okay? I'm surprised I have to tell you this.

Speaking of scary modern trends, "The Refrigerator" is about a Yuppie couple from Ohio who move to the Lower East Side of New York City where they get an apartment for 200 bucks a month--and DON'T THINK ANYTHING IS WRONG.

Oh, okay, there are a FEW things wrong. The plumbing is old and leaky. There's a draft coming from under the sink. Drug dealers stand out on the street in front of the building. You have to walk up six flights. And, oh yeah, the refrigerator chews people up and squeezes all the blood out of their bodies and turns them into zombies and sends them to hell.

Of course, ONLY THE WIFE NOTICES. The husband is too busy with his career. He thinks all she needs is a few Valium. She thinks all she needs is a starring role on Broadway. Both of them have a lot of nightmares where fog rolls across the floor and they walk into the kitchen and talk to sinister little men hiding behind the Aunt Jemima pancake mix. It's bad enough when Paolo the plumber's assistant disappears. But when Mom comes to check out the apartment and gets chewed into bacon bits, it's time to run over to the homeless shanty where the neighborhood voodoo woman communes with spirits and find out WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON.

It's one of those flicks that's trying a little too hard to be a cult movie. A major household appliance can only be SO scary, and then you start wishing they'd chosen something different, like a demonic Naugahyde sofa. Fun to watch, but about as terrifying as chicken noodle soup.

Six dead bodies. Multiple zombies. Multiple aardvarking. Head rolls. Butcher knife in the back. Leg-chomping. Blender face-chewing. Hand rolls. Haagen-Dazs Fu. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for David Simonds, as the weirdbeard Yuppie husband who says "Come here, my sly little fish" and "I am the waffle maker!"; Angel Caban, as the flamenco-dancing Bolivian plumber; Phyllis Sanz, as the voodoo woman who spouts things like "You must be strong--do not breed in weakness" and other inscrutable wisdom; Julia McNeal, as the daydreaming housewife/actress who packs a mean plunger; and Nicholas Jacobs, the writer/director, for the line "Few young men share your enthusiasm for gourmet cheese."

Three stars.

Joe Bob says check it out.