Zzyzyx Rd

Year: 2006
Production Co: Zzyzyx LLC
Director: John Penney
Writer: John Penney
Cast: Katherine Heigl, Tom Sizemore, Leo Grillo

There's only one reason to see this movie, and that's curiosity to see what the least profitable film ever made looks like.

A headtrip about two lovers in the desert, it stars a pre-stardom Katherine Heigl and an unhinged Tom Sizemore (is there any other kind?) and was released theatrically in a single theatre for a single week to comply with screen actors guild rules. Total box office gross – $20.

Why? There are certainly worse films around. It's probably a classic case of a distributor buying something, realising they weren't going to make money out of it (maybe suffering a change of management) and dumping it at a loss, the backers losing their shirts as their $2m budget went nowhere.

Everyday schmoe Grant (Grillo – the producer and definitely not leading man material) is driving into the desert with his underage lover Marissa (Heigl) and the body of her psycho ex boyfriend Joey (Sizemore) in the trunk. They intend to take it out to the remote dirt road of the title, bury Joey and get on with their lives.

But when they get there Joey's body goes missing, apparently not as dead as they thought. The pair stumble around in the desert all night trying to decide whether to just flee or find Joey and finish him off, but the whole time Grant sees disturbing visions of Marissa's face melting off.

It's not until the next morning that Grant tracks Joey down to an abandoned mine – by which time Marissa's survived a normally-fatal snakebite – where the latter tries to reason with Grant about the truth. Marissa's not human, Joey claims, and he was in the process of getting her (fake) feminine wiles out of his system and taking care of her for good when Grant came into her life and she started work on him instead. They have no choice but to find her and cut her heart out with a special knife Joey has for just that purpose.

But there's a deeper truth I won't spoil here, except to say that writer/director John Penney is obviously a Lynch fan. Even though film itself isn't terribly well done, in Lynch's hands such an unreliable narrator/insanity made reality story would be a masterpiece. It even had many of the elements he often returns to such as lovers with fracturing minds and the surreal landscapes of remote California.

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