I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

The Horseman

tn_horsemanTHE HORSEMAN is an Australian revenge picture out on DVD in the U.S. today. At the start this guy’s daughter has already died of a heroin overdose just after filming a porno. It’s a low budget deal shot in a boxing gym – she’s not a Vivid girl or nothing. He doesn’t really know what happened but he blames the porn people for her death, so he’s tracking down everybody involved, burning them alive, etc. horse-costumeHe’s disguised with his pest control gear, so I guess his victims aren’t creeps or punks in this one, they’re pests. Too bad THE EXTERMINATOR was already taken, that would’ve been a more fitting title than THE HORSEMAN. Since he doesn’t ride a horse, wear a horse-themed super hero costume, work with horses or train them to fuck these guys to death Enumclaw style I assume the title must be a Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse thing, or Australian slang for an overprotective father. If it’s the first one it’s a little pretentious.

This movie didn’t make me think about the morality of revenge so much as it made me think about the morality of enjoying revenge movies. I mean, I liked the DEATH WISH movies, all five of them. I liked THE EXECUTIONER and THE EXTERMINATOR. I even liked the revenge part of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE after enduring the first, less likable part. But somehow some of these modern ones like this, HARRY BROWN and DEAD MAN’S SHOES seem a little too sadistic to me. A little too self righteous. I kind of feel like I’m supposed to feel happy about these guys being tortured and dying, but I just feel kind of depressed.

I think maybe it comes down to how seriously I take the movies. DEATH WISH 3 may be meant every bit as seriously as THE HORSEMAN. I doubt it, but let’s say it is. Well, I don’t take it as seriously. It’s a cartoon. Larger than life villains getting blown through the side of a building with a bazooka, because they murdered his loved ones. But the pests in THE HORSEMAN aren’t exaggerated villains, they’re these regular seeming guys who don’t think they did anything wrong (some of them did no more than be in a porn video) crying and begging for their lives. DEATH WISH is based on westerns, with chases and shootouts staged for suspense and thrills. THE HORSEMAN is shakycam sloppy, staged to seem real. The fights are messy and brutal, not cool.

mp_horsemanThis brings up the question of whether an ugly, unpleasant revenge movie is better than a cool, enjoyable one, because it’s not cleaning up and glamourizing vigilante murder. It’s not Hollywooding it up. It may or may not side with the avenging horseman, but it doesn’t make him look Charles Bronson awesome. Well, I think that’s a legit point of view morally, but a weak one cinematically. Because I don’t know about you guys, but I already got the message that revenge lowers you to their level a long time ago. I got it from the first DEATH WISH. I got it from two of Wes Craven’s movies and one of their remakes. I got it from DEATH SENTENCE. But most of these were able to get the message across while feeling more like an entertaining story and less like a punishment for something I didn’t even do yet. Not that THE HORSEMAN seems preachy at all. I’m just giving it the benefit of the doubt, assuming this stuff is supposed to be disturbing and not cool. Because if it’s supposed to be fun escapism somebody fucked up.

In fact it makes me reconsider that question about whether or not Bronson was miscast in DEATH WISH. Of course Bronson as a liberal architect is a bit of a stretch, and in the book he’s supposed to be the last guy you’d expect to kill a motherfucker. Bronson is definitely not the last one. He would be in the top three guys you’d expect, I think. And there’s that story about how Sidney Lumet almost did DEATH WISH as a black and white art movie starring Jack Lemmon. Could’ve been amazing. Brian Garfield, the author of the book, thought Bronson was horribly miscast, not believable.

But as I’m watching these gloomy no-fun-allowed, rubbing-your-nose-in-it vigilante/revenge pictures I’m thinking shit, maybe the unbelievability is part of what I like about it. Maybe if it was a weakling feeling empowered by murder it would only emphasize the ickiness of the concept and play down the awesomeness. Kevin Bacon was more fitting as a regular dad getting pushed into murder in DEATH SENTENCE, but his victims were as far-fetched as in any DEATH WISH. Cartoon punks with silly tattoos and John Goodman with a ridiculous accent. I don’t know, I’m thinking maybe I need that for it to work.

