Thursday, July 27, 2006


Six-String SamuraiJeffrey Falcon Directed by Lance Mungia
Reviewed by Byron Merritt



A post-apocalyptic, spaghetti western, rock-n-roll Samurai film? Yep. That pretty much sums up SIX-STRING SAMURAI. It’s quirky. It’s B-movie all the way. It’s wonderful.

What we have here is a film shot on weekends on a minuscule budget in and around Death Valley, California. It also pays homage to many films; every Clint Eastwood spaghetti western ever made, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, Night of the Living Dead and, of course, The Wizard of Oz, just to name a few.

The movie was dubbed giving it a hokey spaghetti western feel that matched the production values perfectly (very low). "The Kid" in the film (Justin McGuire) was a carbon-copy of the mangy little guy that follows Mel Gibson around in Beyond Thunderdome. There’s a family of cannibals and "The Windmillers" who represent the slow brain functions from Night of the Living Dead. And then there are the multiple references to The Wizard of Oz ("Just follow the yellow brick road").

The story’s focus is on Buddy (Jeffrey Falcon), a six string carrying, Samurai sword wielding bad ass who wants to be the new "King" of "Lost Vegas." But first he has to get there. Traveling across the desert wasteland of the post-apocalyptic world, Buddy (who looks remarkably like Buddy Holly) has to slash, punch, and scratch his way toward The Emerald City (another Wizard of Oz reference that we see, Lost Vegas looking very much like the gateway to Oz’s hometown). Along the way Buddy picks up "The Kid", a young boy who’s mother was killed by humans resembling troglodytes. The Kid doesn’t speak (initially) and only screams/moans whenever he wants Buddy’s attention. But The Kid is good with mechanical objects (cars, motorcycles, bicycles) and the two form a grudging relationship as they travel together. The only issue between them is Buddy’s priceless guitar which he nurtures more than The Kid the beginning. But Buddy can play his six string as potently as he can don his sword, giving him a good shot at becoming the King of Lost Vegas.

On Buddy and The Kids’ tail, however, is Death (represented as the four horseman of the apocalypse ...but without their horses). Death wants to be/remain the King and kills anyone who gets in his way, leaving a lot of rock-n-roll wannabes as corpses. And in front of Buddy and The Kid is the Russian Army (Oh! Did I forget to mention that the USSR took over the U.S. after it nuked us in 1957?)

After much bloodletting, Death and Buddy have their day on the sand. First comes a guitar duel (Death wields a wickedly good six string himself!), then the sword. But what will happen if Buddy wins? Can he be a true father-figure to The Kid? And what would happen to The Kid if Buddy died? Would Death take the little tike, too?

There are A LOT of well choreographed fight sequences (perhaps one or two too many). The camera work was done with an eye toward professionalism, never being herky-jerky or under -over exposed. The acting was okay. And the story was so ridiculous that suspending disbelief was quite fun. The dialogue often set the tone for the entire production, giving us some great bits like...

Death: "You have failed me for the last...hey, nice shoes." Then we watch Death kill the men wearing the shoes and walk away with new footwear.

The musical score is also pulled off well. The Red Elvises leant their music and themselves for the production (they are the ones with the nice shoes mentioned above). Their musical numbers reminded me very much of The Stray Cats (a band I liked).

If you don’t mind low production standards but enjoy spoofs with a good, if somewhat ridiculous, script, then slip this little B-flick into your DVD player and bask in its foolishness. You won’t be disappointed.

No movie trailer available. Sooooorrrrry!


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