Six short stories that explore the extremities of human behavior involving people in distress.
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During the campaign for reelection, the crooked politician Paul Madvig decides to clean up his past, refusing the support of the gangster Nick Varna and associating to the respectable reformist politician Ralph Henry. When Ralph’s son, Taylor Henry, a gambler and the lover of Paul’s sister Opal, is murdered, Paul’s right arm, Ed Beaumont, finds his body on the street. Nick uses the financial situation of The Observer to force the publisher Clyde Matthews to use the newspaper to raise the suspicion that Paul Madvig might have killed Taylor.
A group of people from different backgrounds have one thing in common: when they hear the world “gumball” whispered by one of the others, they know that it’s time for the Gumball Rally: a no-holds barred, secret, winner-take-all rally across the USA.
Precocious young Harriet (Evan Rachel Wood) lives with her much older sister, Gwen (Mary Stuart Masterson), at a New Hampshire motel owned by their mother (Cathy Moriarty), and dreams of a life beyond her neglectful family and stultifying town. When Ricky (Kevin Bacon), a mentally disabled man, stays at the motel, Harriet finds him to be kinder and more interesting than anyone she has ever known before. After tragedy strikes, Harriet and Ricky cling to each other ever more tightly.
Bob, an incompetent man, is searching for an available job by alphabetical order. He had just failed all of the A’s, and discovers an ad in the Yellow Pages for a butler school. He is the only one in the butler school course to pass, because all of the other people quit due to the embarrassment and pressure of the teacher. Meanwhile, Tess (Genevieve Buechner) and Bates (Benjamin B. Smith) Jamieson
Henry Jekyll is a troubled man. His wife died of pneumonia. He wants his sister-in-law, but her father forbids any contact. And his experiments into the dual nature of man have yielded a personality-splitting drug that he has tested on himself, changing him into an uninhibited brute who seeks violent and undignified pleasures. Jekyll quickly becomes addicted to the sordid freedom induced by the drug. He can commit the most enjoyably revolting deeds, then return to his laboratory and use an antidote to change back to his original form, so that his lofty persona remains untarnished.
Sheriff Rockwell is settling into an unwanted retirement until his old war buddy and neighboring Sheriff is mysteriously shot. When overlooked evidence points to corruption, Alden must take the investigation into his own hands or else standby while a greater evil takes over the town.
The celebration of the 50th anniversary of “Capitol-Insurance” is due – that’s what the bosses thought. All employees are invited to join the party in a hotel. However, rumors say the company’s not doing very well. To avoid unemployment due to the possible shutdown of the smaller branch office the only option is to move to the headquarters. Now that’s the ultimate challange for Stromberg, who is notoriously trying to be the example of a department manager, gathering all of his employees behind him.
After a young, middle class couple moves into a suburban ‘starter’ tract house, they become increasingly disturbed by a presence that may or may not be somehow demonic but is certainly most active in the middle of the night. Especially when they sleep. Or try to.