Friday, January 16, 2009

Six-String Samurai: the Coolest B Movie Ever

Friday, January 16, 2009

Imagine a movie that is part Red Dawn, part Mad Max / Road Warrior, part Kill Bill (definitely the all-style-no-substance Volume 1), part Wizard of Oz, part The Seventh Seal (or Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, if you prefer), and part tribute/satire to rockabilly music and the 50's.

Put it all together and what do you get?
(I'll tell you after the jump.)

I will not be coy. This movie has many, many problems, but most of them can be attributed to the B movie budget of the production. The dialogue is terrible, and the delivery is worse. The special effects are obviously limited, though the film-makers do a lot with what they've got. The biggest single problem is the overuse of the orphan sidekick character, who started out as just another bit of comedy, but eventually progressed to become a predictably and disgustingly sentimental prop on the scale of Tiny Tim. Let me put it this way: he mostly speaks in whiny shouts like "aAaaaAah!" and "oOooaah!"

However, the CORE IDEA of the story and the world in which it exists is amazing, and one can forget some of the poor details when one looks at the beauty and imagination in the grand scope of the film. What is this amazing story? Well, let me let the film do the talking; it speaks for itself. Here are the words from the prologue that scrolled over black:

In 1957 the bomb dropped, and Russia took over what was America.

The last bastion of freedom became a place called Lost Vegas, and Elvis was crowned King.

After forty rockin' years, the King is dead.

Every guitar-picking, sword-swinging opportunist, including Death himself, hears the call echoing across the wastelands.

Vegas needs a new King.

Who is the Six-String Samurai? His name is 'Buddy' in Holly; he looks the same, dresses the same, plays the same sort of music, and even wears those signature geek-chic glasses.

So, most of the movie then is Buddy wandering around the wastelands, dueling to the death a bunch of people lamer than he, including a trio of strong-arm bowlers, a car-roving band of crazed cannibals, silent killer astronauts, a bizarre cult that worships an all-powerful "Windmill God", an inept battalion of left-over Soviet soldiers, and finally, DEATH himself. That's right. Death himself is the true villain of this movie, and Death wields a katana and plays a mean guitar. Of course, Death obviously plays death metal. In fact, he kinda looks like a Nazgul version of Ozzy Osbourne as the tophat-wearing Prince of Darkness.

On top of all this, many of the characters speak in ridiculously dated vernacular, constantly saying such slang as "Swell!" and sometimes arguing the merits of different 50's automobiles, and the entire soundtrack consists mostly of songs from the cooky on-screen Russian band, the 'Red Elvises'. Also, Six-String Samurai won Best Cinematography and Best Editing at Slamdance in 1998, and it shows. Best of all, this movie knows its a B-movie, and knows its cheesy, and is willing to poke fun at itself. It has no pretensions. It is very up-front. "Hey this a movie about samurai rock stars that kill each other to become King of Vegas/Oz." Who wouldn't wanna watch THAT???

Basically....if you have seen aaaany B-movies at all, I cannot recommend Six-String Samurai enough. In fact, if you have watched aaaany B Movies at all, you have a categorical imperative to watch this film. At the very least, you should watch it on Instant Netflix and just skip everything but Buddy Holly slaying all the weird troop of posers. You could maybe even skip that, so long as you watch the end when the Six-String Samurai duels with Death, who raises his sword and charges him while shouting the line "Bend before the ways of Heavy Metal!"


P.S. This is definitely the best line from the movie...
Ward Cleaver: You ever try a pink golf ball, Wally? Why, the wind shear alone on a pink golf ball can take the head off a 90-pound midget at over 300 yards.


Taylor J. Seyfert said...

Amen. That quote is actually my signature on a lot of message board posts.

Post a Comment