Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Rockswill: "Rockwell" (1994)

NBA player Karl Malone needs to keep his day job.

***SLIGHT SPOILERS*** No, this film is not an epic bio of painter Norman Rockwell, or the one hit wonder ("Somebody's Watching Me") from the '80's. This weak western is much more horrible than you can imagine.

Randy Gleave plays Porter Rockwell, a long haired, bearded friend of Mormons Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Gleave looks like he is auditioning for the dinner theater production of "Jim Morrison: The Paris Days," and he, too, saunters around as if on some "medication." Smith is killed and Rockwell moves to Utah, where he must deal with the same land grabbers who had Smith gunned down and was also responsible for killing other families back in Illinois. Rockwell becomes marshal, and rumor has it he cannot be killed because of his long hair. The end features a final showdown with the lead land grabber and a snake pit.

The villains are so broadly written and played, you half expect them to be described as "nefarious" and "dastardly," while they twirl their mustaches and tie virgins to railroad tracks. First of all, this film is really really cheap. I swear the film makers used the same log cabin to film everyone's exteriors, no matter if they lived in Illinois or Utah. The costuming seems to consist of actors bringing what they thought was old from home. Modern hairstyles and clothing can often be spotted. The rest of the exterior shots were done on a state park somewhere, and you can see modern doorknobs, and even a modern city in the background of one shot (as the villain describes the frontier town he has arrived in as "quaint.")

The opening scenes have a child gunned down, and Gleave is hit on by not one, but TWO preteen girls trying to find a husband. Both scenes are really squirm inducing. The whole film is just Rockwell getting shot at, then killing whoever was responsible.

Karl Malone looks clueless as to how he got stuck in this in the first place. As Rockwell's friend, he shoots and runs around, but his character's only purpose here seems to be to give Karl something to do onscreen. There is an embarrassing scene where Rockwell and Malone are in a play together, and Rockwell forgets his lines. I think the director (who also wrote this) was trying to be funny, but my jaw was agape in how bad the scene was, and how long it dragged out. For fun, count the number of characters who use colorful words like "ain't" and "reckon" non-stop. The editing feels like one of those nine hour TV mini-series that are edited down to an hour and a half, then released on video as a "movie," with narration added to fill in the gaps.

This movie is hard to find on video for a reason, it is awful. Stay away from "Rockwell." (*) out of five stars.