Quentin Tarentino’s PULP FICTION meets CREEPSHOW, or perhaps FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE, in this hugely entertaining, comic-strip-themed, often outrageous anthology picture from writer Adam Minarovich (THE WALKING DEAD) and director Wayne Kramer (THE COOLER and CROSSING OVER). Also going under the rather less catchy title of PAWN SHOP CHRONICLES in its home country, HUSTLERS offers us three short stories that run into one another and are linked by the General Lee Pawn Shop in America’s Deep South.
First off is ‘The Shotgun’, in which two neo-nazi crystal meth addicts, who only go to their weekly white supremacist meetings because of the free sausages, decide to mug their dealer armed solely with a stolen bow and arrow. On the way they manage to run over the third in their party, who then enjoys a visit from a mysterious black-clad cowboy who could be from heaven or hell. After a lot more bumbling incompetence and plenty of meth-head comedy, the story ends predictably and explosively, with effects that will be felt in the stories yet to come.
‘The Ring (Caged Love)’ sees Matt Dillon coming into the pawn shop and finding a ring that previously belonged to his wife, missing and presumed dead for the last six years (all they found was a streak of blood on the driveway). His subsequent investigations lead him on the path the ring has taken over this time, and just when you think the story is going to be the weak segment of the three along comes Elijah Wood and his creepy and horrific sex hobby that involves a number of grain silos and the very strange contents he keeps inside them. Matt gets all SAW on Elijah, and the story just gets more and more outrageous. It would be unfair to say any more but the ending is satisfactorily blood-drenched.
‘The Medallion’ features down on his luck Elvis impersonator Brendan Fraser, stuck doing his terrible act in a hick town where the barbers are at each others’ throats all the time and the townsfolk follow suit. Should he sell his soul to the devil to make the big time? And what exactly IS the big time in a film like HUSTLERS anyway? If it involves an army of zombie naked mud-smeared attractive young ladies gatecrashing your finest ever performance then Brendan’s hit the jackpot, but that might not be what he really wants. Like all good anthology films there’s a satisfying coda back at the shop, and that’s it.
HUSTLERS isn’t perfect (the final story isn’t quite as good as the first two, which are just marvellous) but there’s enough outlandish, energetic, pulpy creativity going on here to more than satisfy those of us who enjoy a good strong dose of quirky and weird. I certainly had a terrific time with it. It's the mark of a good film when you're disappointed to realise it's coming to an end and that's how I felt with this. Highly recommended.
Lionsgate's UK Blu-ray and DVD features a commentary track by Minarovich and Kramer. That's about it for extras, but there are out-takes throughout the end credits, and remember to stay tuned for the cookie at the finish as well.
HUSTLERS was released on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Download by Lionsgate Entertainment on 21st April 2014