Clay Pigeons (1998)

R  |   |  Comedy, Crime  |  25 September 1998 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 9,350 users   Metascore: 46/100
Reviews: 108 user | 49 critic | 26 from

Clay (as in the title) is a young man in a small town who witnesses his friend kill himself because of the ongoing affair that Clay was having with the man's wife. Feeling guilty, Clay now ... See full summary »



(as Matt Healy)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sheriff Dan Mooney
Deputy Barney
Wayne Brennan ...
Gloria Collins (as Nikki Arlyn)
Jeff Olson ...
Monica Moench ...
Bystander at Amanda's
Jesse Bennett ...
Dr. Jaffe
Agent Reynard


Clay (as in the title) is a young man in a small town who witnesses his friend kill himself because of the ongoing affair that Clay was having with the man's wife. Feeling guilty, Clay now resists the widow when she presses him to continue with their sexual affairs. Clay befriends a troubling serial killer. Written by BOB STEBBINS <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Lester Long never forgets a friend See more »


Comedy | Crime

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong scenes of sexuality, language and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

25 September 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

In Too Deep  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$167,364 (USA) (25 September 1998)


$1,789,892 (USA) (13 November 1998)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



| (one scene)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film was titled "Il Sapore del sangue" for its release in Italy. The title translates to "The Taste of Blood", referring to the scene where Lester licks his finger after cutting it on a kitchen knife. See more »


The sheriff's badge has 6 points, but his SUV has a 7 point star on the door. See more »


Dale Shelby: Whoa! You're standing in evidence!
Sheriff Mooney: Barney!
Dale Shelby: Your deputy's name is Barney? That's great.
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the end of the closing credits Lester Long says "You gotta good sense of humor, I like that" and does his bizarre laugh. See more »


References Deliverance (1972) See more »


I Got Stung
Written by Aaron Schröder (as Aaron Schroder) and David Hill
Performed by Elvis Presley
Courtesy of RCA Records
See more »

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User Reviews

An excellent thriller that comes out of nowhere.
27 June 2003 | by (Luoyang, China) – See all my reviews

Clay Pigeons is one of those movies that I only rented because I worked at a video store when it was released and I got movie rentals for free and would go through every movie that came out. I'm glad I rented it, too, because this is one of the best thrillers I've seen in years. Like it's title, there's nothing really complex or intricate about it, and it even follows pretty close to the usual thriller plotline, but it is so well acted and written that it thrills and entertains throughout the entire film.

The characters are made up mostly of caricatures. Caricatures, in this case, oddly enough, of the actors performing them rather than the role that needed to be filled in the story. Janeane Garofalo plays the part of an FBI agent assigned to investigate the various murders that begin turning up in a small town. Like most of her characters, she is disillusioned, sarcastic, and continually amazed at the sheer idiocy with which she is surrounded. Vince Vaughn delivers a wonderful performance as the villain, with his endless charm making him the perfect actor to play the part of a serial killer. `They're all charming,' as they say.

As is often the case, Joaquin Phoenix also plays a rather unenviable role, as he did in movies like 8MM, To Die For, and Gladiator. He is a good guy in Clay Pigeons, but after you watch the movie it becomes obvious that this guy must just have a serious problem with bad luck. A good friend of Clay's (Phoenix) kills himself in a remote location early in the film because of an affair that Clay has been having with his wife, forcing Clay to alter the scene to make it look like an accidental death in order to avoid looking like he did it to get rid of him so that he could be with his wife.

It's strange to notice the absolute absence of any kind of remorse or sadness that this wife shows after her husband kills himself. Clay is freaking out, and this vicious bitch wants to continue their sexual escapades as though nothing has even happened. When Lester Long (Vaughn) shows up, he strikes up a friendship with Clay and, through a bizarre fishing incident, becomes irreversibly intertwined with Clay's murders. Basically they are stuck working together for the rest of the movie no matter how much Clay's hatred for Lester grows. You'll just have to watch the movie to see why.

I thought that the ending was a tiny bit of a copout, if only because it involves a situation at a distant roadside diner/café that ends too perfectly. This situation just had way too many variables that could have happened to have come off exactly as it was expected to, but the movie was still so good that it is more than worth it. If you are looking for a great thriller (and you've already seen The Way of the Gun), Clay Pigeons is the way to go.

29 of 32 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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