But after an hour in THE HORSEMAN gets away from the revenge formula, mixes it up a little. That’s when it gets more interesting. Most of the movie has been told in flashback while he gives a ride to this teenage runaway. (SPOILERS comin up.) I started worrying he was using this girl as bait for the porn guys or that her friend she’s going to meet is somebody he’s after. Instead he just has a sweet moment giving her advice. It seems to help her, and that seems to help him. He seems to decide to end his revenge spree. He’s gotten a reasonable amount of revenge and doesn’t want to overindulge. And then he gets pulled over.

This is a good moment because for a minute anyway it destroys any illusion of him being a righteous horseman. No, he’s a maniac wanted for six murders. You see him through the girl’s eyes now as she’s hearing this. After that it goes off in other directions that are arguably less interesting, but at least the setup changes. Now instead of avenging someone who died he’s protecting someone who’s alive. Also something ambiguous happens that makes it seem like it’s gonna turn into DEATH WISH 2 before it’s even finished with part 1.

So it’s a pretty interesting movie and it’s a well made one by a young rookie director. But you Australians do me a favor and keep your youngster directors in line. You have a grand tradition of powerful filmatism. You make movies with energy but without spazzing out. You got your George Miller of course, your Richard Franklin, your transplanted Brian Trenchard-Smith when he’s on good behavior, your early Russell Mulcahy. Their lessons have passed on to newer directors like Greg McLean and probly Andrew Dominik, but maybe not this Steven Kastrissios. Believe me Australia, you don’t need to go down our road and have a bunch of young dudes with handheld cameras fucking it all up for everybody with this “it’s not important to use the art and language of cinema because it’s more realistic if the camera wobbles around and nobody can tell what the fuck is going on.” Fuck realism. Make movies. If you can’t do that I’m sending you to the outback to make you beat up a kangaroo and get fondled by Donald Pleasance.

Nobody needs to suffer that fate. The choice is yours. I believe in you, Australia.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 at 1:08 am and is filed under Crime, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

73 Responses to “The Horseman”

  1. Vern – I think the real question you should asking instead is, do you want to enjoy these killings or not?

  2. Isn’t that pretty much what I said?

  3. Y’know, I would be the first guy to buy a shirt with a “Fuck realism, make movies!” print on it.

  4. Vern – Have you seen Sidney Lumets THE OFFENCE (1973) with Sean Connery? I think it’s a fascinating movie. More character study than revenge movie, very dark, complex and intense. After watching THE OFFENCE I think Sidney Lumets DEATH WISH could have been awesome, especially with Jack Lemmon in the leading role.

  5. I really hate the idea these movies often have that killing killers makes you the same as them, that’s bullshit. Killers kill innocent people, killing them means you’ve killed someone who kills innocent people therefore society benefits.

  6. Vern – More like you want a cartoon cartoon than a cartoon not exactly a cartoon. All these revenge movies are cartoons, just some more obvious (and honest?) about what they are than others care to admit.

    How would GRAN TORINO work in your paradigm? Does it or is it seperate on its own thing? Hell what about Clint’s other “taking justice literally” movies like the DIRTY HARRY series or HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER or PALE RIDER, the latter basically a more arty somewhat “serious” retake on DRIFTER.

    Sure that isn’t the same thing as a revenge picture, but if I remember right DEAD POOL was pretty ridiculous, much more so than DIRTY HARRY. Yet you loved HARRY, and POOL not exactly as much.

    Just wondering the differences. This topic of yours intrigues me.

  7. I think realism is an inherently foolish thing to pursue in movies

    I mean movies are an inherently unrealistic art form

    I think Stanley Kubrick realized this and hence why all his movie have a very surrealistic feel to them, even Full Metal Jacket has a very subtle surrealistic feel

  8. of course not EVERY movie can feel like a dream

    but I do think one can go overboard in trying to make a movie too realistic

  9. »This brings up the question of whether an ugly, unpleasant revenge movie is better than a cool, enjoyable one, because it’s not cleaning up and glamourizing vigilante murder.«
    I can enjoy a revenge movie, ugly and unpleasant or cool and enjoyable. My problem starts when they not only aks me to enjoy a revenge movie (basically a western with an apology for breaking the moral rules of modern society), but when they expect me to enjoy endless scenes of sadism, torture and humilation in their pseudo-complex exploitation flicks.

