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In the 1970s, drive-in movies were all the rage. Movies were produced
cheaply and titillated their audiences with guns, half-naked women, and
a lot of squinting. Blood flowed freely. People didn't expect much, so
they were happy with what they got. All they wanted was background
noise while they got busy with their significant others.
Cowboy Killer might have fit okay in that era. Might have. It's cheaply made, with plenty of fake-looking blood, a threadbare script, and performances that range from wooden to hamminess. People could pull up in their Chevy Novas and smooched while this junk played on the big screen. But here in the 2000s, it's just a crappy horror film that looks like it was made in someone's basement with a legion of blowup dolls. It's the kind of movie that telegraphs a flashback scene by dissolving a scene into and out of pure white.
Now, there were movies in the 1970s that were so bad that one could almost enjoy them ironically. Many of these movies were directed by legendary schlockmeister Al Adamson, a man who gave us such classics as Blood of Ghastly Horror and Angels' Wild Women. Those movies were really, really bad, but compared with this one they were hotbeds of hilarity.
Don't believe me? Here's a sample quote: "You crossed the line like a cow out of order!" Makes no sense.
So some cowboy is running around a small, podunk town killing people for no good reason. A couple of cable guys (!) are trying to find him, because apparently he didn't pay his bill. (Really.) The cops can't track him down; the sheriff fires two of them when they insist on following up on slim leads (yes, he asks for their guns and badges). The town drunk knows all about the killer, but no one believes him. The town's resident psycho killer wants to glom onto the cowboy's fun and games. And there are multiple trips to strip clubs.
But none of this is ironic. This is all straightforward. So either it's an extremely subtle, clever joke, or it's really, really awful. Stupefyingly awful. I posit that the former is a theoretical impossibility, because there's not one ounce of cleverness in this picture. There's even a character named Jeffrey Dalmer. Yes, Dalmer. Again, either the makers of this film were riffing off Jeffrey Dahlmer, intentionally misspelling the name, or they simply had no idea how to spell it. And considering the lack of wit throughout the movie, I'll wager on the latter there.
Movies that are cheaply done can still have some chilling effects - see The Blair Witch Project, for instance. You can do a lot with a little. But not here. In one scene, the killer slams a car hood on a victim's head. Immediately - the first slam! - the woman is dead and a bloody mess. Look, he's not that big; a slam would have knocked her out, perhaps. And not once does she even cry out. And this is after she stupidly put her head under the hood to check her dipstick, on account of the cowboy didn't want to get his hat dirty. Oh boy.
I also love how the cowboy's "western" accent comes and goes. It's there when he says "podner" and "ain't," and that's it.
This movie is almost exactly like pro wrestling, except with less blood and less-intricate story lines. It's as if the director just followed some people around and told them to improvise every scene, but no one had ever had an acting lesson but thought they were the greatest since, like, Coolio, or something.
Apparently the movie had a budget of $50,000. I spent the entire movie trying to figure out where that money went. It's not in the acting, the directing, the filming, the soundtrack, or the effects. Maybe they blew it all on whoopie cushions and trips to the strip club.
Here's another sample quote: "I'm gonna set his horse on fire and then eat it!" Is that supposed to be a threat? To the horse, maybe.
I don't know what else to say about this movie. It's an interminable bore, not dumb enough to be funny and not smart enough to be interesting. It's not even smart enough to know it's not very good; it looks like it desperately wants to be taken seriously, but it's not pretty enough for the Westminster Show, let alone the prom.
Paul Bailey masters the art of camp in Cowboy Killer, bringing life to
a strangely neurotic traveling serial killer (Roy Thompson) who murders
(and often dismembers) victims before hallucinating them thanking him
for a good time. And oh yeah, he fancies himself a cowboy.
