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Thursday, June 22, 2023

I Can Be Your Worst Enemy: The Underrated Horror Comedy of The Cable Guy

The Cable Guy is NOT a horror movie,” you think to yourself while considering verbally punching me in the throat in the comments section below. You’re correct. But also, imagine this: If an unhinged, uber manipulative, obsessive, attention deprived stranger, with deep seeded mother abandonment issues, that you mistakenly let into your home and life began stalking you; turned your friends, family and girlfriend against you; had you arrested for crimes you didn’t commit; set up hidden cameras in your apartment; had you fired from your job; talked dirty to your mother; stalked and assaulted your ex’s new boyfriend in a men’s bathroom at a public restaurant and eventually kidnapped your ex with a stapler (exhale) all in the matter of a few days…

Wouldn’t that be… horrific?

Chip Douglas (Jim Carrey) may be gangly, over the top and hilarious to us but what he’s doing to Steven (Matthew Broderick) in 1996’s The Cable Guy is surprisingly and frighteningly realistic. The way a stranger can just come into your life with something as banal as a cable appointment and systematically use the tiniest bit of kindness to love bomb and destroy your entire existence from the inside is more authentic than comfort would like to dictate. All it took was the right victim, a few “preferred customers,” and some stalker sized dedication.

The right victim being Steven, who has such tunnel vision for desperately winning back his half-interested girlfriend (Leslie Mann) that he’d probably have a beer with Ted Bundy if it meant getting a leg up. He has a very small and penetrable circle full of people who are much more likely to believe a fun, charismatic new guy over Steven, who has a very self centered and whiney personality. The aforementioned “preferred customers” being Police Officers willing to look the other way and Medieval Times employees willing to let him commit attempted murder in front of hundreds of people whilst doing an acapella Star Trek soundtrack (BUDDDADADAHHH! BUDDADDADDAH!). All things considered, this mess could have ended far uglier than it did for Steven and Chip could have gotten away with it, too. All he would have had to do was juice up the Medical Examiner with a free sports package. Cable was expensive, man!

In all seriousness, The Cable Guy isn’t without some casual Hollywood Horror. There’s the “monster man” scene where Steven has a nightmare that Chip shows up in his hallway in the middle of the night screaming “CABLLLLE GUUYY” with neon green eyes. He breaks down his door Jason Voorhees style, howling “I JUST WANT TO HANG OUT! NO BIG DEAL!” and chases him down before Steven wakes up at the last second. Then there’s the scene where Chip is lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling as he makes a threatening phone call. A spider crawls slowly across his face as he just smiles with no other reaction whatsoever, lying still in total super psycho repose. Say what you want about the movie as a whole but that shit gives me the shivery timbers.

Perhaps the most underrated horror aspect of The Cable Guy, however, is the work of director Ben Stiller (Yeah, that Ben Stiller!) and cinematographer Robert Brinkmann. There’s a certain horror movie look and atmosphere to it all. The entire film seems to take place at night with a subtle dark and windy Haddonfield-esque vibe even though it takes place in the city. There always seems to be a storm on the horizon. This paired with the constant, heartless true crime shock TV storyline of the Menendez brothers in the background creates a nice, creepy at home alone during a thunderstorm at night vibe. And you may think I’m crazy but take a look at the camerawork the next time you watch the bathroom scene. As Jim Carrey, dressed as the Una-bomber, beats the living hell out of Owen Wilson’s asshole character in the bathroom? The framing and movements of the camera are incredibly cinematic and impressive. Kudos, Ben Stiller.

Cable Guy horror horror

There’s so many moments like this in The Cable Guy that were overlooked because audiences just weren’t able to overcome seeing Jim Carrey in such a dark film. I’ve no doubt this strange little movie – written by Lou Holtz Jr., his only IMDb credit to date – would be celebrated critically had it been released today. Hell, even at the beginning of Carrey’s career it would have been received with far less bewilderment. Instead The Cable Guy released in 1996 at the absolute precipice of Carrey’s stardom. On the heels of Dumb and DumberAce Ventura and The Mask, audiences just couldn’t process it. Like when your favorite sports player leaves for another team and your brain just doesn’t quite compute how weird it is to see them wearing a different jersey.

If you think all this is bias, you might be right. Personally, I think Jim Carrey is one of the top five most talented people I’ve ever watched grace a screen. But that won’t stop me from stating that I think The Cable Guy might be the most overlooked and underappreciated comedic performance of his career. So many quotable lines make this one of my most re-watched movies of all time. From “Scrambee eggs!” to “It’s just skin Steven” to “Red Knight goin down! Down, down, down!” pretty much every line uttered by Carrey is a classic. At least in my house.

Again, I won’t sit here and try to argue this is a horror movie. It’s not. But The Cable Guy certainly flirts with being a comedy-horror of sorts, and it’s best enjoyed through that lens.

And this concludes our broadcast day. Click!

Cable Guy horror comedy

The post “I Can Be Your Worst Enemy”: The Underrated Horror Comedy of ‘The Cable Guy’ appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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