Monster Movie Madness Presents:
THE REVENANT (2009)
Review by Rob Smales
Welcome to Monster Movie Madness, where we take a look at flicks and films dealing with threats and things that aren’t exactly human. Hell, most of ’em aren’t human at all—and those are the really fun ones!
Riggs and Murtaugh (LETHAL WEAPON, 1987). Tango and Cash (TANGO & CASH, 1989). Turner and Hooch (TURNER & HOOCH, 1989―and I still say Beasley should have won an Oscar for his portrayal of Hooch). The film houses of my youth were filled with buddy cop movies, so I was fully prepared to go on a ride along with Bart and Joey . Though they’re not exactly buddy cops. More like buddy vigilante gunslingers. I suppose it’s hard to be buddy cops when one of you is a degenerate stoner, while the other is a dead man who rises in the night to drink the blood of the living. Yeah, the police really look down on that whole degenerate stoner thing . . .
Anyway, grab your gun belt, rub a generous supply of Vicks under your nose, and jump into the back seat of that ’78 Camaro with the surfboard on the roof (mind the blood) as we take a look at THE REVENANT (2009) in action!
Written/directed by: D. Kerry Prior
Not to be confused with the 2012 and 2015 films of the same name.
Warning: this review contains spoilers.
Airplane silhouettes soar across the moon shining down upon the burning Rumaila oilfields in Basra, Iraq. A military truck—American—roars down the road as, behind it, flames leap into the night sky. In the truck, Baily (Eric Payne) and Palance (Bernardo Badillo) argue over why they’re there: merely to kill, or to protect their country’s interests? Behind the wheel, Bart (David Anders), tired of listening to the bickering, tries to shut them up by turning off the headlights and driving blind. It works—his passengers are clearly freaked out by the darkness—and Bart flicks the headlights on again, just in time to see there is a child in the road before the impact.
Horrified, Bart jams on the brakes and throws the truck into park, leaping out to look for the (hopefully) injured (and not dead) child. Behind him, Baily and Palance scream for him to turn out the lights; lit up like a Christmas tree and standing still on a dark, open road, they are sitting ducks in unfriendly territory. Ignoring them, Bart moves out in front of the vehicle, using the headlights to search for the kid—until Palance and Baily shut them off. Bart flips down his night vision goggles . . . only to see the local militia, where they’d gathered in the darkness outside the spread of the headlights, lined up and already aiming.
. . . Aaaaaand we’re at a funeral filled with crying people, especially Bart’s best friend, Joey (Chris Wylde), Bart’s girlfriend, Janet (Louise Griffiths), and her best friend Mattie (Jacey King). Mattie is trying to console Janet, explaining what she, with her Wiccan beliefs, feels is happening to Bart’s soul, but Janet proves inconsolable. When she flees outside for some air, Joey follows, offering comfort in the form of pharmaceuticals, some of which might even be legal. Their first kiss may have been an accident, but the ones that follow are not; apparently, comfort is where you find it.
We flash back to the cemetery, where the crew running the actual burial decides to knock off for the day—it’s dark, and besides, the guy in the box isn’t in any kind of a hurry; they can put the cement cap on the tomb in the morning. So they’re not there to see the guy in the box come out of the box, climb out of the hole, and stagger off toward the mortuary. Bart’s funeral makeup hasn’t survived the climb very well, and what with being shipped back from Iraq, he’s been dead the better part of a month, and, really, looking none too good. Clipping the stitches from his lips (how did you think everyone manages to smile through their own funerals?), Bart makes his way to the first place he thinks of to go for help.
Joey opens the door terrified, Louisville Slugger in hand. Eventually believing that it is Bart, somehow back from the dead—and smelling like it—Joey lets him in and the two spend the night reminiscing and trying to figure out just what the hell happened to Bart. And then the sun comes up, and Bart dies.
Then the sun goes down and Bart is back, still rotting and smelling like the inside of a fat man’s colon three days after Thanksgiving, but moving, talking, and vomiting black blood whenever he tries to eat. Not knowing what else to try, Bart robs himself a blood bank. One good drink and the old Bart is back, looking good (except for the creepy film over his dead, dead eyes) and feeling fine, and he and Joey have a great night on the town . . . until the sun comes up, and Bart dies. Again.
When Bart wakes up at sundown, he finds Joey’s been doing some research, trying to classify Bart while he was, uh, gone, and Joey’s Google-fu is strong (plus, he asked Mattie—for some reason this film assumes Wiccans are all experts in the supernatural). Bart’s walking around decomposing, like a zombie, but he can’t eat anything. He’s dead while the sun is in the sky and rises at night, but he’s got no fangs and, let’s face it, no one ever mentioned being able to smell Dracula from twenty paces. Maybe thirty. So he’s not quite a zombie, and not quite a vampire. “Dude,” Joey informs Bart. “You’re a revenant.”
Bart’s still trying to deal with this little revenant-lation when, coming out of a liquor store, he and Joey are jumped by a mugger with a gun. While the mugger is distracted by his inability to kill Bart no matter how many times he shoots him, Joey takes advantage of the situation to club the mugger unconscious. Shoving the incapacitated criminal into the backseat, they drive off, and Joey eventually convinces Bart that they need not knock off another blood bank since they have a scumbag with a copiously bleeding head wound not two feet away. Bart feeds, they drop the body into the river, and now Bart has a new food source. And a gun.
The gun comes into play the next night when they walk in on a convenience store robbery (man, they live in a crime-rich area!) and take the gunman down. And eventually to the river. And now they have two guns.
Thus begins their new quest: cleaning up crime in their streets while keeping Bart well fed. And filling up the river, one body at a time.
Okay, there’s a whole bunch left to that story, but you get the gist. It’s a lot more buddy comedy than horror story—though there are some horrific elements—and it’s a lot of fun. There are some serious questions I didn’t address in my partial synopsis. What about Bart and Janet? For that matter, what about Joey and Janet, and their co-comforting after the funeral? What about Mattie, who knows about Bart (from when Joey asked her about the undead), and how to kill him—and thinks they should? And what happens when you put a gun in the hands of a best friend who’s already proven himself not the best best friend (dude, at the funeral?)? I’m not even going to address whether or not Bart can share his “dark gift”—if you’ve seen the commercial/trailer, then you already know the answer.
I enjoy a good buddy comedy, and for me Kerry Prior has some wonderful bits of humor mixed in amongst the death, undeath, decomposition, dismemberment, gunshot wounds, and blood vomit. The film focuses on the relationship between Bart and Joey, and the screen chemistry between David Anders and Chris Wylde is fantastic. The pair have several scenes that made me laugh out loud, especially the “dark gift” scene—that one was so like something my friends and I would do, I had to rewind a little because I missed some of the movie due to Guffaws in Progress.
The ending does get somewhat dark for Bart—I know, shocking, right?—and I was worried Prior was dropping the ball and going for the serious, depressing conclusion for the comedy movie. I’ll not spoil the ending for you, but I will say that though the ending does get a bit serious, there’s still a fairly daring twist that makes it all worthwhile.
So, THE REVENANT (2009). I laughed, I cried . . . well, okay, I laughed ’til tears came, but it was almost like crying. It’s a complete story, from A to Z, answering the question What would you and your best friend do if you came back from the dead and were still you? If you’re a fan of the buddy comedy, I’d say this one was right up your alley, so long as you like your comedy with a little bit of death . . . undeath, decomposition, dismemberment, gunshot wounds, and blood vomit.
Oh, God, the blood vomit . . .
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I do love me some monster movies.
© Copyright 2017 by Rob Smales