Friday, January 1, 2016

mack the knife.

Caught up with this on it's limited release after it closed Fantastic Fest in Austin (thanks Colin).

No idea why I'm bothering writing anything except 'see it now' because it's frankly magnificent but heyho I get paid by the word.


And a happy 2016 by the way.....

Bone Tomahawk (2015).
Dir: Steven Craig Zahler.
Cast: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins, Lili Simmons,
David Arquette and Sid Haig.

It's the dust covered and shite smelling 'old' west in the arse end of the 1890s where robbery obsessed double act Arch Hall and Warren Oates (Arquette and Haig) are planning a well deserved break after a busy month of attacking and killing any travellers they come across on the western plains.

Unfortunately (especially those looking forward to dear old Sid taking a lead role) the pair are themselves attacked by assailants unseen.

Oates is killed but a terrified Hall manages to escape to the nearby town of Pensnett-on-the-Plains where he hides himself in the local saloon.

Not being local tho' (and stinking of piss) it's not long before his presence (and odour) comes to the attention of the local Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Russell, no introduction necessary) and his forgetful "Back Up Deputy" Chicory Tip (Jenkins) who shoots him in the leg to stop him leaving without paying his bar tab.

Oh OK then, it's because Chicory saw him burying a stash of bloodstained clothes under a bush.

And they say Govan is rough.

Taking him to the jail (but not alas up the casino) Hunt calls on local doctors assistant Samantha O'Dwyer (Simmons, daughter of Richard) for help, partly to give her a break from looking after her invalid husband Arthur (father of Owen and Luke, Patrick) who's recuperating after breaking his leg falling off the roof trying to adjust the aerial in order to get unscrambled porn but mainly because the town doctor is a drunk who never leaves his house.

Escorted by local sexy man, the mightily moustached John Brooder (Fox), O'Dwyer prepares to spend the night mopping Hall's sweaty brow whilst the menfolk catch up on their sleep.

Don't hustle the Russell.

The next morning Hunt and co. are surprised to find that the town has been attacked by persons unknown resulting in not only the death of a stable boy (as opposed to an unstable girl) and some horses but the abduction of  O'Dwyer, Hall and the young deputy Nick.

Which is nice.

Wearing his best investigating hat (in a change from his Snake Plissken eyepatch or MacReady stick-on beard) Hunt soon discovers a strange arrow embedded in a nearby post.

The wooden type not an internet one obviously.

Assembling a meeting at the pub, the towns very own Native American, known as The Professor, tells those gathered that the arrow belongs to a scary group of primitive Native Americans called 'Troglodytes'.

These cannibalistic cave dwellers are feared by all 'true' Native Americans due to their extreme savagery and love of buttock revealing loin cloths.

Imagine a dirtier, more broken toothed type of Brummie with a lower IQ and you're halfway there.

Hunt, being the heroic type - and being Kurt Russell obviously, decides to organise a rescue mission - against The Professor's advice - and assembles a party to track the Trogs back to their caves.

Not too surprisingly Mr. O'Dwyer insists on joining them despite his gammy leg as does the loyal Chicory and the enigmatic Brooder - who feels responsible as he escorted Samantha that fateful night.

Turns out that Brooder has had run ins with the natives before, killing quite a few in the process and feels that this more than qualifies him for the mission.

Plus he was Racer X in Speed Racer so who are we to argue?

"I can see your house from here Peter!"

The fantastic foursome soon depart into the wilds and as tempers fray and the heat rises are soon bickering between them, Brooder especially seems to revel in the antagonism he causes with in group.

As the band head deeper into the unknown the brave men must deal not only with their own fears and prejudices but with the very idea of their own mortality.

Oh yeah and a band of big toothed bone crunching cannibals just over the horizon.

Reminiscent of both Joe R Lansdale's stint on Jonah Hex for Vertigo back in the 90's and JT Petty's magnificent The Burrowers, Steven Craig Zahler's directorial debut is as near to cinematic perfection as you can find.

Perfectly cast, beautifully shot and as lean as Kurt's facial hair is fancy, Bone Tomahawk is an instant classic and why it hasn't had a wider - oh go on any - release beyond VOD is a mystery worthy of a movie itself.

But enough bitching and more raving.

As previously mentioned (just go back and check the cast list), the casting director for this deserves a special award himself for managing to get such a stellar band of actors together (and that's not including the likes of Michael Pare, Fred Melamed, Sean Young and more in cameo roles) but it’s Zahler’s almost poetic script with it's this tight and taunt dialogue alongside his confident, unflashy direction and almost funeral pacing that really brings home the horror of the groups situation as the whole thing builds toward a darkly intense (and incredibly violent) final act. 

Do whatever you have to to see this, then buy a copy for your nearest and dearest before getting them to do the same.

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