Star – Kurt Russell
Genre – Action & Adventure > Western
Run Time – 132 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – USA
Awards – 7 Wins & 20 Nominations
Amazon – £5.00 DVD £17.21 Blue Ray
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Bone Tomahawk was Kurt Russell’s second big western release of 2016 alongside Tarantino’s lumbering and detailed Hateful 8, his best cowboy work sine Toombstone (1993). Those piercing blue eyes and rugged square jaw dressed with a wild beard make for a great frontiersman. He is excellent in all three and no man can cock and load a rifle with one hand like Russell, the best since john Wayne. This film is also the comeback movie for Mathew Fox, he of the mega TV series Lost, not so handsome these days but good to see he is still alive. Up and coming star Patrick Wilson completes the lead line up. It’s also the debut film feature film of S. Craig Zahler and an amazing debut to.
• Kurt Russell as Sheriff Franklin Hunt
• Patrick Wilson as Arthur O'Dwyer
• Matthew Fox as John Brooder
• Richard Jenkins as Deputy "Chicory" Kory
• Lili Simmons as Samantha O'Dwyer
• David Arquette as Purvis
• Sid Haig as Buddy
• Geno Segers as Boar Tusks
• Fred Melamed as Clarence
• Kathryn Morris as Lorna Hunt
• Sean Young as Mrs. Porter
• Evan Jonigkeit as Deputy Nick
• Eddie Spears as Serrated Tomahawk
• James Tolkan as The Pianist
• Raw Leiba as Wolf Skull
• Michael Paré as Mr. Wallington
• Jamison Newlander as The Mayor
• Zahn McClarnon as The Professor
• Jay Tavare as Sharp Teeth
• Brandon Molale as Noseless Troglodyte
It’s the 1890s on what today is the borderlands of Texas and New Mexico and two drifters, Purvis (David Arquette) and Buddy (Sid Haig), are making a living cowardly killing and robbing travelers by their campfires. After one such gruesome kill they are spooked by the sound of approaching horses and hide in the hills where they encounter a Native American burial site. A volley of arrows later and Buddy is killed and Purvis runs for his life.
Two weeks later, Purvis arrives in the small town of Bright Hope and buries his stolen belongings by a tree at night. Chicory (Richard Jenkins), the town's backup deputy, spots him and reports the suspicious actions to the towns Sheriff, Franklin Hunt (Kurt Russell). At Bright Hope saloon a standoff occurs between the sheriff and the evasive Purvis and the bad guy ends up in the town jail cell with a slug in his leg.
Hunt sends John Brooder (Matthew Fox), a local educated man and known womanizer to fetch the town's doctor but he is drunk and incapable at this hour. The doc’s assistant, Samantha O'Dwyer (Lili Simmons), attends instead. She has been tending her husband Arthur (Patrick Wilson) who rests at home with a broken leg through work as a foreman. Brooder escorts her to the jail to treat Purvis's wound. Leaving Samantha with Purvis and his deputy Nick (Evan Jonigkeit), Hunt and the others return home.
That night, at a stable house, a stable boy is gruesomely murdered by unseen attackers, his guts hanging out. Hunt thinks it’s an animal attack but the horses also missing. The jail is also empty and the docs assistant, Nick and Purvis long since gone, only an arrow left behind. Hunt calls in a local Native American man to examine the arrow. As the town’s folk gather at the saloon to discuss after last nights events, the Native American informs them the bad news that the arrow belongs to a troglodyte clan of savage Indians who have a taste for human flesh. He tells Hunt he will probably find them at ‘Valley of the Starving Men’, three days ride at best into uncharted badlands.
Certain that Samantha, Nick and Purvis had been kidnapped by them for their next banquette, Hunt gets up a posse to go after them. Even though Arthur can barely walk, let alone ride he will do anything to get his wife back and not taking no for an answer. Old man Chicory and Brooder volunteer to accompany them as Hunt and the trio hit the dust.
The first warning about this western is its extremely graphic in places and it may make you feel a bit queasy, a surprise for a western. From the opening scene of a bluntish knife cutting through a sleeping cowboys throat to cannibalistic scenes of scalping and a spiked being hammered into a mans rectum so he can be hung drawn and quartered in a cave its not for the feint hearted. That scene got me a bit and I didn’t feel great so if you are partial to panic attacks or feeling feint then don’t watch this film. The sound of the spike going in and the though of such a deaf is horrific, as is an exposed and throbbing brain on a living and breathing man. The last time I felt like that was the needle scene in Pulp Fiction. Because the film is so authentic and visceral at times and builds to this scene it tricks your brain to thinking its real some how and so you react. The worse thing is you are not expecting to react to it and that is powerful filmmaking. The Wild West was exactly that and that’s why everyone carried a gun. There were no rules, as there isn’t here.
For all the blood and guts it’s an enjoyable and well made film and has that authenticity and brutality of the superb Open Range but rhythms of the old style westerns like The Searchers threaded through this. The clichés are there but they don’t feel like them the way this is done. It’s a cowboy movie but not like you have seen before, John Ford meets Eli Roth, as one critic put it, mixing horror and all sorts in equal measure.
The Wild West panoramas look great and you are on those horses with the guys and saddle sore to-boot it’s that real. The use of oldy wordy frontier speak is also fun and adds to the films appeal that it is something new in the well trodden genre. Kurt Russell, of course, is brilliant as the sheriff, fair and brutal in equal measure.
For its $1.8m it’s a great movie and did a deserved $232m back, one of the most profitable films of 2015 in the cinema. There is no doubt great word of mouth sold this movie. That below $2m budget is a clue to the fact they hardly marketed this and new it was going to fly. Its well worth a look guys, if you have the constitution.
Imdb.com – 7.1/10.0 (44.753votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 90% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – % critic’s approval
-The Making Of-
Quite interesting stuff from cast & crew
Director and some of the cast do a chat before the premier on stage.
Time Out –‘Equal parts charming, strange, goofy, unpredictable and genuinely horrifying’.
NY Magazine –‘Bone Tomahawk is terrifying and strange, to be sure, but it's the old-fashioned veneer that makes it beautiful’.
Robert Egbert.com –‘While the genre jump from John Ford to Eli Roth may be off-putting to some, it raises the stakes on a climax in a way that most Westerns fail to do’.
NY Times –‘A witty fusion of western, horror and comedy that gallops to its own beat’.
Forth Worth Times –‘On the list of things the world needs, a mash-up of The Searchers and Hannibal is pretty far down there. But if there is going to be such a thing, the smartly cast and well-crafted Bone Tomahawk fills the bill nicely’.
Film Inquiry –‘Like many esteemed classics of the genre, Bone Tomahawk is an exploitation movie at heart, but has the courage of its convictions to treat its material as a gory grindhouse feature, albeit one made with love and effort’.
Total Film –‘Zahlers dialogue takes us effortlessly back to the Old West, the cast are excellent, and a few stumbles aside this is best campfire movie for some time.
Sydney Morning Herald –‘For 100 minutes or so, Bone Tomahawk plays out as a clever and truly enjoyable Western... and then the film turns all kinds of nasty’.