Thursday, January 10, 2008

things to rent from netflix when you're dead

I recently rented a film called “South of Heaven, West of Hell” after reading about Warren Zevon’s cameo appearance in his biography written by his ex-wife Crystal in 2007.

I was fortunate to have seen Warren in concert twice while he was alive, so there was no way I wasn’t going to watch this movie. The first time I saw Warren perform was January 9, 1996 in the Rockin’ Horse Saloon in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was a fantastic show. Every time Warren would finish a song, some jackass would yell “Werewolves of London!” Finally Warren said, “Look… I’m going to play it, but not now. If I play that song now, most of you will leave as soon as I’m done. So I’ll play it at the end of the show.” And he did. And nobody had left. And nobody seemed ready to leave even after they brought the house lights up. Well, I’m sure Warren was ready to leave, but he was probably the only one. Interestingly, that venue burned to the ground like the following week.

I caught Warren in concert again outside of Alice Cooperstown in Phoenix on April 1, 2000. (No fooling!) It was another amazing performance by the man with his guitar, a harmonica and a keyboard. Who needs a band?

While waiting for the movie to be delivered by the mail carrier, I settled in and read the 48 reviews submitted by various Netflickians- 29 of whom absolutely “hated” it. The vast majority of the rest didn’t care for it, and many probably didn’t watch it all of the way through. A few people claimed they loved it, but I suspect that they were probably trying to instigate some sort of cyber fistfight.

Pretty much the only item of value I got from the reviews was the knowledge that Paul Reubens also had a small role in the movie. Just think of that, Warren Zevon, Peter Fonda and Pee Wee Herman appearing on the silver screen together!

The movie was filmed in Arizona- appropriate, as it is a western set in the finals days of 1907. Warren only appears in the movie for a short time. He plays a character named Babcock who sticks pretty close to Billy Bob Thornton and has very little (if anything) to say. Paul Reubens plays a convincing cowthug named Arvid Henry. Don’t be surprised if you don’t recognize him at first.

I wish I could tell you to rush out and rent this movie and that you’ll love it. But I can’t. Possibly it could have been better if it wasn’t written, cast, directed, edited and produced by Dwight Yoakam. But that would pretty much make it a different movie. Still, it is a far cry from what some folks have deemed the worst movie of all time. I could easily list twelve dozen worse films if I wanted to bother.

If you are a Zevon fan, you really should watch it. Same thing goes for Paul Reubens fans. If you aren’t fans of either of them but love Peter Fonda, just watch Easy Rider again.

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