Forgotten Drug Movies #2: The Salton Sea

2 years ago

In the first Forgotten Drugs movies post I made a reference to Guy Ritchie’s brilliant “Lock, Stock, Two Smoking Barrels”. Thus the obvious thing to do now would be to reprise the series and continue with that British jewel, but that would be too easy, wouldn’t it?

If You're Looking For The Truth, You've Come To The Wrong Place.

Instead, let’s visit a lesser known movie. A movie which would surprise anyone who knows my film snobbery but nevertheless an entertaining 103 minutes. A movie with a surprisingly positive IMDb rating even.

Enough Already... What’s Good About It?

  1. Val Kilmer can act - that’s not a typo
  2. Great scenery
  3. Pooh-Bear

Alright, alright I know that I started with a bombshell. A bombshell I myself never expected I would ever say or write, at least not until I had seen The Salton Sea (2002).

Val Kilmer can act.

The Plot

Sometimes there’s movies where you truly look forward to the plot. Maybe the reviewer you read even explained you how beautiful the cinematography is and how great the camera work is. You may never have discovered the subtleties of most Hitchcock movies until a pro-movie nerd pointed it all out. Some reviewers will go into the wildest and most minuscule details to point out how excellent and why a scene is indeed that brilliant. Being told that all-star cast “Sleepers” works that well thanks to the frantic mid-90s MTV videoclips alike camera work will change your viewing experience of the movie and most likely increase your appreciation. I’m not one of those reviewers though and I don’t tend to nitpick the details of a plot either. Luckily, because the plot of the Salton Sea is not much better than your average Mills & Boons romance paperback your grandmother most likely read some decades back.

I share my experience and appreciation for a movie in the way I viewed it myself. Simple as that.

Sometimes that’s a blessing when the plot is admittedly poor. Other times movie fans alike will be sorely disappointed but let’s be totally honest, the Salton Sea is impressively rated over at IMDb with 7.1/10. For a poor plot but with decent camera work and great locations.

And a surprisingly well acting Val Kilmer. Who also plays trumpet btw. Other than that, Danny Parker’s life is a beautiful cluster frak. Not as beautiful as a wild Tarantino but enjoyable nevertheless. Depending on your definition of enjoyable but I did say “cluster frak”, right.


The Salton Sea is a pulp movie. It was the era. It probably never would have made it onto my, and thus your, radar if not fitting in the “pulp cult” niche around Tarantino, Ritchie, early Nolan, and maybe even a splash of Aronofsky. Take the titles of those directors which immediately come to mind, find the lowest common denominator and you pretty much end up with “The Salton Sea”.

But that would short Vincent D’Onofrio’s Pooh-Bear performance though. D’Onofrio who previously excelled as Orson Welles in Burton’s “Ed Wood” could have used his role as Pooh-Bear as an unsolicited audition for the role of the Joker for an upcoming Batman movie. Thanks to his great acting the movie moves pretty much from “cluster frak” classification to “black comedy”.

Is It About Drugs

Yes, Danny Parker (Val Kilmer) is both methhead and meth-middleman. He operates in the world of “tweakers” and cops. Or somewhere in between, at least that’s where he himself would love to be but that would totally ruin any smallest sense of a plot, wouldn’t it?

Not that the plot really matters much here.

For the people who don't do drugs, or just do them occasionally, it's something that becomes your life, and you belong. You finally hit bottom and you know who you are, because you can't go any lower. When you find... a friendship that you wouldn't have found anywhere else. Still and all, there's a kind of intimacy with those that can go the distance. Sometimes you see the world so clearly... and you know just what to do, and just when to do it. Just what you should've done, and when you should've done it.
— Danny Parker

What The Critics Said About It

I already mentioned that IMDb rating is 7.1. At the same time Metascore rates the movie with a whopping 41. In other words, this one is a mixed bag, which is why I never bother with Rotten Tomatoes because Rotten Tomatoes itself is a mixed bag too.

So you will have to take my word for this movie. Maybe, complete with this tip: have a good joint beforehand because it truly is a mixed bag. Unless you’re a movie snob you won’t care about Roger Ebert’s 3/4 stars either.

Where’s The Sequel?

Whoa there!? I know I said that this is a great movie because it comes with a brilliant Val Kilmer performance but you should take that at face value. When I tell you Kilmer received an acting award for this, the 2003 Prism Award - Performance in a Theatrical Feature Film, then you will obviously ask “What award? Please come again.”

So let’s not go totally wild here. This ain’t Trainspotting we’re talking about. This is Val Kilmer. Slow down and let’s not get too excited.

Sequel? There’s no need for that. We’re not on meth here.

If anything, maybe time for a great documentary about the Salton Sea. That I could imagine, but a sequel to The Salton Sea... nobody needs that.

One More Thing

D’Onofrio’s Pooh-Bear is really good. Not Tony Hale’s Joker good but very good nevertheless.

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I have to say I don't think I have even watched this movie, Thanks for sharing this one bro, I will have to download and watch it now


I think you may like it. It’s entertainment though, nothing more nothing less. It can “be found” on YouTube btw.


O nice found on youtube is better than downloading it thanks,

I totally have seen this before. It was super weird but still good.


It does have some fun WTF moments.

Any Final Comments?


I share my experience and appreciation for a movie in the way I viewed it myself. Simple as that.

BÄMM! Nailed it. That's what I love about this post. Simple as that.


oh, not to mention the bautiful pictures from that movie