Straight to Hell (1987)


After Three Businessmen I decided to jump right into another Alex Cox movie and went for Straight to Hell. Now this thing is just pure entertainment. Mashing together a kaleidoscope of genres with a who’s who cast of celebrity faces (Joe Strummer, Jim Jarmusch, Courtney Love, Dennis Hopper, Grace Jones and Elvis Costello all make appearences) Cox’s gonzo sort-of Western makes every second of it’s 80 minute running time count.

You get the sense this film was made very quickly as it moves with a real spring in its step. There doesn’t seem to have been much room for second guessing as a lot of the ideas feel impulsive and born out of gut-instinct. This isn’t a bad thing, in fact it’s what makes Straight to Hell so nutty and fun to unravel. It’s difficult to guess where this movie is heading at any one time because it doesn’t play by the rules. The film happily cartwheels from contained episodic delights to more long-form plotting and it really works.

Upon it’s release the film probably baffled viewers as they no doubt tried to put it in a box and measure it up against more conventional fare. Bad idea. The best thing to do with Straight to Hell, perhaps more so than any other Alex Cox film I’ve seen so far, is just to give yourself over to it’s recklessness. It’s a wild ride and an addictive one that indulges in the most enjoyable elements of the most enjoyable genres. I can’t wait to revisit it over and over again.

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