Written by: Carroll Jenkins on December 16th, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1985
Director: Paul Bartel
Writer: Philip John Taylor
Cast:Tab Hunter, Divine, Lainie Kazan, Geoffrey Lewis, Henry Silva, Cesar Romero, Gina Gallego, Nedra Volz, Courtney Gains, Woody Strode
DVD released: December 9th, 2013
Approximate running time: 82 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English
DVD Release: ArrowDrome
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: £12.99
Synopsis: Various strangers drift into the town of Chili Verde, New Mexico in search for the legendary buried gold that nobody knows anything about.
The trappings are pure spaghetti western, with genre veteran Tab Hunter as the leading man. Henry Silva (The Hills Run Red) is on board and even Woody Strode (Once Upon a Time in the West) is on hand in a small role. But before we assume this film is the heir to Sergio Leone’s legacy, it is necessary to realize it is directed by Paul Bartel (Death Race 2000, Private Parts), and that the real star of the show is Divine (Pink Flamingos, Hairspray).
Divine was the stage name of Glenn Milstead, who started out as a hair stylist and later starred in many John Waters vehicles. This is his first role outside of the Waters universe, and he gives a great performance. His character is Rosie Velez, a promiscuous dance hall girl who seeks the romantic attention of Tab Hunter. So does Marguerita Ventura, played by Lainie Kazan (My Big Fat Greek Wedding).
It is the presence of Lainie that carries this film and saves it from being a serious misfire. The jokes aren’t that funny and Divine by herself is good, but it is the feud between these two that makes this something special. Their entire relationship is based on competition, they each sing a song (each one a highlight), but mostly they try to out ‘female impersonate’ each other. Their constant bickering, trading of insults, and all-out catfights are a sight to behold. Lainie, of course, like Bette Midler and Mae West, has the advantage of natural attributes. She appeared in the October 1970 (Collinson Twins) issue of Playboy, and by that layout it can be stated with confidence that she bares her breasts here as the body double for Divine!
Geoffrey Lewis (Dillinger) is good but hardly sinister as the primary villain, Caesar Romero (Latitude Zero) gets one of his patented rants, and Gina Gallego (Lifeblood) serves up some seriously tasty eye candy. Last but not least, Paul Bartel does a great job as director handling action scenes (shoot outs, lynch mobs) with flair, and making the Margarita bar a character unto itself. As usual, he permeates the production with a sardonic black humor all his own.
This is a good presentation as the film looks nice and sounds fine. There are no close captions or subtitles and the only extra is the trailer (but it’s always nice to have).