  10. Two words: ROLLING THUNDER.

  11. Two more: Death Sentence

  12. Fortress is my favorite revenge movie. I haven’t seen it since I was a kid but god damn I still remember those masks…..

  13. I must have missed something in Dead Man’s Shoes because in that movie you were definitely supposed to feel bad for the victims, not the crazy guy hacking them up with axes and etc. That’s why the movie takes place almost entirely from the perspective of the gang, and why it’s such a brilliant move to end that movie the way they do. It may be sadistic, but it’s not trying to wallow or celebrate the violence like Harry Brown or something.

  14. Jareth Cutestory

    June 15th, 2010 at 6:53 am

    I had the same feeling when I saw that recent Travolta film set in Paris. It’s not unlike a lot of stuff I remember from the 1980s, with the crucial distinction that the film’s message – “due process and civil liberties are for pussies” – was shot in the Bourne style, with no villains per se, just casualties. The Travolta character was near-psychotic, but just shy of being a cartoon, and the film obviously wanted the viewer to uncritically validate his conduct in the film.

    There’s something about this “realistic” shotting style and commitment to
    “real world” locations that begs a more serious discussion of the subtext of these films. The films themselves, however, often fail to offer any new insights into the xenophobic, misogynistic action tropes that have been circulating for years. It all results in an unpleasant experience.

    Also, Travolta has to stop pretending to be black. It’s embarassing.

  15. FROM PARIS WITH LOVE was begging for Nic Cage, but we were stuck with Travolta’s leftover Cage impression from FACE/OFF. Except for a few inspired touches (the vase of coke, for instance) that movie was a real letdown. I expect more from my trashy French action truffles.

  16. Blarg sounds like someone who’s never killed anyone before.

    I would disagree with Griff on the realism thing. I prefer modern movies with more realistic acting as opposed to the ones in the 50s where people overspeak their lines as if they’re on stage. Christopher Nolan could have made a stylized Batman movie but he went for a more realistic tone and made a good one instead. Like Vern says, a lot of directors confuse shaky camera work with realism but that’s not rally the case, you can make a realistic movie with tripods, like Goodfellas.

  17. By the way, I know Vern already reviewed Rolling Thunder. But it’s worth mentioning in all discussions of revenge movies. Especially in the way that it seems to bridge the “fun fantasy revenge” and the “grim, ugly, makes you a killer” revenge sub-genres he cites.

  18. Speaking of movies that no doubt explore the many subtle ways in which violent vengeance dehumanizes both parties, has anyone seen Stone Cold Steve Austin’s new revenge flick THE STRANGER?

  19. Jareth Cutestory

    June 15th, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Majestyk: Half way through SHUTTER ISLAND I started imagining the choices Cage would have made if he was playing the lead role. The film got much better after that.

  20. Cage is the hot sauce of cinema. When your movie’s a little bland, you just sprinkle some on top and BAM!

    So help me, I may go see SORCERER’S APPRENTICE.

  21. I thought From Paris with Love was fucking great. Whether or not you agree with it’s politics, it never once pulls it punches, unlike 24 (which is, admittedly, better written). On it’s own terms, as a trashy action picture, it might be one of the most genuinely edgy movies about the “war on terror” made since Team America: World Police. And it also follows my theory that all “war on terror” movies will – whether they want to or not – use Team America’s “dicks, pussies, and assholes” paradigm – for example, The Dark Knight: Batman (dick), The Joker (asshole), the citizens of Gotham (pussies).

  22. Do it Majestyk, I plan on it as well.

    But really man, I’m thinking the ultimate Mega Cage acting will be dropped upon us like a nuclear warhead come February 2011 when DRIVE ANGRY hits the cinemas.

    http://ramascreen.com/drive-angry-synopsis/

    In Cage We Trust.

  23. DRIVE ANGRY is one of my most eagerly anticipated post-EXPENDABLES releases. Car chases, Satanists, and Cage in prison again? In 3-D? Fuck the fuck yeah.

  24. Speaking of the world’s foremost mega-actor:

    http://wonder-tonic.com/cageflix/

    Let’s see any other actor inspire this kind of half-ironic/half-earnest devotion.

  25. Yup, that’s the shit right there.

  26. Jareth Cutestory

    June 15th, 2010 at 10:27 am

    Cage. Verhoeven. Why hasn’t this happened yet?

