Take Back the Knife: “Drive Angry” and five other Amber Heard films of note

“Take Back the Knife” is a monthly column about women in horror by genre writer/director Stacie Ponder.

If I had a time machine, I would grab a copy of Drive Angry 3D (which opens today) and travel back to 42nd Street in New York circa 1974 so I could see the film the way it’s meant to be seen: in a grindhouse theater.

Drive Angry is pure ludicrous exploitation flick, all action and so over-the-top, the top might as well not exist. It’s violence, fast muscle cars, blood, foul language, sex, full-frontal nudity, simultaneous sex and violence, and some more violence- it’s more a movie that happens to you than it is a movie you simply watch. As such, it would be best served up in a lo-fi setting where the floors are sticky, the popcorn is of an indeterminate vintage, and the stains on the seats mean your pants get a Silkwood shower when you get home.

I don’t have a time machine, however, and though I’m still coming to grips with it, we no longer live in the 1970s. However, the fact that it’s only available in the sterile environment of the local megacineplex doesn’t mean that Drive Angry isn’t worth your time, because it most certainly is. Well, I suppose I should temper that statement: if you enjoy having your senses assaulted by hyper-sexed and hyper-violent exploitation movies, you should let Drive Angry pummel your face. Pummel it with three dimensions of pummeling action!

Nicolas Cage stars as Milton, a felon who busts his way out of the joint to rescue his infant granddaughter from the clutches of a Satanic cult intent on sacrificing the baby. He meets up with Piper (Amber Heard), a small-town waitress who can punch as hard as she can rock a pair of Daisy Dukes; together they hit the road and, you know, drive angry from Colorado all the way to Louisiana. They also drive angrily.

Oh, by the way, that joint Milton breaks out of? It’s Hell. Literally.

I swear, it’s like director/writer Patrick Lussier and writer Todd Farmer read my dream diary before they penned this flick. It is simply ridiculous amounts of fun, and nearly two hours of pure escapism. Though the film takes its unseriousness very seriously, all that nudity and violence is likely to turn some people off- it may even outright offend some … just like a good exploitation film should.

I’ve not been a fan of Cage’s work over … oh, I’d say the last decade or so, but Drive Angry is a real return to his Vampire’s Kiss/Raising Arizona days of glory. Behind his stoic demeanor, you can tell he’s actually having a blast as Milton; how could he not? I mean, in one extended sequence, he blows away about 15 bad guys while still … err, attached to his completely naked sex partner. Later, he drinks beer out of a skull. As Shakespeare might say, verily, ’tis an effing riot.

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