The Meat of Six-String Samurai (1998): Buddy just wants to be king but an orphaned kid, roving gangs of the wasteland, and Death himself aren't going to make this easy.
Lady Terminator's Special Guest: Author and editor, John Bruni! This dude writes the shit out of strange fiction.
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And when he's not getting his own writing out there, he's editing pieces for StrangeHouse Books and their monster erotica imprint, MonstErection Publishing. Check out John's blog Tabard Inn: Tales of Questionable Taste to read some of his stories and to keep up with his projects!
And now here's John with 5 things he loves about Six-String Samurai. As always, be forewarned. Mild spoilers may lurk ahead!
Back when I was in college, I watched a lot of late night Skinemax. No, not for the purpose of seeing softcore porn, although I wouldn't turn away from it if I found it. No, occasionally they played oddball movies you wouldn't be able to find anywhere else. It's where I saw Cannibal: The Musical for the first time, and this was before South Park was a show. In fact, they played a lot of Troma movies back then, which is how I saw Terror Firmer for the first time.
Howerever, the night I stumbled upon Six-String Samurai changed my life. I was consuming a lot of bizarro work back then, in ye olde days before they had a name for the genre, when guys like Joe R. Lansdale were putting out the weirdest stories available. Six-String Samurai was the king of all bizarro cinema back then, and it hit me in just the right part of my mind at just the right time. I have yet to see anything like it, and as a result, it is one of my favorite movies of all time.
I know this blog is more about horror than bizarro, but rest assured: this movie contains enough horror elements to qualify, as one of the villains will attest. Also, there is a sequence that happens in Hell (or at least the afterlife). Here are a few things I truly enjoy about this movie.
1. The Setting
This movie is technically alternate reality science fiction. The point of divergence with our reality? In 1957, the USSR nuked the fuck out of the US and took over everything except for Lost Vegas, "the last bastion of freedom" where Elvis Presley reigns as king.
Fast forward forty years, and Elvis has died. Now, every guitar-slinging swordsman wants the crown. Let the competition begin!
2. The Hero
The Six-String Samurai in question is a guy named Buddy, who looks suspiciously like Buddy Holly.
Hell, they even call him Buddy, although a last name is never mentioned. He is the Clint Eastwood-ish anti-hero of our story. He's a warrior guitarist who has a habit of saying "swell" whenever something happens that he doesn't like. (That's more of a Dirty Harry thing than a Man with No Name thing, but still.)
He would have been at home in a Sergio Leone western or any number of kung fu classics. All he wants to do is get to Vegas and win the crown, but when he unintentionally rescues a kid from Death, he finds himself learning how to care for others, a necessary quality for a good king to have.
3. The Tone
This movie is shot like a spaghetti western, which makes sense since the first such western, A Fistful of Dollars, was inspired by a Japanese samurai movie called Yojimbo.
Except here, the Ennio Morricone score has been replaced by rock 'n' roll tunes.
Plus, there's a reference to Clint early in the movie when a character who looks and sounds a lot like him shows up at a gas station/bar and accidentally sets himself on fire.
4. The Villain
You can't get any better than Death himself. He's a contender for the throne, and he spends most of the movie killing other guitarist warriors. The fact that he looks like Slash is even more awesome, and you never see his face...
...except for in brief moments when all you can see is a skull.
5. Buddy's Encounters
To describe the things Buddy and the kid have to go through to get to Lost Vegas would be an act of madness. It's all so over the top, it's insane. It's bizarro.
The first group of bad guys is made up of bowling enthusiasts. They dress in bowling shirts and carry around ball-bags; inside of each is a mace and a bowling pin dagger.
In the background, you can see the Red Elvises, a rock 'n' roll group of Elvis impersonating Russians who want Buddy's guitar (and, of course, the throne).
You'll also see quite a few Mad Max-esque headbangers who catapult gumballs at their enemies.
And then there are the Windmill People who dress in astronaut suits and worship an underground machine gone mad.
The Red Army puts in a slightly racist appearance, as they fill in the role of the Native American in this insane western/kung fu extravaganza.
But none of these villains can hold a candle to the cannibal family who live their lives as if they were the Cleavers from Leave It to Beaver.
This family alone is worth the price of admission. Although I'm pretty sure I did a good job of enticing you. If you like bizarro, you should not miss this movie.
What does Lady Terminator think?
Oh, man. This movie is fantastic. It's just my kind of strange, it has a great soundtrack and the visuals are gorgeous. They really milked these desolate locations for some tasty eye candy. I'm just going to let these amazing images do the talking...
The Final Tallies?
What we learned today:
1. Six-String Samurai is a beautifully bizarre film and totally worth your time.
2. John Bruni is also beautifully bizarre and his books are totally worth your time. (You can pick some up here.)
Until next time...
Lady Terminator AKA Erika Instead