It’s been awhile since I reviewed a movie that you, dear reader, probably have no chance of ever seeing — and it’s probably been even longer since I reviewed one of Nick Millard’s SOV masterpieces — so why not kill two birds with one stone and take a look at 1986’s Gunblast (also released internationally under the title Mac 10), which is just over 60 minutes or pure, unfiltered, near-pathologically lackadaisical ennui from the man who is the one and only master of said rarified sub-genre, and that you can only find (if you’re truly lucky) on VHS from the late, and in no way lamented, Mogul Video.
Yup, not only has no one ever attempted to sort out whatever rights issues might be holding this up to release it on DVD, but nobody’s even bothered to make a rip of it from their old videotape to slap up on YouTube. I guess they figure either no one would be interested in watching it, no one would be able to stay awake all the way through it, or both.
I’m here to tell you that, of course, “they” are absolutely wrong At least when it comes to the “no one would be interested in watching it” part. That’s because Gunblast, while admittedly not something that will be palatable to everyone’s tastes, is nevertheless a work of absolute — if accidental — genius, and is a very worthy entry indeed in Millard’s action-free “action” movie trilogy that began with .357 Magum in 1977, took a long break before continuing here and, finally, wound up (or down, depending on how you look at things) with 1988’s The Terrorists.
Please understand — if you actually like action, you might not enjoy Gunblast very much. If you like boobs, however, you probably will. Especially if you like watching guys mash their faces up between ’em. In fact, our ostensible “hero” in this one, ex-con Roy Grant (played by Millard regular Marland Proctor, here billed as Lloyd Allan for reasons I can’t pretend to know anything about), sticks his head between “heroine” Maria Schneider (Christina Cardan)’s ta-tas a lot. Hell, he does it twice in a row, and for a good five minutes or so each time. He’s got good reason for that, though, of course — not only are her boobs pretty nice, but more or less the same exact scene is playing out consecutively.
Confused yet? Allow me to at least attempt to clarify. Upon release from the big house, our guy Roy holes up in a seedy motel, where he watches TV, reads Playboy magazines, chain smokes, eats beans and wieners from a can — you know the drill. In typical Millard time-killing fashion, this is all shown in excruciating detail. Then he goes to a porn theater and watches an extended clip of Uschi Digard doing what she does best — licking her own breasts — that’s taken right from the director’s own softcore number Fancy Lady (those familiar with Millard’s ouevre will know that re-using scenes from previous flicks is one of his tried-and-true staples). Then he gets a knock at the door — a door that appears, by the way, to be stained with what I hope is chocolate syrup — and it’s the aforementioned Ms. Schneider, who offers Roy (this is a direct quote) “50% of a half-million dollars” if he’ll her rip off her ex-boyfriend for his heroin and money at the Mexican border. He says no. Then he rubs his face between her tits for, like, ever and changes his mind says yes.
Just in case you didn’t get all that, though, Millard stages the whole thing again, more or less verbatim — in another room.
I know that pulling double-duty as a writer and director can be tough, but here’s the thing : I honestly don’t think Millard forgot that he’d already shot that entire scene. And I don’t even think he figured it was so damn good that he should just do it a second time, in a (slightly) different location. As anyone who’s seen either of his Death Nurse or Criminally Insane flicks can tell you, the regular rules of having an actual reason for doing something just don’t apply to our guy Nick. He’s so far beyond that. He just did the whole thing twice in a row because he felt like it and because he could. I ask you, friends, is there any more noble an artistic impulse than that?
Okay, yeah, having 60 minutes of camcorder tape to burn through and only about 30 minutes of actual story might just have a little something to do with it, as well —but let’s not harp on trivialities like that.
So, where does the rest of the time go? So many wonderful places it’s hard to fathom. We’re treated to, in no particular order : more re-used footage from old Millard skin flicks; guns that fire, no kidding, a hundred-plus rounds per minute; characters having one-sided conversations with walls when the actor they’re supposed to be talking to isn’t there to shoot that particular scene; the same actors (including Millard regulars like Albert Eskinazi and Ray Myles) turning up later in the movie and playing obviously the same characters they were earlier, but with different names; the weirdest and most annoying doorbell you’ve ever heard in your life; and transcendent lines like “Hey man, you fucked my woman last night. I’m going to kill you.”
What’s that, you say? The plot? You want to know about the fucking plot even after that laundry-list of other-worldly awesomeness? What are you, a square? Things go south. Off the rails. Down the toilet. Up shit creek. Oh, and tits up. Of course. But you knew that already.
The beauty of it is, though, that it absolutely, positively, unequivocally doesn’t matter. You don’t watch Nick Millard movies for the story. You don’t watch them for the acting. You don’t watch them for the characterization. You don’t watch them for the action. And you don’t even watch them for the boobs-to-face mash-ups. You watch them because nobody else ever made movies the way he did and no one else ever will because no one else would a)want to; or b)know how to. There’s no mistaking Millard’s work for that of anyone else just as there’s no way Millard could possibly make a film the way anyone else makes them. He operates by his own set of quite-likely-not-of-this-dimension rules. Things like shot composition, logically sound dialogue, sensibly-placed musical cues, or coherent storylines are beneath his notice. His mind is just plain moving too fast to even consider such banalities. He’s working at 1000 MPH to come up with films that — irony of all ironies — move at a truly glacial pace. He can barely fill up an hour’s worth of tape — and has to recycle 25% or more of the material we see from his other movies to do it — but it feels like six. Or seven. Or more.
You can call that crap if you want. Many people certainly have. But do any of them know the sort of genius it takes to pull something like that off? No way. Not in the million years it feels like Gunblast drags on for could Millard’s critics ever come up with anything remotely like it. I have a feeling that time will be much kinder to Nick Millard than it will to the rest of us, so take your cheap shots while you can — one day his work will be studied, celebrated, maybe even spoken of in hushed and reverent tones. His films may, in fact, pretty much all be the same — but his overall body of work is well and truly singular.