Friday, July 1, 2016

The Vagrant (1992)

It's July and it's as hot as hell outside. I don't know why, but that always puts me in the mood for horror. Maybe it's because I enjoy seeing fictional characters suffering more than I am. You get extra points if you manage to make me laugh while showing me bad things happening to good people or—even better—good people doing bad things.

I've always loved this stupid poster

Check this out: The Vagrant stars Bill Paxton, Michael Ironside, Marshall Bell, and Collen Camp. That's a killer cast, but each supporting character exists in a bubble isolated from the others. If you don't see them interacting with Paxton you just don't see them interacting at all. He's been a good lead in other films, but here he's weighted down with more than he can handle.

Paxton plays Graham Krakowski, which is pronounced "Crack-house-ski" by some characters. He has a stable yet mind-numbing office job, which allows him to buy a fixer-upper from his nymphomaniacal real estate agent (Camp). Soon he'll learn there's a bum in the neighborhood (Bell) who has been squatting on a nearby lot. When Krakowski discovers the guy occasionally relieves himself in nearby bushes, he takes out a second mortgage and fortifies the property with the best security money can buy. This includes a perimeter fence, stadium lights, and an automatic music player that makes intruders think someone's at home when they're not.

After spending every dime on this worthless stuff—worthless because it doesn't stop the bum from letting himself into Krakowski's house—he realizes he should have bought furniture instead of Pentagon-level security. So he has the inside of the house decorated at his girlfriend's insistence and puts it all on his credit cards. Now that he's probably ensured he'll spend the rest of his life in debt, the bum's antics drive him crazy, he loses his job, and an over-the-top homicide detective (Ironside) is trying to finger him for a murder the bum actually committed.

after watching this trailer you won't have to watch the actual movie

Did I mention this is supposed to be a horror-comedy? I like funny horror movies, but this one isn't scary and it isn't very funny, either. I mean, if you think optimistic people who pursue the American dream are hopelessly hilarious suckers then sure, you might think it's kind of funny. Maybe you think characters who are unrealistically weird are funny, too. But if you don't, you're probably not going to like The Vagrant.

I didn't like it, but I wish I did. The concept was ripe to become a cult classic and I'm a fan of all these actors. This is actually my second viewing and I was hoping I would notice satirical complexities I was too young to pick up on the first time around. Nope. It's shallow and intentionally cheesy (the worst kind of cheese) and pretty incompetent to boot.

No, The Vagrant isn't a terrible movie, just mediocre. That's usually worse than a terrible movie, but this one still manages to entertain here and there. Yet I can safely say there won't ever be a third viewing in my lifetime.

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