Night Visions – Hate Puppet (09/06/01)

nvhatepuppetAndy Harris (Chad Lowe) is walking and talking, but sadly this was not written by Aaron Sorkin, so he walks right into a wall of a Russian and falls to the ground.  The Russki has splashed cappuccino foam all over his face; or maybe, judging from the howl he lets out, he is rabid.[1]

Harris is a stand-up guy after he stands up, so apologizes.  He gets no response from the comrade other than the aforementioned howl.  He thinks maybe Ivan put a curse on him as people immediately begin treating him like shit.  His brother chews him out, a waitress is surly, and his boss reams him for being late to a meeting for the 3rd time in 2 years.  In an action that I would absolutely welcome, his boss ejects Harris from the meeting. Unfortunately, he also ejects him from the firm.

Walking home with an ex-bankers box under his arm, he inadvertently walks through a construction site.  One of the city workers blasts him for ignoring the cones, then shockingly takes a shovel to him; then a pipe grinder [2], making it his most productive morning in 10 years.  Harris barely manages to escape and find a cop.  The cop seems to already know the details of what happened.  He tells Harris that it is a scene from a book he read last week.

Harris goes into some sort of archaic bricks & mortar shop that sells books made of dead trees — the late-great Borders if I know my fonts (this was back when this country had two kinds of borders, heyooooo!).  He sees a video of author William Price reading from his book Hate Puppet — he is performing the scene with the commie.  He even uses Andy’s name and says that the man’s howl meant “You have filled me with hate, and so hate shall fill those around you.”

He finally makes it home and his wife Linda seems nice and normal . . . at first.  Amazingly, she saw the same book and purchased it because she noted the similar name and likeness to her husband.  He tries to grab it to see his fate (SPOILER), but she refuses to hand it over, and suddenly also turns against him.  I mean, really against him — pointing a gun at his melon.

He tries to explain that her anger and irrationality is being caused by the curse . . . no, the one issued by the Russian.  As she is about to fire, he wrestles her to the ground and she ends up being killed in the struggle.

Distraught, Harris takes the gun to William Price’s home and points it at him.  He goes all Annie Wilkes on him and demands that Price write a sequel that reverses everything that has happened today.  At gunpoint, Price begins typing as Harris dictates.  In the sequel, as per Harris, it was all a bad dream and his wife is still alive. Before he can get to the part about her having bigger boobs, the cops arrive, and Harris kills himself. Relating the tale to a bartender, Price says that Harris was just a crazy fan.

There is a switcheroo that is well-intentioned, but so so botched that I don’t even want to recap it.  OK, briefly:  the idea is that Harris’s plight has now descended on Price.  You would expect that the beats would be repeated, but tightened up.

  • In the bar, Price sees a commercial for a movie called Breakdown Lane which will be the theme of his ordeal.  Harris had no such harbinger.
  • He accidentally runs into another hulk of a man.  In his case the man does not lay a curse on him, but just walks away.
  • He has knocked out of the man’s hands a manuscript entitled Breakdown Lane. Nothing similar in Harris’s case.  Price reacts as if this is very ominous, instead of laughing and saying, “Dude, I just saw an ad for your movie!”
  • Driving home, his car stalls in front of poster for Breakdown Lane.  Getting even more meta than Harris.  More meta than a man from St. Ives.
  • He opens the hood of his car and stuffed into the battery is a page from the screenplay for Breakdown Lane.  What the hell?.

Price reads aloud, “If Price had heeded the radio he night not have made the acquaint-ance of the axe-wielding maniac standing behind him.”  OK, that’s pretty cool, but the idea of the parallel story just has crazy random differences.  Harris seemed to have free will, it just so happened that the book predicted his actions. Price seems to actually be stalked by Breakdown Lane; the forth wall is breached as it inserts itself into his reality. That could have been a good episode, it just isn’t a good fit here

So Breakdown Lane is a movie about a writer who is a character in that same movie who has written a book about a character that thinks he is a character in that same book.


  • [1] He also rent his garment, but I can’t compete with this guy.
  • [2] Well they called it a pipe grinder, but I had no idea what it was.  It didn’t look like any pipe grinder that Google found.
  • Only one picture in this post.  The visuals didn’t really grab me and the YouTube quality was awful.  Too bad . . . cuz them Lowe boys sure is purty.
  • There actually is a movie called Breakdown Lane, but I suspect you’d spend your time more wisely watching Breakdown.
  • Not relevant, but this aired 5 days before 9/11.

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