Men Cry Bullets
Cast: Steve Nelson, Honey Lauren, Jeri Ryan
The things I have to do in order to add to my movie
collection. Long-time devotees of this site will probably remember the
time I reviewed Sonny Boy.
While I gave it an enthusiastic review, I did note at the time that it
appeared to be cut from a longer version. Subsequently I found out from
the director himself that the version I saw was cut, and from another
reader I got a list of added scenes that were present in the United
Kingdom version. Naturally, I wanted to see this version for myself. It
wasn't long until I was contacted by a reader who had a copy of this
edit for myself, and offered to send it to me. There was one catch,
though; I would have to agree to review another movie he would send to
me, a movie that was made by a filmmaker friend of his. And it would be
one of those "homemade" movies. You know the kind, that are made by
those people who are the independent of independent filmmakers, those
who make movies from Completely Totally
Utterly to 23 Hours.
Well. That seemed a reasonable request to me. And after all, I had
previously written a positive review of one such movie (Lethal Force), and while I didn't
approve of those other two movies overall, there was a lot to admire
about them all the same. This particular one had a cool title - Men
Cry Bullets. My salivation only increased when I was told that
this movie just happened to be in the same vein as that of the demented
genius of Sonny Boy. So why not? Okay, I said. Send it
I think you know where this is going. Men Cry
Bullets turned out to be a terrible movie. A terrible, terrible
movie. It sucks, it sucks it sucks. IT SUCKS. I am repeating myself not
only to emphasize just how utterly awful it is, but also because I
realize I am now stuck with the arduous task of having to write a
full-length review of this... thing that supposed to be a movie. That
thing being called, if you happened to miss my explanation a few
sentences ago, Men With Bullets. Which is a movie that
sucks. Well, all that did bring me a little closer to getting to a
minimum word-count, though I do realize that I can't really keep
repeating myself. So what am I going to do? Hmmm. That's a tough
question. Isn't it? I think you agree. Don't you? Well, I realize it
makes no difference what you think, since either way I still have a job
to do. A promise is a promise, though, so I am determined that I'm
going to write a review of this movie one way or another. I'm gonna
find ya, I'm gonna get cha get cha get cha get cha - oh,
sorry. Just demonstrating how just about anything you write can
suddenly spark something in your memory.
Men Cry Bullets takes place in a city.
Probably Los Angeles, but I don't think it's made clear. The vague
locale fits in perfectly with the opening, which is so jumbled
that it's hard to tell what's going on at first. Eventually, we find
out we're at one of those popular kinky clubs, this one owned by a Mr.
Freddy Fishnets. You know, the kind that attract perverted customers
that like to see a woman contortionist arch her body while her hands
and feet are on the floor. Or a fat man in a diaper holding a baby
bottle while reading Emily Dickinson. Or - get this - a guy dressing
like a woman. That guy is Billy (Nelson), who the movie first
introduces to us by letting us hear him on the soundtrack throwing up.
Soon afterwards, we get to see him for ourselves - still throwing up,
and almost directly into the camera lens. Pretty realistic barfing, if
you ask me; they even provided a long string of drool and yecch hanging
down from his lips after the fact, as it often is in real life. Billy
is nervous, by the way. But he gets the nerve to put on his dress, wig,
and makeup after thinking about what seem to be at this point random
scenes filmed in black and white. Billy is introduced on stage, and
begins his dancing and lip-synching. He's about as successful at that
as he is appearing as a woman - which is absolutely unsuccessful. But
the crowd cheers at the sight of this downward-glancing
slowly-shuffling thing in a dress. All I can conclude from the crowd
reaction to this painful display is that this must be S&M night at
the club. I told you this was a kinky place.
One person in the audience isn't so pleased by the
cross-dressing Billy, however. That person is Gloria (Lauren, Vice
Academy series), who is outraged when she sees her boyfriend
dancing with Billy (and dancing much better than Billy, I must add.)
She runs up to the stage and gives Billy the ultimate humiliation - she
pulls his wig off. It's a crushing blow, symbolized by a shot of
Billy's hands squeezing the doffed wig. Then a subsequent shot of him
standing naked on stage, covering his genitals with the wig. Mr.
Fishnets tries to get Gloria to apologize, but she won't. So Billy
decides to try to get an apology on his own. Getting directions from
Diaper Man ("She lives in a scary house"), he arrives on her doorstep,
handing her a flower so she can give it back to him as a token of
apology. She is touched by this, so much so that she invites him in so
he can cook breakfast for her. Then in a further gesture of amends, she
then takes him into the shed behind the house and rapes him, as we hear
the grunts of her pet pig Billy saw her hug and kiss just before he
knocked on her door. Though very upset during and after the experience,
Billy quickly comes to the conclusion he's in love, and later that day
the two begin a torrid and abusive relationship. It's inevitable that
this relationship will turn sour, and that happens the next day, when
Gloria asks Billy to help her kill her visiting cousin Lydia (Ryan, Star
Trek: Voyager). See, Gloria's p***ed that Lydia not only played
videogames earlier that day with that aforementioned (and now ex)
boyfriend of hers, but that Lydia didn't know her pig was a pet,
butchering and cooking it up just a few hours earlier. Will Billy risk
it all for true love?
