I hadn't seen Alex Cox's Straight to Hell since forever, but Barak Epstein at the Texas Theatre was kind enough to provide a copy yesterday in advance of its re-appearance at the Oak Cliff movie house tomorrow night -- the first of four nights paying homage to the filmmaker. Well, technically, it wasn't Straight to Hell, but Cox's lovingly done redux: Straight to Hell Returns, which played in New York and Los Angeles at year's end before going to DVD.
A recut of the filmmaker's gangster-spaghetti western mash-up starring (among others) Joe Strummer, Sy Richardson, Dick Rude, an almost unrecognizable Courtney Love, Elvis Costello, Dennis Hopper, Jim Jarmusch and the Pogues, Straight to Hell Returns has been fleshed out with deleted scenes, augmented with digital blood-n-guts and remastered for your viewing pleasure. It's still an unholy mess -- rock stars on vacation armed with blanks and booze -- but also an immense pleasure. And it's a cinematic necessity, for in the desert of Almeria is where Sergio Leone birthed Quentin Tarantino.
The film screens twice tomorrow night -- at 8, then again at 10:20. In between, Epstein will conduct a Q&A with Cox -- over the phone, as he did with the Flaming Lips's Wayne Coyne following a Christmas on Mars screening. Says Epstein, who just confirmed the chat, "Alex lives in a cabin in the woods and doesn't have Internet, otherwise we would have done it over Skype. We put a mike up to somebody's phone, and it works all right."
Straight to Hell Returns marks the first of four nights' worth of Cox screenings: Sid & Nancy is Thursday (along with the extraordinary Strummer doc The Future is Unwritten); Repo Chick follows Friday; Repo Man, the first Cox essential, pulls in Saturday. Repo Chick, of course, is the '84 film's "not-quite sequel," per our Karina Longsworth, whose more-or-less rave review you'll find here. Cox's latest, of course, hasn't screened locally and probably wouldn't were it not for the Texas, where Epstein, Jason Reimer and Eric Steele program what they want -- most of it, The Good Stuff, old and new, that has made the old movie house a new essential in record time.
Whatcha got in the trunk? Why, the trailers for Straight to Hell Returns, Sid & Nancy, Repo Man and Repo Chick after the jump.
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