Monday, July 10, 2017

Cop Killers (1973)

          Pointless and sadistic but also intense and single-minded, Cop Killers tells the simple story of two longhairs on a crime spree. More specifically, it tells the story of a wannabe drug dealer who realizes that his partner is a psychopath. There’s no hero in this movie, so the dramatic question is how much violence Alex (Bill Osco) can stomach before he stands up to Ray (Jason Williams). Similarly, watching this movie asks viewers how much senseless bloodshed they can endure before looking away. Although Cop Killers is not excessively gory, it’s so relentlessly unpleasant that its magnetism is of the I-can’t-make-myself-look-away variety. Which is not to say that Cop Killers is anything special. On the levels of acting, characterization, and storyline, it’s mediocre at best, and some elements are laughably bad, notably a handful of supporting performances. Yet because the picture starts with action, then follows a straight line from the protagonists acquiring their stash to their final hookup with a buyer, the piece has a certain purity of vision. Cop Killers never pretends to be anything but a lit fuse leading to an explosion. Furthermore, Williams’ starring performance as the unhinged Ray is singularly committed; although his work isn’t particularly skilled, he swings for the fences in every scene.
          The picture opens with the boys collecting five kilos of coke from an air drop in the desert. They’ve made plans to sell the dope for $100,000. A run-in with border-patrol officers leads to gunfire, and by the end of the shootout, four cops are dead. Intoxicated by violence, Ray spends the subsequent journey kidnapping and murdering and raping people. Meanwhile, Alex watches the body count rise. In terms of motivation and plotting, none of this makes much sense, but cowriter/director Walter R. Cichy renders a few sharp moments—the bit with the ice-cream man getting dangled out the door of his truck as it barrels down a remote road is particularly nasty. Cichy also tries, weakly, to give Ray an anti-establishment persona. After the first shootout, Ray castigates Alex for being reluctant to kill police officers, then boasts about his own lethal efficacy: “See that, man? That’s fuckin’ pig blood! If I was scared, that would’ve been my blood!” Is there a thematic reason for all this ugliness? No. But for better or worse, Cop Killers doesn’t cop out.

Cop Killers: FUNKY

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