Purgatory Road

 It get's weird.  We just accept things as if they are normal. Time, matter, civilization. None of them make any sense, but we pretend like they do. To do otherwise would invite madness. 

Mark Savage understands this.

Mark Savage isn't fucking around. Savage has become a king of low budget exploitation films.  He's known for movies like Circus of Dread, Stressed to Kill, and Defenceless. His films are high tension, gore dripping,  weird rides.  Now he's given us something that seems like a labor of love.

Purgatory Road slams genres together and listens the their bones shatter. This movie is an assault by a man who understands where the soft spots are. He's studied anatomy.  He knows which tendon to sever to keep you in your seat.

Purgatory Road is a twisted southern gothic, of sorts. The locations smell of the deep south, and create a real sense of place that becomes almost a character in itself.

The movie features Gary Cairns as Father Vincent, a preacher who travels around in a Winnebago preaching a strange gospel that's heavy on the Mosaic idea of vengeance.  He metes it out with a blade.

Early on we get a confessional scene that devolves into dismemberment.  It's played straight,  and is downright terrifying.

Cairns gives off extreme Night of the Hunter vibes, and I don't think that's accidental. I doubt that there is any movie featuring a killer preacher that Savage failed to study.

Father Vincent and his brother travel around selling salvation. Or, what passes for salvation in their minds. Mostly it's blood.

At the outset the movie sets up a missing person story, then introduces us to the preacher and his brother,  initiates us into their homicidal world, hints at something otherworldly,  then gives us Mary.

Mary is portrayed perfectly by Trista Robinson.  We first see her from above, beautifully lit, reclining on a big bed looking for all the world like the ultimate pin-up girl. She's talking on the phone to a radio DJ, and maybe confessing to murder.  She looks like an angel,  but she's got very bad habits. She's the kind of girl who smokes while receiving oral sex.

All of this and we're only 15 minutes in. Remember to keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times, kiddies.

You can probably guess that Mary and Father Vincent will come together.

Mary leaves a string of dead bodies as she makes her way toward our Killer theists. A bit of mystery builds off to the side of the main plot, but it almost feels at times like the movie forgets about that.

That's okay, though.  The film does such a good job building up tension,  then releasing it with explosive violence that the audience doesn't have time to think about it.

At one point Vincent picks us a young woman cyclist and and takes her into the confessional.  The way the scene is edited and scored is un-fucking-nerving in the extreme.  If you have any Xanax, you might want to take it before she gets in the vehicle.

That's really when the movie finds its rhythm.  From that point on,  we're locked in. Savage hits the accelerator and steers into the madness.

The final act is absolute bonkers.  It shouldn't work at all. It wouldn't work if the cast ever winked, or hammed it up. They don't.  They remain earnest and invested.  That keeps us invested too.

I don't want to spoil the major reveals that come in the last forty-five minutes or so, but suffice to say the movie takes a hard turn that should delight horror fans.

The movie plays well as allegory . It has things to say about false piety and the dangers of religious extremism.  These are things that are especially important to talk about at this particular moment in history .

I would be remiss not to mention how beautifully shot the film is. I mentioned the very southern locations before. Savage frames the exterior shots like moody oil paintings.  He finds the right interplay of shadow and light, and uses dingy blue hues in places that really work the tone.

The score by Glen Gabriel is masterful.  Low budget films often suffer from limp or repetitive music. That isn't the case here. Gabriel treats the film like a big budget award bait film, and elevates the entire affair.

Purgatory Road is a blood drenched masterpiece.  It's a must see for anyone who who likes crazy, gory, dark, weird films.

Are you picking up what I am putting down? If so, maybe check out  Bloodfest the Podcast
 on youtube. 

Or, at https://www.bloodfestpodcast.com/

Or Couch Thing


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