  27. Because there is a God, and He is a mean fucker.

  28. Jareth Cutestory – Actually I think Travolta was playing the “Ugly American” stereotype to a ridiculous hyperbole ceiling. Mocks the French authorities with losing WW2 and the whole pussy stereotype, ultra violet, rude, all that. Considering it was a French production, that’s enough proof for me.

    FROM PARIS WITH LOVE was decent. Disposable, but sure beats OLD DOGS.

  29. RRA: The problem with Travolta’s performance wasn’t that he was playing the ugly American. It was that he was playing the unfunny American. The cringe-worthy American. The referencing-his-old-roles-that-were-way-better-than-this-one American.

  30. Pauline Kael, who I’m not really a fan of, once wrote something about that whole shakey-cam docurealism style that struck me as so on the money that I’m just going to quote it here:

    “A searching, close-in documentary technique can sometimes provide glimpses of the riches of people’s interior lives, but it is rarely effective with actors: their controls are exposed, and we become more conscious of their acting than in a conventionally dramatized work. The idea here seems to be that what the writer has failed to provide, the camera will somehow probe. But since the characters have noting to yield up, it probes superficiality.”

    That’s from her review of Lenny, but the movie it most made think of when I read it was actually Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings.

  31. Jareth Cutestory

    June 15th, 2010 at 11:50 am

    RRA: I think FROM PARIS WITH LOVE is quite clearly setting up the thesis that Travolta’s
    character is a positive thing to aspire to, both as an individual and as a nation. The Rhyes-Meyers character’s
    misgivings about Travolta and his methods are quickly proven to be wimpy and misplaced,
    and not once does the entire administrative organization waver in its support of Travolta’s methods. Travolta’s character gets to
    unapologetically kill a bunch of brown people without bothering to question them and suffer no consequeces; in fact, his favorable reputation is based on a long history of such thuggish conduct. And as a bonus he saves Rhyes-Meyers from making the crucial mistake of committing to a woman.

    I’ve been in Paris often enough over the years to know that there is a desire among some people there to adopt American values, particularly the more agressive, imperialistic values reminicient of France’s colonial heyday. I think this film is an unironic expression of that sentiment.

    But like I said, this sort of message is not new to action films. It’s this particular film’s insistence that we see it as “real” that makes it so objectionable to me. And also Travolta pretending to be black. That’s just silly.

  32. I can see how the subtext of FPWL could yield some interesting discussion, but unfortunately Travolta’s nails-on-a-chalkboard performance, the lack of imaginative action, and the sudden swerve into melodrama pretty much killed the movie for me. It’s hard to care about what’s going on under the surface when the surface itself is so lame.

  33. Jareth Cutestory – I thought it was more your basic comedy of contrasts formula. The wimply metrosexual polite nice guy office worker and the macho rude “badass” operative. Yes we’re supposed to side with them, but not necessarily agree with Travolta’s behavior. I mean that whole complaint could be used on most movies. I mean how dare STAR WARS (original version) make us side with han Solo for killing that green dude without provocation.

    Also what exactly is “real” in FROM PARIS? Its a cartoon, like most Besson-produced actioneers. No more or less than that Transporter fellow or TAKEN. OK I guess TAKEN is more realistic than those others, but that doesn’t make it real.

    And for the record, I do agree with your assessment on France. For some alot of Europe is going fucking insane. While they are progressive in say gay rights, they’re simultaneously regressive in racial relations to Africans and Arabs. The gains by those right-wing wankers in Belgium the other day who somehow found a way to make Arizona come off as more liberal and tolerant almost makes me wonder if anyone ever fucking learns anything from history.

  34. Mr. Majestyk – But its WACKY! Its RIDICULOUS! its your guys sort of thing. Here’s your spoon.

  35. Jareth Cutestory

    June 15th, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Majestyk: That “lack of imaginative action” that you describe is exactly why my attention wandered to the film’s subtext. Say what you want about the second MATRIX film, but I haven’t seen a highway chase half as good as that one.

    And the film itself has no interest in having a discussion of the finer points of law enforcement in the age of terrorism. I figure a.) the script is truly embodying the “America: might is right” mentality by refusing to acknowledge an opposing voice, or b.) the subtext was an unanticipated result of shoe-horning a conventional action script into a Bourne-like style.

