Wednesday, May 13, 2009
"Wanna hear a story.....city boy?"
I hadn't realized how much influence Grim Prairie Tales had had on Weird Westerns of the time until I started researching them. Suddenly every review that talks about about one film would compare it to Grim Prairie Tales in some way. Apparently it is a pioneering film (no pun intended) of the genre.....Even though there are a lot of other Weird Westerns that have come before.
In the reviews about the film itself, they have pretty much all around agreed that the film isn't very scary....and that's true. The stories are fun, but not really scary (and in my opinion border on being supernatural at all) save for the second one that has a strong supernatural twist at the end. The other COULD have alternate explanations.
So what is it about this movie that I liked so much, you ask? This is a character piece, about two very different men sitting around a campfire telling each other scary stories....and its them and their interactions that make this film such a compelling watch....I was almost sorry that the film cuts away for the stories, but only almost because the stories, even though they are pretty tame, are all part of it...and not being scary doesn't equal unenjoyable.
Brad Dourif plays Farley a "city boy" on his way to meet his wife in Jacksonville and to see his dying mother. He isnt comfortable on the trail, dropping his cooking equipment once, and later jumping at night sounds when he makes camp for the night. Then one night, a man comes into his camp asking to share his fire, it's Morrison, played by James Earl Jones, a bounty hunter taking his latest kill back to collect the reward. The two men don't get along very well at first, mixing badly...but then Morrison starts telling Farley stories. There are really 5 stories in the movie, the first one isn't ever shown, you just watch James Earl Jones tell it....and its actually one of my favorite parts of the movie for that reason.
...but then, he starts telling more involved stories...the first one is about the consequences a man faces for invading a sacred Native American burial ground. It isn't very scary...and Farley doesn't think so either...in fact he picks it apart and sees it more as a metaphor for White/Indian relations. So Morrison tells him another one about what happens when a good samaritan helps a pregnant lady in the middle of nowhere.
Farley is disgusted that the quality of story has suddenly dipped so low.
Then Farley tells a story, one that doesn't have a supernatural twist but is, in many ways, more horrifying then the other three....a daughter falls upon her fathers VERY dark secret when he rides off with a posse for some unknown night time business.
Morrison ends the session with a fun story about a quick draw contest and what happens to the winner.
I have to say, when I first saw this film back in the 90s I enjoyed it...even back then it wasn't very scary...but seeing it again, it was a quick watch and I enjoyed it just as a much.
Written and Directed by Wayne Coe, the acting does sometimes feel a bit theatrical...like the camera was placed back and he just let the actors do their thing.
Unfortunately, it isn't on DVD so I cant recommend that you rent it...but if you get a chance you should definitely watch it, at least once....hopefully you won't be sorry you did.
I give this film 3 out of 4 Bloody Spurs