Harlan Ellison is a TV writer (the original Star Trek series, The Outer Limits), sci-fi author (his 1967 short story I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream is among the most hauntingly horrific tales ever penned), and counter-culture icon. But, mostly, he’s just angry as hell. At one point in tonight’s documentary Dreams With Sharp Teeth (which is on the Sundance Channel at 9 p.m.), the scribe recalls the kind of advice he gives to fellow author Dan Simmons when the latter is having professional problems with someone. “He doesn’t want to know what he should do, he wants to know what I would do,” explains Ellison. “And I say, ‘Well, I’d get a garden hoe and I’d bury it in the motherf—er’s head.” Elsewhere, he derides the output of Tom Clancy and Judith Krantz as “crap” and essentially likens them to “things that live in Petri dishes.” The septuagenarian also compares death to “a salivating fan boy at a Star Trek convention, it’s just out of eyeshot but you know it’s there.”
In short, you probably wouldn’t want to be married to Harlan Ellison, a point that is proven when his long-suffering spouse recounts the occasion he locked her out of their house despite the fact that she was naked at the time. But his righteous indignation makes the author a fascinating and hugely entertaining documentary subject. Dreams With Sharp Teeth has no shortage of talking-head contributions from pals such as Robin Williams, Coraline scripter Neil Gaiman, and Battlestar Galactica overlord Ron Moore. But director Erik Nelson wisely devotes large chunks of his film to Ellison himself as he rages against the machine. And pretty much everything else.