    RRA: I agree they were trying to play the comedy of opposites routine, but the Rhyes-Meyer character is basically told told throughout the film to get over his normal attachments to family and morality and become a goon. I mean, Harrison Ford was amoral in STAR WARS, but he changed into something more sympathetic after frolicking with those teddy bear guys or
    whatever. All FPWL told us was that Travolta was right all along.

    And I agree with your excellent point that the film isn’t “real.” But there are degrees to which a film’s style with attempt to signify “real.” TRUE LIES, for example, which offers utterly objectionable stereotypes of “terrorists” and women, more clearly tells us through it’s style that it is a fantasy.

    But yeah, I’ve written way to much about a middling Travolta vehicle.

  36. It pains me, RRA, that you have such a low opinion of ridiculousness. Ridiculousness is not an absolute. There are levels, degrees, shades, varieties, flavors, classes, and calibers. FPWL’s ridiculousness was very weak sauce indeed. Calculated, desperate, and possessed of no genuine depravity, insanity, or retardedness, it felt like a normal movie trying to be zany by wearing a lampshade on its head.

  37. Wasn’t COMMANDO calculated? Unless Mark L. Lester was truely that vapid….

    Wait he might have been.

    “you have such a low opinion of ridiculousness.”

    About time we got some standards stated on this so-called Ridiculousness.

  38. But COMMANDO was never desperate. Lester kept his cool and let the ridiculousness come to him. He didn’t go running around willy nilly chasing after it.

    If you truly love ridiculousness, set it free. If it doesn’t comes back to you, it was never meant to be.

    Translation: Never, ever hire John Travolta to be a wacky badass unless you’re 100% sure you can contain him.

  39. Hey dieselboy, thanks for the shout out for Fortress! I wasn’t sure if anyone even knew about that movie (your talking about the Australian one, right? Not the Christopher Lambert future prison on an island or whatever?) I’ve been going insane trying to find a copy of it somewhere, but no luck. All I’ve got is my shitty VHS I taped off HBO a million years ago. That movie has one of my all time favorite ending shots (the jars in the school house). I considerate it more of a survival film rather than a revenge film, though those kids didn’t fuck around at the end. Brilliant fucking movie.

  40. Mr. M – What exactly is your definition of “desperate”?

    And correct me but you slapped ridiculousness when its calculated, yet then say never hire Travolta to be wacky badass unless he can be “contained.”

    I’m….I’m sorta about confused. Can you explain that?

  41. Perhaps “contained” is not the right word. “Focused” might be a better one. Yes, saying “motherfucker” like a gangsta rapper again and again is wacky, but it’s also lame. It’s trying too fuckin’ hard, and a director with an actual sense of humor would know that.

    That’s where the calculation comes in. They know that this character is supposed to be ridiculous, but they go about making him so in the most contrived and unnatural way possible. It’s all “Look at how wacky I’m being! I talk in an accent that is not my own!” Nicolas Cage, however, IS wacky. He doesn’t need to try to be. He’d have brought some genuine madness to that role, not just a bunch of hammy tics.

  42. Jareth Cutestory

    June 15th, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Mr. Majestyk: In all sincerity, I ask you:

    – Is DESPERADO too ridiculous for its own good?
    – Would SPEED have been better if it was more retarded?
    – Is Chow-Yun Fat ridiculous-proof?

  43. You know what? I went to FPWL wanting ridiculousness, and I got it, but it wasn’t a very good brand of ridiculousness. Like I said, ridiculousness is not an absolute. You can do things that are solid in theory, but if you get the mixture wrong it’ll blow up in your face. Ridiculousness is like crystal meth in that respect.

    I think Travolta really fucked up the movie. His role was not only the centerpiece, it was the whole plot: “Mild-mannered guy gets into adventures with KA-raaazy spy guy.” But Travolta wasn’t badass or funny or legitimately crazy. It felt like sitcom crazy: safe and stagy. Sunk the whole fucking movie.

    To answer your questions:

    DESPERADO occasionally gets too ridiculous, but at the center of it all is a legitimate badass. Like COMMANDO, this makes all the difference. Can you imagine if Arnold had started making funny faces and doing goofy reaction shots? This is also why Chow Yun Fat is almost always ridiculous-proof. Everything around him can get ridiculous, but he refuses to participate. He is a pillar of cool in a storm of wacky.

