Texas Night Train

  • 2001
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Experimental, Mystery

Like a true poseur, this digital video oddity from painter-turned-director Shanti Guy is far too concerned with how it looks to amount to much in terms of substance: There's talent here, but it's going to waste. "I been all over, and I been there on the Texas night train," growls a weary whisky voice over the film's heavily distorted soundtrack, although...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Like a true poseur, this digital video oddity from painter-turned-director Shanti Guy is far too concerned with how it looks to amount to much in terms of substance: There's talent here, but it's going to waste. "I been all over, and I been there on the Texas night train," growls a weary whisky voice over the film's heavily distorted soundtrack, although who's talking and what he's talking about are just two of the film's many mysteries. This much, however, is clear, relatively speaking: Latter-day hipster Jake (Chuck Huber) styles himself as though it were still 1957 and tools around Texas in a vintage Caddy. He gets himself into a mess of trouble when he buys a strange lady named Mae (Lydia Mackay) a drink in a juke joint on the south side of nowhere. But Mae ain't no lady: She's a Louisiana swamp queen, a voodoo witch who dabbles in mumbo jumbo and the black market organ trade. After doctoring his drink, Mae knifes Jake in the parking lot; the next morning, he wakes up missing one kidney and handcuffed to the railroad tracks. Jake tears free just in time to save his life and hop aboard the oncoming freight, where a guitar-picking hobo (Lloyd W.L. Barnes Jr.) lets him in on a secret. There are only two ways Jake can free his soul from Mae's witchy clutches: He can kill her, or he can get her to reverse the spell. And this hobo ought to know: He's short a kidney himself. Thus begins Jake's strange odyssey through a netherworld of looped dialogue, endless scenes of nothing in particular (Jake shaves, Jake smokes, Jake rides a chopper, Jake steals beer) and just about every optical trick you can do with a video camera. We feel Jake's torment. Marrying ersatz Beat poetry with the urban legends and the creepy imagery of deep Texas gothic, Shanti still comes up short. Clearly influenced by David Lynch, Shanti has an eye for the bizarre, and his personal taste for the more deranged end of neo-rockabilly means the soundtrack is filled with some serious twisted torch and twang: "Moppin' the Floor with My Baby's Head" is a classic of some sort. But this is a one-idea film, and what would have made a great three-minute music video makes for a tedious 75-minute feature.

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  • Released: 2001
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Like a true poseur, this digital video oddity from painter-turned-director Shanti Guy is far too concerned with how it looks to amount to much in terms of substance: There's talent here, but it's going to waste. "I been all over, and I been there on the Te… (more)

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