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Monday, December 27, 2010

COWBOY KILLER -- movie review by porfle

A modern-day cowboy who dresses like Michael Parks' "Earl McGraw" and acts like a more genial Darwin Joston from ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 terrorizes a small town in the horror comedy COWBOY KILLER (2008), director and co-writer Jason Baustin's low-budget attempt to--well, I'm not really sure what he was attempting to do, but some of it is surprisingly entertaining.

The title psycho is Roy Thompson, who cruises the streets of town in his pickup looking for people to kill.  What's disarming about Roy is that he seems so darn happy and pleased with himself when he's killing them.  Roy gets a lot of enjoyment from his chosen vocation, particularly since every time he kills someone, the victim becomes part of his imaginary circle of friends and admirers.  He's especially fond of his first victim in the film, a pretty young teen named Ashley, and has romantic picnics and campouts with her head before depositing it in a book return bin at the local library. 

Naturally, the townsfolk don't enjoy Roy's antics as much as he does, so he becomes the target of several people who want to track him down.  This includes the only two policemen in town, brothers Jeffrey and Jimmy Dalmer, and a couple of wacky slacker dudes from the cable company who are after Roy for stealing cable TV.  By the time we've made it to the final sequence, in which Roy attends a rave with the intention of blasting away with both six-shooters, the contigent of citizen vigilantes waiting outside to ambush him include the two (now former) cops, the two cable guys, Ashley's boyfriend, the town drunk, a waitress, a bouncer, a stripper, and another serial killer who tried to partner up with Roy but was rebuffed because he was too crazy. 

It helps to keep in mind that this is a very dumb movie with some really idiotic characters.  As is often the case in this sort of flick, the level of acting ranges from capable all the way down to putrid.  But somehow even the worst members of the cast eventually grow more and more likable as the situations get stranger and the dialogue gets goofier.  Gene Campbell, who plays Les the town drunk, probably gives the best performance, although Paul Bailey as Roy seems to inhabit the character quite comfortably.

On a technical level, the film often resembles BLOOD FEAST, yet there are moments when it actually looks pretty good.  The lighting is especially nice in certain scenes, and the green screen in the driving shots is very well done.  Everything else is pretty slapdash, but once you get used to this it isn't that much of a problem.

Aside from some isolated carnage, the film isn't all that violent.  The fake blood looks like it would taste great on buttered toast, and a brief glimpse of one character's intestines clearly indicates the use of what appears to be link sausage.  Also, Ashley's disembodied head is, shall we say, less than convincing.  As for the nudity--woo-hoo!  There isn't much, but what's there is cherce.  In an early scene, the cable guys bust into the wrong apartment in their search for Roy and are confronted by a naked blonde who is, as Ali G. might say, quite fit.  Later, during a nudie bar sequence, we see a couple of topless strippers--a blonde (the delectable Kerry Kearns) and a brunette--who are so downright tuff that I oozed out of my chair and onto the floor.  Woof-woof!  Ah-ROOOOO!

The final battle between Roy and his ragtag gaggle of pursuers ends in a clever and satisfying way that closes the film on an unexpectedly high note.  As much as I wanted to hate on COWBOY KILLER--and believe me, during the first half hour or so, I was ready to pan the crap out if it--the ending left me with fond feelings toward this rinky-dink little flick and its cheerfully deranged title character.  As Roy likes to say before each killing: "You're in for a damn treat!"  Not quite a treat, perhaps, but it does have its small pleasures.

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