Sunday, February 7, 2010

Film Review: GUNCRAZY (1992, Tamra Davis)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 97 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Drew Barrymore, James LeGros, Ione Skye, Michael Ironside, Billy Drago, Joe Dallesandro, Tracey Walter. Written by Matthew Bright (FREEWAY, FORBIDDEN ZONE).
Tag-line: "Love made them crazy. Guns made them outlaws."
Best one-liner: "I kinda de-poisoned 'em with a potato scraper." or "Pee-Wee- dammit, you piece of shit!!" (Both said by Billy Drago.)

GUNCRAZY, a loose remake of the 1950 classic, is surprisingly solid. It takes place in that youthful, marginalized universe which the late 80's-early 90's knew so well (DRUGSTORE COWBOY, PRINCE OF PENNSYLVANIA, etc.). It's a denim-draped world where drifters live for that frenetic, ecstatic moment of stuffing a purloined Hostess pocket pie in their mouth, whole.

Tasty pocket pies are all they have to live for. (Is that a TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES pocket pie?)

A world where a dog in a mansion lives better than 90% of the population. A world where, oh you think you're so smart? Well, I've got the gun, and so long as I've got this gun, I'm smart, and YOU'RE stupid. Drew Barrymore plays a trailer-dwellin' teen with low self-esteem who's raped by her mom's boyfriend

(Warhol's own Joe Dallesandro!) and pseudo-consensually assaulted by half the student body (including a young n' weaselly Jeremy Davies!)- until she meets fresh-faced, gun-luvin' ex-con James LeGros. But he's not your garden-variety, pistol-packin' psycho: he's a woebegone boy, who, given the assortment of problems which he faces at any given time, simply finds the Gun to be the easiest solution. They kill not because they like it, but because they've put themselves in a position where they must. And despite it all, they find that unenviable, ruinous position- that 'freedom' in the eye of the whirlpool before being sucked down- to be a vast improvement over their former miseries.

Then we got two of my all-time favorites: Michael Ironside and Billy Drago.

Ironside plays a tough-as-nails parole officer who will not hesitate to call you "trash" and say your gal "puts out for anyone in pants."

Ironside tells it like it is, much to LeGros' dismay.

He also wears a lot of cardigans. Why Hollywood saw it fit to dress Ironside in shitloads of cardigans is truly a mystery for the ages.

Ironside surrenders to... cardigans.

And as a side note, ONLY in a movie could LeGros beat up Ironside.

I mean, seriously.

Ah, 1992. And Ione Skye is Ironside's daughter!

Then Drago plays a batshit crazy, endlessly lovable preacher.

He imparts the Gospel to a crowd of about 9 and he does it from his garage, but there's SNAKES! Oh yes, there are snakes.

Drago prepares to drape his congregation in snakes.

Amen! Four stars.

-Sean Gill


J.D. said...

Wow, Drago and Ironside in the same film?! To be honest, I haven't seen this film in ages so my memory's a little foggy on this one. Or maybe I purposely blocked out the image of Ironside in a cardigan. Thanks for that! heh.

Still, I always liked James LeGros and wished that he would get more starring roles like this. Loved him in that updating of Macbeth in the 1970s with Maura Tierney and that film he did with Diane Lane, MY NEW GUN (I believe).

Sean Gill said...

Drago managed to get himself some pretty schweet co-stars for a while- Clu Gulager in HUNTER'S BLOOD, Norris in HERO AND THE TERROR, INVASION USA, and DELTA FORCE 2, Grace Jones in VAMP, Eastwood & Moriarty in PALE RIDER... and, I'm not gonna lie- he basically steals this flick from Ironside (well, psychotic, snake-luvin' garage preacher kinda trumps tough as nails parole officer).

LeGros is somebody (like Jeff Fahey or Roy Scheider) who really should have caught on with the mainstream in a big way, but never realllly did. From PHANTASM II to DRUGSTORE COWBOY to even his role in the After School Special ACE HITS THE BIG TIME, I've always had a soft spot for LeGros. I've never seen SCOTLAND, PA or MY NEW GUN- I'll have to check em out. I've also been meaning to see FATAL BEAUTY (directed by Tom Holland) which stars Whoopi Goldberg, James LeGros, Sam Elliot, John P. Ryan, Brad Dourif, and Ruben Blades- wow.

J.D. said...

Ah, my fave Drago role is still his slimy turn in THE UNTOUCHABLES. I mean, he blows up a little girl fer chrissakes! It doesn't get much more badass than that. And, of course, his comeuppance is so richly deserved and awesome ta boot.

I couldn't agree more with ya on LeGros. He was pretty good in PHANTASM II and excellent in DRUGSTORE COWBOY - the first film that made me aware of him.

And for Jeff Fahey, it's great to see him enjoying a career resurgence with the one-two punch of PLANET TERROR and his recurring role on LOST. I always liked him and it's great to see him getting more work.

Jason said...

Is that pocket pie that LeGros is eating dyed green?!