Thursday, September 29, 2011

HALLOWEENAGE #4: THE VAGRANT (1992)

I think I've mentioned before that my work involves an unsettling amount of interaction with the homeless.  Not the homeless that live in sentimental imaginations, struggling and waiting heroically for but one open slot in productive society, flinging tears to the wind as they hop trains into the sunset.  Nope, my homeless screech across the room about how they found a new Facebook game and they want fifteen more minutes to finish it and try to set the building on fire when they can't have it OR whip out their iPhones when it's raining and tell someone, "There are gonna be lots of people at the shelter tonight, so I'm just gonna get a room at the Marriott".  There are almost certainly some of the tragically homeless of emo lore out there, but I don't know any since all my homeless are homeless because they've alienated or abused all of their friends with homes and cash. 

Not since Russ Meyer has a sex scene been this ridiculous.
So this is a movie called THE VAGRANT, about a yuppie-ish white collar guy named Graham who's menaced by a monstrous bum.  "Menaced" is probably too strong a word, as initially the vagrant, apart from showing up IN Graham's new home, doesn't really do anything.  He sits in a vacant lot across the street, munching on rancid-looking dead things.  But Graham freaks out and overreacts, right, and lays out megabucks to install an absurdly complicated security system (it plays music when you're not home to fool people.  I mean, really.).  But soon bodies start piling up!  Sort of!  There is one body!  And Graham must effect an escape from the vagrant that may or may not be responsible.
This is not really a horror film, although it has horror elements.  It's much more akin to the black comedy films that briefly proliferated in the late 80s/early 90s (think THE 'BURBS and THE DARK BACKWARD).  The plot is pretty loosey-goosey, as Graham departs his swank new digs for trailer parks and life on the road, meeting all sorts of quirky characters along the way.  Thankfully, THE VAGRANT isn't annoying like modern quirkers of the JUNO stripe.  Director Chris (THE FLY II) Walas keeps it nice and dark, bustling with schadenfreude, and Bill Paxton as Graham, Michael Ironside as a cop named Barfuss(!), and Marshall "The Vagrant" Bell all acquit themselves mighty finely.  The minor players give their all, too, especially Patrika Darbo's lusty shut-in Doattie, purveyor of that cake up there, who makes the best upsetting squealing sounds.
Worth your time for sure, as I laughed out loud a couple of times and was pretty consistently amused.  Good luck finding it, though, as it's not on DVD anywhere in the world to my knowledge.  Check pawn shops for VHS or, failing that, you can buy the full movie on IMDB.  Or maybe dig in a dumpster for a copy.  Or harass people until they buy it FOR you!

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