Straight to Hell

Straight to Hell (1987) movie poster

(1987) director Alex Cox
viewed: 01/16/11

A comic, Surrealist homage to the Spaghetti Western starring the likes of Joe Strummer, the Pogues, Elvis Costello, Courtney Love, Grace Jones, Dennis Hopper, and Jim Jarmusch.  All brought to you by director/co-writer Alex Cox (Repo Man (1984) & Sid and Nancy (1986)).  To think that such a film exists is enough argument to see the darn thing.  The flukey weirdness of its creation and existence is perhaps as unusual as the film itself.

Actually, it starts out like a story from which Quentin Tarantino probably glommed a considerable amount.  Three suited bank robbers (Strummer, Dick Rude and Sy Richardson) foul up a crime and then head into the desert with Richardson’s pregnant blond girlfriend (Love).  Which I suppose is Mexico, though it’s filmed in Spain.  They wind up at one of these proverbial ghost towns, which in actuality had been created for a Charles Bronson Spaghetti Western, where they meet the local outlaws/town heads, whose henchmen are the Pogues in Mariachi costumes.  And they drink coffee maniacally.

There is a lot more nonsense than sense throughout, but riffing loosely on the themes and standbys of the genre, it’s entertaining nonsense.  Some of the humor works better than others, and while several actors return from Cox’s earlier and more successful Repo Man, you can almost imagine what this is striving for in the times when it flails more than succeeds.

Of course it all ends in the inevitable shoot-out in which most of the principals are killed.  But beyond that, the film has a wacky spirit, and more than anything, a great cult cast.  It’s really kind of fun and a little better than I’d anticipated.

A welcome anomaly.

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