Sometimes we have to talk about the unspeakable.
So back in 2016, we got this weird little film called Swiss Army Man from the Daniels Kwan and Scheinert. This ended up being a favorite of mine, heartwarming and sweet while still being about a man on a deserted island carrying around a farting corpse that points the way with its erection. Somehow this was a sweet movie (don’t ask me how they pulled this off, they just did) that taught me something – if you don’t know Jurassic Park, you don’t know shit. Scheinert has set out on his own this time, looking to true life for inspiration. This is a true crime story, but not like any you’ve ever seen in a film before. I can’t even…look, I’m not telling you what the crime is. You’ve just got to see for yourself because it’s just too ridiculous.
Dick Long isn’t even really a character in this. Sure, he’s there for a bit, but his death occurs early in the film and he has pretty much no character. Instead, our focus is on Zeke Olsen (Michael Abbott Jr.), a country man in a small town that plays in a cover band with his buddies Dick Long (Daniel Scheinert) and Earl Wyeth (Andre Hyland). His wife, Lydia (Virginia Newcomb), is a loving woman that has a really sweet relationship with her husband and his friends. After she goes to bed, having sung their praises during band practice (they’re really bad), the boys decide to “get weird.” Opening credits play over a montage of guys screwing around. They shoot their guns at bottles and cans, piss on a bonfire, and hold roman candles between their legs so it looks like their dicks are shooting fire. All fun and games and I’ll say a lot of us have done stuff like this while drunk or stoned, but what happens next is just nuts.
We don’t see it, but we’re told about it later. Instead, we cut to Dick Long bleeding out on the backseat of Zeke’s car. Zeke is in shock, and he’s stopping at red lights while Earl insists they rush through them to the hospital. They take Dick’s wallet and drop him outside the hospital before running away. Dick dies in the night from his…*ahem*…injuries.
This is a game of cat and mouse, but it’s being played by a bunch of idiots. I take some issue with how mean-spirited the film is towards the characters and their origins, from the cops to the men to their wives, but it’s so difficult to let that derail anything. It’s an open mockery but…it’s a subject that might only be processed through that lens. The true story behind this film is one that had a flash of attention in the ’90s. A man died horribly, but it was in such a ridiculous way that people began mocking him. The director spoke on this in an interview with BirthMoviesDeath, talking about why he tackled the film with writer Billy Chew. He said, “It is. It was inspired by Billy hearing a news story about this guy dying in a crazy way and then seeing it become kind of a punchline on late-night talk shows. And Billy was like, “Well, hold on – what was that guy like?” That’s a valid question and I really want to know but there’s no way the family is talking. Instead, we’re given this fictional interpretation of a story that’s just too bonkers to be anything but the truth.
The Death of Dick Long isn’t perfect, but it’s bizarre and is going to shock the hell out of most people. I’m not going to lie, you should avoid this if you’re sensitive to the disturbing or violent subject matter. Hell, I was uncomfortable. I cackled during parts of it because if I didn’t I was going to feel too horrid. Just remember, this actually happened and it’s so very…very wrong. If you’ve got the stomach for it then this might be one of the most fascinating movies you watch all year.
The Death of Dick Long is now available on VUDU, Fandango Now, and Flix Fling.