Along the way Roy meets & murders around fifteen people, kisses a dismembered head, deejays a song, imagines himself marries a corpse, has a funny flashback or two, and kidnaps somebody so he can go camping. And he does it all with a smile, a sultry Southern accent, and a variation of his catchy trademark, "You're in for a damn treat". However, he eventually earns the ire of enough people who've lost friends and loved ones that an entire posse is formed to bring this Cowboy Killer to justice.
Cowboy Killer is a B-production through and through. The acting is quite often over the top, most of the characters are barely fleshed out, etc; but hey, it's a slasher flick and these are mostly staples of the genre. If Cowboy Killer actually tried to take itself serious, this would be a lousy film. However, director Jason Baustin is well aware of this and makes certain that the film stays squarely in the realm of absurdity. Above all, it's quite often hilarious between the weird puns and the odd choice of character names like "Jeff Dahmer." Cowboy Killer was quite obviously put together by mad geniuses and audiences really are in for a damn treat.
Polite and soft-spoken roving serial killer Roy Thompson fancies
himself as an old school cowboy. Roy stops off at a sleepy small town
in the Midwest and starts bumping off the locals. When the police prove
fail to effectively handle the situation, various quirky residents band
together as a vigilante posse and hunt Roy down.
Expect a B level movie...maybe even C. The acting is horrendous. These are people with zero acting skills. But it's a weird little movie that will capture your interest if you are in the mood. Just don't expect the Godfather.
It's silly movie that might just keep your attention. I forgave the really horrible acting -- and it is really BAD! And gave this a 6 for being a little different than other films of this ilk.
This film has a certain perversity about it that I've never encountered
before. All the killings have no motive other than just to kill, but
actual serial killers do have some reason for being abominable, believe
it or not. I was dumbfounded as to what made the cowboy tick, and got
bored with the attempt.
The bald guy (the makeup job might have been deliberately made obvious, but who knows)seems to be parodying every perceived country hick there's ever been: From Gomer Pyle to Slim Pickens to Lil Abner to ??? I found myself wishing he would be quickly included on the victim list, but nooooo.
The naked women (except for the African-American one in the bunk bed) were nauseating and total trailer trash. I wished for them to get put clothes on, quickly.
The gore effects were lame and fake. Where's Tom Savini when you need him? In fact, every aspect of this video dreck is lame and fake. Only entertaining if you're brain dead and/or a serial killer yourself. If this celluloid garbage was a student project film, I would give the film-maker an F------. Shame on all involved!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Polite and soft-spoken roving serial killer Roy Thompson (wonderfully played with considerable flair and folksy charm to spare by Paul Bailey) fancies himself as an old school cowboy. Roy stops off in a sleepy small town and bumps off assorted locals. When the police fail to effectively the situation, several angry oddball residents band together as a vigilante posse and hunt Roy down in order to enforce some old-fashioned frontier justice. Director Jason Baustin, working from a witty script by Jaymes Camery and Ben Solenberger, relates the delightfully idiosyncratic premise at a snappy pace, maintains an engagingly casual screwball tone throughout, delivers plenty of bloody violence and a generous amount of yummy gratuitous female nudity, and ably milks the amusing and amiable sense of goofy laid-back humor for plenty of belly laughs (the often hysterically profane dialogue in particular is frequently quite hilarious). The enthusiastic cast attack the broad material with rip-snorting hammy panache, with especially praiseworthy work from Chris Kennedy as gung-ho deputy Jimmy Dalmer, Gene Campbell as amicable drunk Les, Kerry Kearns as feisty stripper Kiki, Paul Fahrenkopf as fed-up police chief Rick Hernandez, and Solenberger as ratty nutcase Ernie Murray. The courtly Roy makes for a strangely likable and personable psycho. Moreover, this film has a genuinely loopy quality to it that's impossible to hate or resist (Roy's hallucinations about conversing with his victims stands out as a very inspired off-the-wall touch). The bright cinematography by Jason Simmons gives the picture a nice slick look. The twangy'n'tuneful score by Josh Guss and Blue Ajay does the jaunty trick. As Roy so aptly puts it, you're in for a damn treat.
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