Director: John Mark Robinson
Starring: C Thomas Howell, Sarah Trigger, Brian Austin Green, R Lee Emey, Dale Dye, Michael Bowen, Michael Cavanaugh. USA. 1h 31m
If Chilling Revenge Western were a genre then this would be its definition, and despite the heat of the blistering desert, John Robinsons thriller only takes about 20 minutes to get to the first death, he really wasn’t messing around. After beating up some local bullies and getting the attention of the hottest girl in town the tall dark handsome stranger (Howell) rents a room and goes to the local hardware store, picking up some weird supplies, the clerk asks him “do much huntin’?” The Kid replies.. Thinking about startin” and we’re off to the first kill, the one that still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
It’s not just a matter of getting revenge, if it were that simple the stranger would turn up, go through his kill list and leave but instead Robinson seems to want to spin our moral compass a little, through flashbacks he slowly reveals tiny bits of information from the past, the run up to what to the cold spate of killings that we witness, and for he most part no matter how brutal, none of them are gory in anyway, but you get the idea brutality and that’s enough. The film isn’t meant to gross anyone out it’s meant to be justified.
The town isn’t full of bad guys who need to be wiped off the face of the earth, there are some decent people around, a young girl, Kate (Trigger) and her energetic brother (Metal) Louis (Green) seem to exist without being corrupted by the evil that twitches behind the curtains, but there are a couple of teenage dirt bags who like to wreck the local store and make a nuisance of themselves, they remind me of the douchebags in the Creepshow 2 (1987) Woodenhead segment. Kate is supposed to be some kind of romance element but Robinson also didn’t want to make overly sensual and the affair is nothing more than doe eyed flirting which turns into mutual respect, which was something really unusual for the 90s, any reason for some smut it was readily chucked it as sex sells.
“Do you believe in the bogeyman?”
Usually these movies where someone has to get a group of shit heads under control, the shit heads either all have some special skills like Kung Fu Killer (2014) so the righteous one has to adapt to each person, or they get progressively harder to kill like an action based beat em ups like Chocolate (2008) or Headshot (2016) but even though things get tougher for the “Kid” who really doesn’t have a name, I found that it tends to get more emotional than physically tough and the most impressive bad ass he has to fight with is R Lee Emey, who, with his iconic docile tones really comes across in his average hard ass way, a formidable enemy who has no fear in that steely eyed glare that he’s perfected over the years.
Robinson only made three movies in his time as a director, he acted in many more, but it’s such a shame as this does seem to have a small but active fan base, previously to this Western styled classic, he made a comedy Roadhouse 66 (1984), then shortly afterwards, All Tied up (1993) that went direct to video, Kid still remains the better made anomaly, a better written story goes a long way but he certainly had a chance to perfect this signature, it’s slightly overused near the end of the movie, after the big reveal and the last plot twist, but there’s a few moments which he slows down the scene and there’s some kind of symbolic gesture, a hand on a gun, some emotive music then it speeds up again to normal time, feels a bit like a Clannad music video but it does work, you just have to be in the mood maybe, or it’s something which didn’t age too well with the movie after all these years…
“Dude you look like you just got banged by the dick of doom”
One this is for certain, the film is still a top contender for me, something I think I will cherish for a long time and hopefully it will see a DVD release sometime soon? Because with all it’s cultural references, overtones of feminism and ability to tell a wholesome revenge story without overloading it’s audience with an after taste of video nasty it’s such a great film experience which is rare no matter which genre is settles into.
R: No Country for Old Men (2007), Hitcher (1986)
L: Revenge Films, Death in the Desert,
5s: C Thomas Howell, R Lee Emey, Michael Bowen, Michael Cavanaugh