Published on October 27th, 2012 | by David0
Dust Up: A Violent, Hilarious Desert Adventure
You might not have heard of today’s movie, but if you’re a cinephile, especially the cult, midnight-movie-loving kind, you should definitely check it out. This film recalls quite a few tongue in cheek action movies- the dry wit and postapocalypic setting of Tank Girl, Kill Bill’s fountains of blood and western swagger, and even a bit of Breaking Bad’s meth landscape. The plot is mostly a carrier for witty dialog, gory slapstick, and protagonists unfazed by absurdity, but doesn’t pretend to be anything else. Dust Up is showing now in limited release, and available on VOD as well.
Stoic eye-patched protagonist Shakes (Christian Badami) plays against young, wiry, upbeat Mel (Keith Barletta), a Native American finding himself after leaving the reservation. A house call to fix a pumping problem somehow catapults both into a struggle a between a crazed wasteland drug lord, an inept addict who owes him quite a bit of cash, and the addict’s hapless wife and baby. From there, the action is fast and furious, a goofy, gory thrill ride that rarely lets up.
The soundtrack is a highlight of this film- scored and largely performed by psychedelic western band Spindrift, it contains their own hits as well as music from Les Blanks, Gram Rabbit, and Kirkpatrick Thomas. Our screening featured a special Q&A session with the band, and it was great to hear them talk excitedly about the chance to completely score a film that fits their own style so perfectly.
This is a very indie production, but despite the the limited budget, the filmmakers manage to pull off a cohesive, well-done movie with great sound, well-executed visuals, and solid writing. There are a few giveaways, such as sunlight washing out indoor trailer shots, but a few familiar faces (Amber Benson, “Buffy,” and Ezra Buzzington, “Justified”) help create the feeling of an intentionally B-styled film rather than a resource-constrained budget production. The other advantage of the film’s self-financing is the creative latitude of the director- be ready for shots and ideas that just wouldn’t get past a producer’s initial screening.
Our screening was hosted at the Vortex Room in San Francisco, which deserves its own write-up. Inside this 80′s-styled living room movie theater off Howard St., you’ll find a full bar, psychedelic projector images on the wall, one of the largest cult film collections in the world (the proprietor often gets requests to lend them to enthusiasts abroad), and even a fuzzy needlework Charles Manson poster. The crowd is just as eclectic, with pierced steam punk enthusiasts and neo-Victorians sharing tables with grungy Mission hipsters and young, clean-cut SOMA techies. If you are ever looking for a fun night in San Francisco, I recommend seeing what’s playing there.