I’ve sang the praises of Withnail and I on the blog before, but I was recently reminded of another, great, bizarre British comedy that also debuted in 1987. I’m not sure what was in the water that year, but it was something compellingly strange and relentlessly absurd.
Looking at DVD’s online, I came across a two-disc deluxe edition of Straight to Hell that I wasn’t aware of. I love this movie, but hadn’t seen or thought about it in years. By the time I had read this outrageous Amazon description of the flick, I’d fallen into strange love all over again:
Four hapless bank robbers bury their loot and attempt to hide out in a deserted desert town. But the town is not deserted. Feasting, song, sexual tension, and inevitable deaths ensue. Featuring digitally improved violence and cruelty, six missing scenes, A new 5.1 stereo soundtrack by Academy Awardr Winner Richard Beggs, and a new color design by cinematographer Tom Richmond. Norwood (Sy Richardson), Sims (Joe Strummer) and Willy (Dick Rude) are three black-suited killers-for-hire. Paid to murder one Mr Greenburg, they oversleep and miss their target. To escape the wrath of their employer, Mr Dade (Jim Jarmusch), they head for the desert, robbing a bank en route. When their car dies in a ravine, the robbers bury their money and head for a lonely town to hide out “till the heat blows down”. A dead man in an overturned car greets them. Next morning, a horde of bandits, the McMahon clan (The Pogues), descends upon the town. A showdown between the hitmen and the outlaw gang is averted by the arrival of Rusty Zimmerman (Ed Tudor-Pole), who attempts to arrest Bruno McMahon (Shane MacGowan) and his brother Angel Eyes (Spider Stacey). The killers dispatch Rusty and his fellow bail-bondsmen, and are befriended by Frank (Biff Yeager), the leader of the McMahons. An uneasy truce lasts for a couple of nights. Sims and Willy fall in love with two of the local beauties, Fabienne (Jennifer Balgobin) and Louise (Michele Winstanley). But when Sabrina McMahon (Kathy Burke) murders the family patriarch (Jem Finer), a series of deadly events is set in train. Mr Farben (Dennis Hopper) and his lovely wife Sonia (Grace Jones) provide the killers with a suitcase full of high-tech weaponry. George, the hardware store owner (Miguel Sandoval) kills Angel Eyes. And Mr Dade arrives, offering a bounty for the heads of Norwood, Willy and Sims. Willy and Sims flee the ensuing gun battle, abandoning Norwood and Fabienne to certain death. Velma, teaming up with Frank, outsmarts all three and makes off with the money. But Frank, an amateur mechanic, has failed to properly maintain his clutch and brakes, and he and Velma meet a fiery demise. Norwood and Fabienne miraculously survive the destruction of the hardware store, and kill Mr Dade and his henchmen. Norwood leaves town with the women, bound for an uncertain but interesting future. Meanwhile, a skeletal hand emerges from the smoking ruins of the store…
Sounds like a winner, no?
Watch this great behind the scene’s featurette to find out more. If you’ve never seen Hell, this will serve as a great primer. If you are a long-time fan, this will wind you up all over again.