    SPEED never acknowledges its own ridiculousness, which is always a good tactic. This is what I mean by letting the ridiculousness come to you. Ridiculousness is like a bus with a bomb on it. Don’t go chasing after it, because even if you do catch it, it will explode.

    But really, all of these “rules” can be broken by the right personnel. Sam Raimi gets away with shit I would never let anyone else do. You just have to find the style of ridiculousness that works for you.

  44. A little gratuitous violence once in a while is nice. I agree with vern, over the top is a bit easier of a pill to swallow. I kinda don’t want to watch anything that could happen to me. So i won’t be getting hopped up on heroin and getting abused by porn guys, walking willy nilly through a gangbanger infested getto, or sleeping at any youth hostels in Bratislava.

  45. Jareth Cutestory

    June 15th, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    You’re a true poet of the ridiculous, Majestyk. I might have enjoyed MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN if I had gone into it with your refined sensibilities.

  46. MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN is a little bit too unridiculous for its own good, but when Ted Raimi’s eyeball pops out, it’s all worth it.

  47. Speaking of the Raimis, why the fuck is Sam directing this Wizard of Oz movie? He finally gets himself out of his indentured servitude to one franchise and now he willingly lets himself get wifed up to another one? Is he trying to be the new Tim Burton or something?

  48. i’m surprised with all this From Paris with Love/Cage talk no one has blurted out…

    WELL VIVA FUCKIN’ FRANCE MAN!

  49. Oz sounds like the most boring thing Rami could do. So off course it’s green-lit. His Shadow revamp would be preferable to another version of Oz.

  50. i want to give Majestyk a little pat on the back. buddy, you’re on the ball.

  51. Thanks, dan. That means a lot. It might actually be getting a little dusty in here right now.

  52. Mr. Majestyk, I just want to second your essay on From Paris With Love. You are 1000% correct about that movie and why it totally doesn’t work. The political subtext really pissed me off for the reasons mentioned above, and Travolta’s craziness felt totally fake and safe, you’re right.

  53. I take no credit for the political discussion, but thanks, bullet.

  54. Darth Irritable

    June 15th, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    I’m guessing horseman has something to do with horse being slang for heroin…

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=horse

  55. I think a revenge movie works better when you agree with the one getting revenge, complicating things can make the movie smarter but seems difficult for most movies to pull off correctly. A simple good guy / bad guy approach is best.

  56. I wondered why I hadn’t heard anything about this film, so I looked it up and it STILL hasn’t been released over here in Australia either theatrically or on DVD. That’s bullshit.

  57. Right on target as usual, Majestyk. The “lampshade-as-hat” metaphor in particular.

  58. Majestyk,

    I think you hit the nail on the head about the ridiculousness. I think the less the film acknowledges it the better. A stupid one liner needs to be read deapan serious for the humour to work. A good actor finds emotional truth in their material. When an actor can find it and portray it even when the material is ridiculous, that is when it’s magic.

    And don’t watch The Stranger unless you’re interested in seing the same flashbacks looped a thousand times to draw out running time.

  59. So the shot of the dude in the horse costume is not actually in the film? Bummer.

    I thought maybe he used to dress up like that to make his daughter laugh, and he keeps having flashbacks to it. Shot in Super-8, of course. And then maybe he wears it as he dispatches the final slimeball, the head of the evil porn ring. At the end of the film he takes off the mask and throws it on a bonfire and we see a single tear rolling down his cheek…

  60. Frank – you guessed right about flashbacks being done as super-8 home movies, though. Just without the creepy horse costume.

  61. Zeke, you can get Fortress on Netflix. Yeah, that’s a good one!

    I think saying a revenge movie is best when it’s more simple is true a lot of times, but there’s so much leeway and sometimes I like seeing an interesting story that maybe I can’t quite figure out after twenty minutes. It’s easy to say suspense thrillers work best when it’s good guy vs bad guy but when Scorsese made Cape Fear he really let the family be complicated, it’s wasn’t black and white, that’s why it’s a great movie instead of a fun dumb one.