A more likely question any sane viewer would ask himself
at this point would be, "Why I am still watching this pointless
garbage?" That's not to say it is completely devoid of anything of
worth; most bad movies do have at least one thing good to say about
them, and Men With Bullets is no exception. For
example, take the musical score. Or rather, the songs used on the
soundtrack, performed mainly by a Margaret Owens and a Forest Artoro
Dunn. They are more than good. In fact, they are excellent, fresh and
original, going all the way from light and hummable to absolutely
haunting. Despite the rest of the movie being so agonizing to watch,
the songs were so great that there was still a part of me patiently
waiting to hear another one, and it's a shame that CD copies of this
soundtrack have never been made available.
Then there is the dialogue, which has a few lines that
manage to shake you from your stupor with their outrageousness or sheer
silliness, such as:
GLORIA: You know, I never usually apologize to
people unless I think the judge will give me a lighter sentence
GLORIA: Why did I have to turn 33?
BILLY: Don't worry, I'll help you.
GLORIA: Why would you want to help me? I just raped
GLORIA: [To pig] Come back! I'm your mother!
GLORIA'S MOTHER: Gloria, I want you back here tonight by 6 o'clock.
I don't want any of these all-night things going on while your cousin
is here. Don't want her thinking you're a slut
GLORIA: But I am a slut, mother.
BILLY: Your cousin is not so bad. She's just full of
I guess I also can't get away with filling the rest of
this review with samples of dialogue, so I'll have to get back to
talking about other attributes of the movie. So is there anything else
in the movie worthy of note? Let me check my notes... Well, it does
offer some visuals that are still unique after over a hundred years of
filmmaking. I don't know of any other movie that shows a fully frontal
nude man doing jumping jacks at an incredibly fast speed. Or a man
lifting two watermelons attached to chains that are fastened at the
other ends to his nipples. And while worm-eating may not be unique to
this movie, I can't think of any previous examples where the worms were
served on a silver platter.
Okay, I've finished listing everything that viewers
might possibly find of merit in Men Cry Bullets. Now I
can unhesitatingly rip the rest of it into miniscule pieces after it
not only gave me so much pain, but doing so for an incredibly long
time. Not just because of its punishing 105 minute running time, but
that it took me several days to finally get to its 105th minute.
Why do I hate this movie so much?
One reason is that there is not one likable character in
the movie. You don't necessarily need to make a character or characters
in a movie likable to make them compelling; take the Daniel Ray Hawkins
character in Confessions Of A Serial
Killer, whose monstrosity scared and fascinated its
audience. But the characters in Men Cry Bullets can't
convince us to embrace them, because they can't even seem to convince
themselves they are free-thinking individuals. Everything about these
characters comes off as contrived, as a strenuous effort to make them
cult movie figures, and they become grotesque as a result. Billy is
such a spineless wimp, so blubbery that you get angry at him instead of
laughing or being touched by his personal and professional struggles.
Gloria is so filled with venom against everything and everyone around
her, that her hate is not amusing or self-revealing, just instead a
single note she rings again and again. (It also makes her attraction to
Billy totally unconvincing.) Lydia's frequent poor judgment seems much
out of place for someone who otherwise comes across as sane and of
normal intelligence. None of these characters has any past, at least of
real substance that makes them more than exhibits of the worst
attributes found in humanity.
I also hate the acting in the movie. It's not that these
actors can't act, it comes across more that they failed to receive any
outside input and are doing the best they can by themselves. While a
good director will take into consideration as to how the actors
themselves suggest how to play out a scene, he or she will not only
tell the actors in the end how to play it, but make sure the
performances will be more or less constant from one scene to another.
But the actors in Men Cry Bullets often seem lost,
almost like they are struggling to improvise right on the spot. The
movie did have a breakneck schedule (a sixteen day shoot, with seven
pages shot a day), and this frenzied pace may have meant little time to
work on the acting. Ryan comes off best of all the actors, though only
because she seems somewhat less bewildered by it all.
And I hate the way the movie is directed. I could go for
paragraphs detailing incompetence like the technical attributes
(examples being soft, blurry photography and backgrounds being
overexposed), a constant inability to place the camera in the right
position (such as characters being in a boat for one long scene, but
you almost never see any part of the boat itself), or obvious mistakes
made by the actors that the director somehow never saw (like seeing one
character's elbow sticking out from behind a corner seconds before the
character enters the room.) But what I hate most of all is the delivery
and pace of the movie. This is an agonizingly slow movie; it takes the
better part of an hour before Gloria asks Billy to kill her cousin.
Every scene before that point (and after that point, for that matter)
not only hits down with a thud, it's extended to the point where the
echoes of the thud have long since dissipated. There's a cruel moment
about 75 minutes into the movie, where hope starts to build in us,
because there's the suggestion that everyone is about to die and give
us the happiest ending possible for this movie. It's cruel because not
only do the characters survive that incident, the movie then proceeds
to torture us for another half hour, showing us even more of these
characters' pointless, strident, hopeless, and loser lives.
I made it. Okay folks, move along now, nothing more to
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See also: Dr. Caligari, Shock Treatment, Sonny