Here’s a movie that went completely under my radar, until I spotted the incredibly attention grabbing DVD cover: A babe with a gun, an Indian with a bow and an eye patched wearing man armed with a power drill while driving a 3-wheeler, all synced with an old west vibe. Now if that doesn’t say action/oddball neo-western, I don’t know what does.
I’m not sure how to go about telling you about Dust Up without making it sound like its overly ambitious or making it sound like it will give you an anxiety attack. Dust Up offers something for everyone: At its core, it’s a story about a man’s redemption with a Spaghetti Western tone, fitted with wide shots and close ups of character’s faces and the strumming of a guitar and rapid beating on a drum for the soundtrack to round off the tone. Then the movie shifts into high gear at parts, offering Sam Raimi style titled camera zooms on characters tweaking out, painted in bright green, pink or blue lighting like Giallo film, tuned to fast paced electronic music , like that of KMFDM. But don’t forget the dark or subtle humor littered throughout the film. You’ll be laughing at something and then question if you should be (but trust me, you should). Oh and we can’t forget the blood, murder, cannibalism and mayhem! Plenty of that for you gore hounds.
Right from the stylish opening credits (reminding me of Go With the Flow video by Queens of the Stone Age), you know you’re in for a ride. Shortly after that we are introduced to our one eyed main character, Jack, who is waking up from a reoccurring, vivid nightmare of a horrible past event that he relives every night from his Marine days and because of it, has secluded himself in the desert. Trying to live a peaceful, non violent life along with his hipster-Native American friend Moe (complete with headband, beaded chest piece and tube socks), they provide a great deal of the movie’s humor, especially Moe.
Jack earns a living by being the desert’s handyman (that’s a lot of ground to cover when you think about it) and is summoned to the job when a young, newly mother named Ella has some issues with her plumbing… ahem (okay, bad pun, but seriously, mud sprays from her faucets). I should mention that Ella is played by Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Amber Benson, still looking cute as ever. Now we shift those gears again and get our glimpse into the psychotic, drug riddled world of Dust Up. Here, we meet Buzz. Resident bar owner, drug dealer, doper and shell shocked bi-sexual (and these are his better personalities). Buzz gets a call from the Sherriff demanding the money he is owed, to which Buzz decides it’s time to collect the money owed to him by meth addict Herman. Herman is assisted out of the bar by the well named Mr. Lizard, who just loves to squeeze balls… (let it come to you) and left to hitchhike. Did I mention Herman is also Ella’s husband? Well, he is and now you know how all these characters are connected! On his way back from Ella’s, Jack spots the recently kicked out the bar Herman hitchhiking.
Seems Herman is in a tight spot for money, so after offering Jack a ‘Handy J’ (hey, Jack isn’t the only ‘handy’ man in the desert!) in exchange for cash he kicks him out of the truck, but is later called back to Ella’s after a butt dial of what sounds like an argument. Being the self appointed hero, Jack springs into action and heads on over and learns of Herman’s dilemma and offers to loan him some of the cash (after all, that would be a lot of ‘Handy J’s’).
This is when things start to go south for all of the colorful characters. Jack and Herman head off to pay Buzz some of the money, along with Moe who is infiltrating Buzz’s bar incognito (you know, because he’ll blend right in…), but wouldn’t you know it? Everything goes sour and the boys end up blowing up Buzz’s place! And if things couldn’t get any worse, guess what? The Sherriff arrives and demands his money! Wakka Wakka! And then, the film takes an incredibly dark turn. To put it lightly, Buzz chokes the Sherriff to death while raping him. And remember, I said “lightly.” I’m wording this as non foul as possible.
Buzz and his gang decide to head on over to Casa de Herman and take over their residence, inviting all his bar patrons and having a ‘pig’ roast (get it? Because the Sherriff is a cop… pigs… ok), lacing the Sherriff’s cooked body with drugs, encouraging everyone to partake in cannibalism. Well, there is one way to do it: Appeal to a junkie’s needs. After a severe beating, Jack and Moe escape and rescue Ella, but as for poor Herman… Well, let’s just say that a dog ate his guts. All is still not right though. Buzz still has Ella’s child and Buzz is so insane that he will continue to hunt them down forever and ever. Time to nut up, as Jack, Moe and Ella tap into their inner Chi or Native-ness or whatever, don some war paint, load up and go to war in a hilarious and gory climax!
This movie is literally a trip. It will give you the illusion that you are watching it under the influence of narcotics and if you are on narcotics, prepare yourself for a freak-out. Dust Up is one of those rare gems where as chaotic as the characters and themes can be, mix perfectly together here. At times, it’s subtle and then escalates to over the top silly and is quickly brought down by threatening violence and topped off with some good blood. The music only helps to enhance the viewing, perfectly fitting each scenario from calming to heavily frantic (although sometimes it can be too loud and cover some of the dialogue).
I can’t stress it enough: SEE THIS MOVIE. It’s got a splash of Tarantino, Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone and maybe a dash of Oliver Stone. The disc boasts a lot of cool and funny extras as well at an affordable price (I found mine at a Best Buy for $9.99). Now that’s a price you can afford and won’t have to give any Handy J’s.
Howdy partner! Mosey on over to The Lost Highway to read the review and others!