Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Last Rites of Ransom Pride: Art House Acid Western

I have been laid up at home for a few days, possibly turning into a few months, but thanks to the digital world (as one friend calls it, “the interwebs, a series of tubes and wires that carry dirty pictures”) I still have access to a wide array of western entertainment.  Having Netflix stream right to your television, for example, opens up a wide array of truly terrible movies that I sadly wasted time with.  I confess that I did not make it more than a couple of minutes into either Defiance or Dan Teaser’s Ghost Town.  A crazy little film called The Last Rites of Ransom Pride caught my attention, though, enough to watch this short 82 minute western.

The power players of this cast are Kris Kristoferson and Dwight Yokem, a pair that are to westerns what Christopher Walken is to crime stories: good actors who never turn down a role, no matter how bad the script.  I spent a lot of time looking at the other characters and remembering them from other roles.  "Hey, look, there’s Felicity’s boyfriend, and that bartender from Deadwood, and the dude from the Station Agent, and the funny one from Party Down."  Jason Priestly is in the credits, but I didn’t see Brandon Walsh anywhere.  I’d tell you more about the acting, but Last Rites is about the visuals more than about the acting, with lingering shadowy cuts interspersed among overly bright shots of lonely alkali deserts.

Speaking of Deadwood, from scene to scene the movie plays like the brothel scenes from Deadwood, the angry God parts from Pale Rider, Jim Morrison wandering the desert in The Doors, or some combination thereof.  Last Rites is a weird acid trip of a twisted, multilayered revenge story. The film takes place along the US / Mexican border in the early 20th century allowing for some interesting automatic vs revolver gunfights and horse vs Model T Ford chases.  I thought that the gunplay would constant and bloodier, but the films is much more moody than frantic.

Did I mention the scarred, sexy witch, shotgun toting dwarf carny, or the opium addict Siamese twins?
I wasn’t sure what I was expecting out of this movie, but this sure wasn’t it.  I can’t quite say that I liked it, but when I step back I have to admit it does make a nice little art house western.

Post Script: I just learned who Jason Priestly played in the movie.  Totally unrecognizable from the much side-burned Brandon Walsh of 90210.  Look for him listed as the “illiterate imbecile” at 0:14 into this video.

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