In my search through the musty vaults of the Netflix basement, I came across this bonkers hallucination of a movie. Wesley Snipes plays a mystical gunman hunting undead outlaws. So we’re talking Wild West Blade. I am intrigued. Let’s check it out, shall we?
This movie answers the question of what would happen if Wesley Snipes and like six of his friends wandered out into the desert with a handful of weird costumes, a crate of bad wigs, and just a big ol’ mess of peyote to make a Western. All I needed to see was the image of Wesley Snipes in a cowboy hat, dreads and a white goatee to know I’d be in for something special. Not necessarily “good” special. Wesley hasn’t made a good movie since the 90s, but his involvement is usually a much better indication of an entertaining time than a Dolph Lundgren, Steven Seagal, or Chuck Norris.
Wesley Snipes in stoic Man With No Name mode narrates over dusty western hellscapes. “Somewhere beneath these mountains lies the gateway between heaven and hell. It is said that a sacred sisterhood guards this portal. And the power of their prayers keeps the Damned from tormenting the living. Trouble with the Damned is they never stay put.” I will pause here to mention that this narration explains nothing about the movie, but sets the correct tone of complete earnestness mixed with absurd mysticism. Sadly, there are no magical nuns under the mountains. And like the narration, the movie itself doesn’t make a lick of sense. But that shouldn’t interfere with your appreciation of it. To quote a much repeated mantra of the Legendary Drive-In Movie Reviewer Joe-Bob Briggs, “There’s not a lot of plot to get in the way of the story.”
The “plot” boils down to some scumbags who raped and murdered(?) Wesley’s woman. So he shoots them all in jail. Then Wesley is killed (not really a spoiler). Then they all come back from the dead and Wesley has to shoot them all again in their heads.
The story begins at a ramshackle “farm” in the middle of the desert. Apparently this movie was filmed in Namibia so we haven’t seen deserts and mountains like these before. The stark landscape is impressive. A kid in a horrible blonde wig carries two buckets of blood to the blood holding well. This is a misdirect, because there are no vampires in the movie. I’m okay with that because it would be a very short movie with vampires turned to charcoal briquettes instantly in the unforgiving Namibian sunshine.
A solo rider appears and the kid hides in the storm basement. The rider is Wesley Snipes in impressive rodeo duds. The costumes in this movie are quite outlandish. It’s as if they spent their entire budget on costumes and didn’t have enough money to give anybody else decent hairpieces.
We learn the dead guy is named “Red”, probably because of his terrible red wig. Wesley chops off his head. We then flashback to the rape of Wesley’s girlfriend Sueno, although Wesley pronounces it “Sue En-no”, by a pack of filthy, sweaty scuzzbags. The Head Psycho, Kansa, played with lusty intensity by Kevin Howarth, is laughing hysterically. Hey man, that’s not funny. These guys are all loathsome and they need an ass-kicking lesson taught by Professor Snipes.
Then we go to probably the most impressive looking scene with three priests dressed in scarlet robes riding on a pump car through the middle of the desert. I’m guessing the film budget didn’t extend to a real train engine. But in the low-budget filmmaking world when the budget gives you lemons, have characters ride on a pump car operated by a Chinese worker, who wisely leaves the film before the killin’ gets started.
Someone was watching Once Upon a Time in the West more than a couple times as they rehash the “Too many horses” scene. So I have to deduct some points there. The priest has sewed his own mouth shut, as we learn in flashback. We also learn that Wesley has killed him before, which hasn’t stopped him from riding around on trains with similarly attired gauchos. They are all promptly dispatched of by Wesley, who rips the sewed-up priest’s head off in a geyser of blood.
This should give you an idea of some of the insanity in this movie. For some reason, Kansa doesn’t have any skin, just muscles and sinew. He has a dude killed and takes his skin and bad blonde wig. One of his henchmen wears a big metal helmet on his head and is called “Skull Bucket.” He is played by former WCW World Champion “Diamond” Dallas Page. As the film goes along, Page develops a skin condition which necessitates the bucket on his head, and he looks like The Elephant Man by the end. Why? Add it to the list of questions I have about this movie. Another henchman apparently passed on wearing a crappy wig, so instead he has some iguana tails sewed to his head. He’s one of my favorite characters in the movie.
So the story unfolds as the bad guys murder an entire town of villagers in ridiculous blonde wigs. Kansa is toting around his mummified son, wondering how to revive him from the dead. And Wesley sits around at the dirt farm waiting for the villains to come get him. That’s sort of the movie in the nutshell. Oh, and about a dozen flashbacks to the assault and Wesley shooting dudes in the jail.
In my favorite scene, one of the Gallowwalkers infiltrates the Snipes family farm by disguising himself as a goat, like in those Looney Tunes cartoons with a coyote and a sheep dog. The Goat Impersonator gets the drop on Wesley’s useless stud sidekick when Wesley absolutely liquefies his head with a shotgun. They did not spare any expense on the CGI blood budget. So Wesley has a rifle and about 1000 yards of clear view when the army of baddies decide to charge straight at him at full gallop. Let’s just say Wesley Snipes teaches us some very valuable ass-kicking lessons. Then Skull Bucket and Wesley have a wonderful shovel fight that goes on for what feels like an hour. Then the movie gets gloriously ridiculous.
BOTTOM LINE: You’ve probably never seen a movie like this before, except for the parts that were stolen from Sergio Leone westerns. Those parts you have seen before. But otherwise it’s a phantasmagoric Western with bizarre, horrific images. It also has a great animated end title sequence that should’ve played at the beginning as it helpfully gives everyone’s character’s names, long after I needed to know who they all were. I also want to tell you about my second favorite scene where Iguana Head ridiculously gets the jump on Sueno from literally out of nowhere as they’re standing on the top of a desolate mountain. Wesley does a Loony Tunes double-take, like he can’t believe that just happened, either. Then he blows him away. I quite enjoyed this movie. This is the kind of movie Netflix was invented for.