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STRAIGHT TO HELL

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, May 3, 2019

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is not a film I liked, as you will see from my review below, published in the Deseret News on July 9, 1987, but someone apparently feels it will sell, since Kino Lorber has given the picture a new Blu-ray upgrade.

There’s a new movie genre to contend with, a sort of “Punk Western-Gangster” picture, with a very provocative title — “Straight to Hell.”

And sitting through this picture conjures up the movie critics’ hell: being subjected to reruns of “Straight to Hell” for eternity.

Despite the presence of a punk band (The Pogues) as a family of villains, Elvis Costello as a butler named “Hives,” The Clash founder Joe Strummer as the hero (sort of), and no less than Dennis Hopper and Grace Jones in cameo roles, this stupefyingly unfunny comedy won’t even achieve cult status. None of the potential cult will be able to stay awake long enough to finish it out.

     

    Grace Jones, Dennis Hopper, 'Straight to Hell'

But there is one noteworthy element that may find its way into Trivial Pursuit “Silver Screen Edition” cards in 1997. When you are asked, “What movie had in its opening credits the title “Sex and Cruelty Consultant?” be sure to answer “Straight to Hell”; it may win you a pie. (The production company is called “Commies from Mars”; that may also make the ’97 edition.)

Apparently intended to spoof Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns — and in some ways it does resemble “A Fistful of Dollars” and “For a Few Dollars More,” having been filmed on one of Leone’s Spain sets — “Straight to Hell” is co-written and directed by Alex Cox, who gave us the oddball “Repo Man” and the repugnant “Sid and Nancy.”

But Cox, who reportedly wrote this one with Dick Rude in three days and filmed it in three weeks (for under a million dollars), tosses away whatever wit may have inspired this picture in the first place. The result is an embarrassingly bad home movie. The fun he had making it did not translate to the screen.

     

There is a sort of plot, with four bank robbers (including a very shrill, obnoxious pregnant woman) on the lam coming across the aforementioned western town, which they discover is occupied by a weirdo family of inbred dolts. There’s lots of coffee drinking, killings, close-ups of very bad teeth and general unpleasantness.

To say none of this is in the least bit entertaining is to understate. And as if to add insult to injury, the end credits proclaim that a sequel, “Back to Hell,” is in the works. At least the title would be appropriate.

“Straight to Hell” is rated R for violence, sex, profanity, vulgarity, etc. Bad taste isn’t an element evaluated by the ratings system; if it was, this one might get an X.