  62. So has there already been a film which is specifically told from the perspective of a gang of some sort, who are being attacked by some “psycho”… where we see everything from the gangs point-of-view? During the first two acts, it would appear that the gang are the good guys (who we get to know intimately – where as the psycho killing them is far more enigmatic), but then the end of act 2 twist reveals that the gang are in fact the “psychos” and the dude hunting them is the hero, not the villain; a man who is exacting revenge for some crime they committed against him?

    Because that would be kinda interesting.

  63. Sounds like a screenplay waiting to be written, get on it.

  64. Jones, I agree with you actually, I just meant that most filmmakers aren’t good enough to do something that complex so when they try it just leaves you with no one to root for. Like slashers I think revenge movies work best when sticking to a formula and only the talented should attempt to colour outside the lines. Also I agree that Amazing Larry’s idea should become a movie right away.

  65. Jones, thanks for the hookup with Fortress! The DVD release must have slipped by me when I wasn’t looking (which is, admittedly, a lot). I’m with you on Cape Fear, too. It’s one of the handful of remakes that are better than the original (like Cronenburg’s The Fly and Carpenter’s The Thing).

  66. I`m a sadistic fucker that hates violence, so I naturally prefer the realistic and complex revenge-movies. Movies, that dosen`t hold back on gruelling violence, while at the same time condemning or questioning it. Great revenge-movies like Get Carter, Lady Snowblood, Straw Dogs, Irreversible etc.

    I actually can`t remember a single great over-the-top revenge-movie, that didn`t leave me with the impression that the director was lame. Unless he was being lame on purpose.

    If a movie has to be cartoonish or ridiculous, it better go all the way, like Kill Bill, Death Proof and Inglorius Basterds. And even Inglorius Basterds made me ponder on the nature of hate and revenge.

    I guess it`s all about duality for me, aknowledging that I´m a violent creature with a conscience, understanding my violent impulses and trying not to cross over to the dark side like Dustin Hoffman in Straw Dogs.

    Can anybody here actually recommend a GREAT revenge-movie, where the hero succeeds without loosing a bit of himself in the end (if not his life, family or sanity)?

  67. Yeah, Basterds was a pretty complicated movie. When they beat that noble Nazi to death and laugh about it, you can actually sympahize with the Nazis. That’s the kind of movie I like, not cookie cutter. But those have a place too and I wouldn’t want every movie to be too complex all the time, sometimes I do just want to watch Death Wish 3 and laugh at how everyone who gets shot falls off a building (sometimes turning into dummies first).

  68. Sorry if I don’t get too excited over this, but even though I am a huge fan of Crank 1, everything else Neveldine/Taylor touched so far can only be described as bad, bad, bad.
    (Except Alison Lohman! Get it? Lohman getting touched? She’s married to Mark Neveldine! Ah, forget it, I’m not funny…)

  69. I loved CRANK 2: EVEN CRANKIER, and I even kind of liked GAMER, so color me psyched. I’m eager to see what kind of insanity these two jokers coax out of Cage. Too bad there’s little chance the suits will let them release it with an R-rating. A movie about a biker with a flaming skull for a head clearly has some very adult themes it needs to address.

  70. “Frank – you guessed right about flashbacks being done as super-8 home movies, though.”

    That’s laugh-out-loud funny in its utter predictability. The first time I recall seeing that tired device was AFFLICTION, where the grainy footage was used to (unsuccessfully) hide James Coburn’s age. (But shouldn’t the flashbacks be on consumer-grade Eighties/Nineties video now? Unless the kids are over 40 in the present day sections.)

    Is there a scene in which Horse Man about to finish off a victim, who cries and acts pathetic enough to give him pause — and then takes a shot at him or says something offensive (“she was begging for it!”), giving him an excuse to finish the job?

    DEAD MAN’S SHOES looks better by the minute. It practically IS the film that Amazing Larry is describing.

  71. “I wondered why I hadn’t heard anything about this film, so I looked it up and it STILL hasn’t been released over here in Australia either theatrically or on DVD. That’s bullshit.”

    It screened at the Night of Horror Film Festival in Sydney, which is always a fun week. I missed it though

  72. “This brings up the question of whether an ugly, unpleasant revenge movie is better than a cool, enjoyable one”

    Undoubtly yes.

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