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NIGHT OF THE BASTARD (aka MARLON, 2022)
Directed by Erik Boccio.
Written by Erik Boccio, Christian Ackerman, Chuck Foster.
Starring London May, Mya Hudson, Hannah Pierce, Henry Mortensen, Victoria Goodhart, Wesley Doloris, George Garcia, Eric Spudic, Cesar Cipriano, Philip J Rossi, Avery Joy Davis, Luke B. Carlson, Talia Martin, Mig Windows, Sam Ashrafuzzman, Richard Follin, Ken May, Christopher McEvoy
Reed is the Bastard (played by London May) , a hermit living with his turtle Marlon in a mobile home in the middle of the desert. It seems Reed once lived as a part of the world, but he no longer does and he likes it that way. When an out of breath and wounded woman named Kiera (Mya Hudson) bangs on his door, he is pulled into a conflict with the cult pursuing her. Led by sultry priestess Claire (played by Hannah Pierce), the group lays siege to Reed’s trailer in order to retrieve Kiera for their own reason, leaving Kiera, Reed and Marlon to fight tooth and nail against the evil cultists.
I get what the filmmakers behind NIGHT OF THE BASTARD are going for. There is a gritty and grimy feel to not only the film, but the characters in the film and the actors playing them. The first time we see the Bastard, he wakes up passed out on the ground in the middle from a drunken stupor. He’s pissed himself and is severely hung over, so he just hangs up his pants to dry and walks into his mobile home buck naked. It’s a hell of an intro and one I could see pulled off by a Steve McQueen or a Warren Oates. It’s a dusty, grindhousey, down to earth, and flawed kind of hero you’d see in a seventies schlocker. NIGHT OF THE BASTARD is made for cheap but done so with a deep appreciation for those seventies drive in flicks that were not out to change the world, but just give you a rollicking good time for a little while before you start making out with your date.
For the most part, NIGHT OF THE BASTARD succeeds in giving a violent and bloody story as the cult goes against the Bastard and the gal under his watch. The bad guys are indeed bad and realized comically differing from one another. There’s a punk rocker, a hippie, a body builder, an old witch, and the witchy cult leader. It’s one of those mish mash groups that would never really come together, but it makes each baddie look distinct and provide a unique challenge to our bastard hero. The action is brutal and extremely violent. It is evident the people behind this film took glee in making each kill different and very bloody.
Unfortunately, London May isn’t the best of actors and while he physically pulls off the gnarly action and looks the part of the grizzled leading man, his line delivery just isn’t great. A lot of the others in this film are not the best in the acting department either. This makes the down time when the drama is supposed to be communicated a bit of a drudge. The pace is a bit wonky, as is the timeline, but these types of issues plague all grindhousey films which are much more focused on boobs, blood, and body parts.
This isn’t the type of movie that’s going for any kind of Oscar. It’s got boobs, guns, splosions, blood, and all kinds of fun action sequences. It’s also got a turtle which I found myself strangely endeared to. NIGHT OF THE BASTARD is low fi schlock and proud of it. There’s an audience for that. It’s not up to tier with such modern grindhouse greats as HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, THE EDITOR, SHE KILLS, or DEAR GOD NO! which deliver an inspired amount of over the top action, raunchy humor, in your face irony, gut churning gore, and just plain goddamn wrongness. But NIGHT OF THE BASTARD definitely fits into the same category with these grindhousey standouts.