OK, first off: I am a huge fan of exploitation movies. The wilder, the better. I have waded into the waters of many ghastly horror titles, wacky science-fiction tales, unapologetic revenge flicks and monstrous kiddie films to boot, only to joyfully sop up all of the debauchery like the demented cinemasochist that I am. But even I couldn’t help but shake my head over how awful Drive Angry was.
Had it been made in the ‘70s, Drive Angry would have been pure gold for the drive-in and/or grindhouse circuits. It’s overly-sensational onscreen occurrences would have escalated it to a state of ever-lasting glory as a genuine cult classic a few decades on. Tragically, though, Drive Angry was produced in 2010 — following the near-extinction of such specialty theaters — and made solely as a 3D contender to modern-day exploitation films that pay homage to the trashy and offbeat masterpieces of yesteryear.
It’s a pity, too, since just about all of the elements in this no-holds-barred supernatural action/thriller/comedy were ripe for the picking, but ultimately spoiled before they could be sincerely savored because the filmmakers didn’t know how to properly harvest or process them.
Most (if not all) of the blame here can be attributed to writer/director Patrick Lussier and his frequent collaborator, co-writer Todd Farmer. These are the guys that remade My Bloody Valentine and are currently working on a reboot of the Hellraiser franchise if that tells you anything. If that doesn’t tell you anything, the perhaps this will: they screwed the pooch on Drive Angry. It’s an unapologetically-dreadful thrill-ride that goes for the maximum shock value (e.g. gratuitous sex, violence and language), but winds up boring and insulting you.
And then there’s the film’s lead star: Nicolas Cage’s ever-expanding forehead — once again accompanied by its host organism, Mr. Nicolas Cage himself. As it frequently the case in Nic Cage vehicles, he’s downright awful. When he’s not hamming it up with an almost-Huntz Hall-like grin on his face (which is particularly disturbing during a sex scene), he’s overacting like…well, Nicolas Cage. And, when he’s not overacting, he’s mumbling one near-monotone line after another; each delivery worse than the last.
There aren’t many of Hollywood’s so-called “professionals” that can take a simple phrase like “I need to reload” and challenge even that of the most calamitous Bruno Mattei films on record for the “Absolutely Worst Read Of Any Line Ever Award” in the process, but this exalted member of the Coppola clan can.