Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Honorary Forgotten Filmography Friday

When I was 16 I was home sick from school, and watched the most bizarre, and wonderful guilty pleasure film of all time. Now I hope to inspire you to rent it (I own it, and am extremely willing to loan it out to friends. You’ll see why soon enough.)

I’ve technically seen this movie, but after watching a series of obscure movies I disliked, I decided to talk about one I loved, and one of the reasons I keep diving through piles of unmitigated crap.

Well, I think to myself, Maybe this one will be another Six-String Samurai.

Six-String Samurai is to post-apocalyptic rockabilly samurai movies what Gone with the Wind is to the Civil War. All hyperbole aside, this is a movie worth discussing.

Since I’ve seen it before, I can’t in my vague and nebulous sense of ethics give this its own Forgotten Filmography segment. But, I have to discuss this obscure gem.

This is even better for having the “In a World” Voice Over guy attached to it.

Six-String Samurai is set in an alternate timeline where the Russians bombed the US in 1957, Elvis was King of the last bastion of hope, Lost Vegas, and after he died, every swordswinging post-apocalyptic Rock n’Roller is gunning for Elvis’ crown.


Six-String Samurai very closes follows what TV Tropes calls “The Rule of Cool” (found here http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RuleOfCool) insomuch as the cooler something is, the more the audience is willing to forgive its inherent ridiculousness. A samurai dressed like Buddy Holly fighting three bowlers, cavemen, or the entire Russian Army, for example. Or fighting Death (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Slash from Guns and Roses,) in a guitar duel.

It is hard for me to describe the pleasure Six String Samurai has in its audiacity and its ridiculousness. If you tried to justify, or even really explain this film other than just discussing its patent bizarreness comes off as “you really have to have been there.” But I’m going to try anyway.

This film is rather well-documented on Youtube, so I can show a handful of my favorite sequences. At it’s core, despite the story of The Kid, the orphan who follows Buddy around and eventually learns what it takes to be a real rock ‘n roll samurai, this narrative is primarily episodic, with our titular samurai at odds with some bizarre menace or another.

This is the tail-end second sequence in the film, where a gang of killer bowlers is after Buddy’s guitar on the orders of Death himself. Watch the whole clip, but pay particularly close attention at 1:17:

This sequence is oddly tone breaking, the cannibal Cleaver sequence. If this film were a question, it would be “what the hell am I watching?!” Followed immediately by, “Why do I like it so much?” And, most likely, “What’s wrong with me?”

This is a scene near the beginning of the Third Act, where Buddy Holly single handedly defeats the Soviet Army with his kung fu guitar rock ‘n roll magic. And of course Commies hate rock ‘n roll.

Finally, Buddy Holly vs. Slash/Death. SUCCUMB TO THE POWER OF HEAVY METAL! Also note the hilariously out-of-left-field Wizard of Oz allusion ending.

You have received the thrust of the movie, but some parts missed include:
* Samurai Buddy Holly dueling scimitar-swinging Ritchie Valens in the desert.
* Buddy’s “Spinach Monster” speech after the opening credits.
* the argument about whether a 54 Plymouth can outrun a 57 Chevy (in the first quarter mile, that is.)

So, why aren’t you renting this movie? Netflix and Blockbuster Online both carry it. Your local video store…well, I can’t vouch for your personal video store. But add it to your queue already. You will not regret it!


Follow the Yellow Brick Road, homie!


Ross Williams said...

I too totally adore this film. It's nearly perfect in its ridiculousness. It's been a while since I've seen it, I think you inspired me to watch it again.

My only complaint about this film, no blood, well that, and the kid gets annoying sometimes. It doesn't need gallons of blood flying around ala Kill Bill. But after he's dispatched twenty or so villains, his blade is spotless, which always takes me out of the film. If they'd added just a touch, to make the fighting more realistic, it would have been much cooler.

elgringo said...

I am going to check this movie out soon. It's cover/title has always been alluring but I never got around to watching it. Thanks!