Πέμπτη, 20 Αυγούστου 2009

INTO THE BADLANDS (1991, Sam Pillsbury)


I love finding offbeat half-forgotten gems where I wouldn't think to look for them. And I wouldn't think to look for them in the 90's because it's generally a pretty bad decade for westerns and certainly not in the field of made-for-TV horror western hybrids because most of their kind wield their western part as an exotic backdrop against which are played the same generic horror cliches. And I love offbeat gems even more when they're rough and unpolished and full of flaws. Everyone can love a masterpiece but it takes a little something to love a movie like INTO THE BADLANDS. A lot of the dialogue is awfully stilted, characters seem like they're reading verse from a page, the love story between outlaw on the run and worldweary whore in the first segment is produced on demand, the grey paint slapped on the faces of the saloon patrons on the last segment that makes them look like zombies adds a needless horror hijink too literal and cheesy it almost detracts from the actual menacing situation. And yet through all this rides Bruce Dern in his ghostly cart, the blackclad Bounty Hunter tying together the three segments of this anthology. And with him comes a love for vivid colors, cool blues and hot yellows, and fluid camerawork; a love of stylization as an end in itself; a love for pure western iconography (for eerie ghost towns and strange horsemen riding into town and open prairies and funerals in small weedy graveyards) and gothic atmosphere galore; an affection for old EC Comics style supernatural twists. All this geared not towards a realistic gritty western but a cinematic gothic horror fable that takes place in the Old West.

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