Dumpster Baby (2000)
By: Devon B. on September 20, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Troma (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 4:3. English DD 2.0. 80 minutes
The Movie
Director: James Bickert, Randy Hill
Starring: Angela Benjamin, Akasha Sjolin, Jeffrey Charlton, Thomas Alan Beckett
Screenplay: James Bickert, Randy Hill
Country: USA
The Dumpster Baby DVD opens with a preview for Troma's upcoming opus Poultrygeist. I want to see this movie!!! I've downloaded the theme song and have been playing it non-stop! Killer zombie chickens? That's only the best idea of all time!

Once starting the actual movie, we get the usual intro by Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger. He's got a black eye, which raises the question: Who could possibly have any reason to hurt Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger?

Anyway, Dumpster Baby begins with a basehead giving birth. She doesn't want the kid, so makes her smoke buddy deal with it. The friend tries to sell the baby for drugs, but when that doesn't work, she dumps the baby (hence the title). A business man getting head from a Kiwi hooker hears the baby crying in the dumpster, and tries to rescue the child. He ends up getting knifed, and thrown in a taxi like he's just imbibed too much. The hooker also puts the baby in the boot of the cab, and the film continues to follow the child's journey into and out of the lives of many different people. Kind of like 20 Bucks, but with a crack baby instead of a $20 note. Or even Forest Gump with a slightly less handicapped version of Tom Hanks.

Dumpster Baby is an odd, odd film. It starts with promise, but eventually it gets bogged down in bad sound. The film is very dialogue heavy, and it became really hard to pay attention and follow the story threads when it was hard to understand everyone. The acting skills on display are across the board, and that also makes some of the stories hard to watch. The baby, which no one ever thinks to feed, is played mainly by a bundle, and becomes virtually irrelevant most of the time.

The film has some artistic visuals, and a very specific nod to Der Todesking, which should give you some idea what the filmmakers were trying to do. I'd say the works of David Lynch and Troma's own Combat Shock (AKA American Nightmare) were also influences. The film takes place in a surreal world where a cloaked gunman walking down an alley while firing his piece doesn't even turn heads, and I won't even pretend I understand what the movie was ultimately about.

I don't know what I think of Troma using an IMDB quote on the slick, either. Might as well grab someone off the street and ask their opinion, for all that's worth. But, I guess if Columbia used an Amazon.com quote for Happy Birthday To Me, what's to stop Troma from going slightly lower? The slick also compares Dumpster Baby to Saw, but I think whoever drew that comparison must've gotten into any crack leftover on the set.
The film is presented at 1.33:1, and looks okay given it probably cost $5 to make. There are some video glitches, along with some specks and halos. There is also grain, which can get heavy at times.
Audio is presented in a two-channel mix. The score is the only thing that comes through clear, as we're treated to a melee of wannabe soundalikes mimicking Alice In Chains, Isaac Hayes, and Ozzy Osbourne. As I said in the main review, the dialogue can be hard to decipher, and is a bit muffled. There're some "s" hisses, wind can mess with the sound, and there is distortion. The audio is REALLY bad, and prevents enjoyment of the film.
Extra Features
Most of the extras are actually trailers. However, they're not listed like trailers, and I know some trailers got by the OFLC on some recent Troma DVDs by doing this. I don't know whether Troma's main branch are modifying this on their initial releases to make it easier to get R4 releases, but they did seem to abandon the T.I.T. shortly after that got refused classification here. The trailers include: Make Your Own Damn Movie, Slaughter Party (which features a midget murderer, so it may be right up there with Ratman), Touch Me in the Morning, Beg!, and Lollilove (which looks very, very funny). There's also an ad for the website; Korable's "Wild Man" video featuring Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, playing a blind man like in Terror Firmer; and, you knew it was coming, the Radiation March short.

The only specific extra is a commentary with writer/directors James Bickert and Randy Hill, cinematographer Bill Burton, and the AD, who chimes in occasionally. It's not a particularly helpful track in terms of explaining some of Dumpster Baby's strangest points. The guys joke a lot, but I didn't find it funny, but that may just be because I didn't like the film. Far more bizarre than anything found in the actually movie, is that these guys compliment the sound! What audio track were they listening to?

There's also an Easter Egg to be found. Select the "Dumpster-Diving Derelicts" from the Tromatic Extras menu to see the DVD credits. Press left to make the words "Media Relations Emirtus: Marie Le Claire" appear. Hit enter to see Marie's final few moments of work at the Troma studio, which was filmed at the same time as the DVD intro to Dumpster Baby.
The Verdict
The best thing about this disc is the Poultrygeist preview. Dumpster Baby is too slow and arty for my tastes, so I wound up frustrated with the effort it took to even view the film due to the horrid sound.
Movie Score
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