Everything about GUN TOWN points to a “been there, seen that” reaction. We get a similar plot, very recognizable characters, and a common plot progression. Why, then, did I find myself enjoying this one as much as I did? I mean seriously; five recent graduates decide to go on a road trip and end up getting stranded in the titular Old West tourist trap. There they get stalked and killed one by one by a masked killer. So why, I’ll ask again, is GUN TOWN so much damn fun?
Gun Town is, as mentioned above, an Old West-themed tourist trap that in 1979 experienced a traumatic event in which the owner gunned down several tourists. The man was sent to a prison for the criminally insane and it just so happens that he was released a few weeks ago. Now it seems he (Frank Bailey Sr.), his equally bat-shit crazy wife Victoria (Morgan Graham) and their wheelchair-bound son Frank Jr. (Andy Grace) live in the rundown town and kill anyone who stops by. GUN TOWN is written, directed, and produced by Lee Vervoort (who’s also the stunt coordinator and stars in the film in a dual role; as a victim’s dad and as the patriarch of the crazy clan, Frank Sr.). Lee Vervoort is, essentially, the male J.A. Steel (and I say that with the utmost respect … I LOVE J.A. Steel).
I’m gonna ask this a third time (and finally answer my question): How does Vervoort make GUN TOWN so much fun considering it’s such a standard film with familiar characters and a very recognizable plot? The answer is the editing. Editor Andy Firkus, with Vervoort’s guidance I’m sure, really creates a tight, fast-paced film that never drags and doesn’t contain any filler. Vervoort has a story to tell and he does so with an efficiency not often found in this genre. We don’t get any lingering shots that don’t go anywhere; we don’t get any silly sub-plots that simply waste our time; and we definitely don’t get any wasteful shots of cars driving around or people endlessly running through the woods. What we get is familiar story that, due to nice tight editing, is fun and very enjoyable.
We also get a pretty scary looking killer, Frank Bailey Sr. (played by Vervoort), who wears a mask that would scare the stuffing out of Michael Myers himself. That faceless, emotionless, expressionless mask is very effective and makes Vervoort’s killer all that much more threatening. But besides the fun spirit and fast pace of GUN TOWN, there are a few problems with it. Some of the dialogue is rather silly and inane. When the group of grads first run into Frank Bailey Jr., Kevin (Weston Brann) was playing the piano and Frank Jr. yells at them:
Frank Jr.: Hey! What the hell are you doing playin’ my damn piano?
Kevin: Who are you?
Frank Jr.: The damn piano player, dumbass!
And on two separate occasions the Girl Shelly (Christianna Aronstam) has the opportunity to really fuck up Frank Sr. and possibly kill him, but both times she announces herself before dealing out her “killing blows”. The first time she was behind the wheel of a car and as Frank Sr. is standing in front of the car she turns the car on, guns the engine, and screams, “Die you sonuvabitch!” and THEN hits the gas. Frank Sr. easily jumps out of the way. The other opportunity Shelly had was towards the end when she finds a shotgun, steps out from behind a tree and aims the gun at good old Frank Sr. This time instead of just pulling the trigger she yells, “Hey asshole; it’s your turn to die,” and then shoots him. It was pretty annoying.
The cast overall does a pretty good job. Along with Kevin, Matt (Joshua Harrison) and Jerry (Andrew Thornhill) do good jobs. Even Tracy (Lauren Hoffman) holds her own. The weakest actress was, ironically, the top-billed actress, Christianna Aronstam. I’ll be blunt here; she just wasn’t a good actress at all. All her lines were overacted and she pandered to the camera every time she was in a scene. She made it very obvious that we were watching a movie. I also wish that the second character Vervoort plays, Jake, was on screen more. Vervoort seemed very natural and comfortable in front of the camera.
Unfortunately the gore was very light in GUN TOWN. Most of the killings were done by gun shots or by wrapping saran wrap around the faces of bound up girls. There was one pretty good gruesome killing (I’ll let you find that out for yourself), but for the most part this film was pretty blood- and goreless.
But look; by now you know me to be a straight-shooter with my reviews and I always tell it like it is. GUN TOWN offers nothing new to the “lost teens being chased by a killer in a remote area” canon. If you’re looking for something original and new then you’ll be disappointed with this one. But if you’re looking for a fun, fast-paced film that will keep you entertained for its 78 minute runtime then GUN TOWN is for you. Check it out.
Director: Lee Vervoort (& a whole bunch of other duties)
Plot: 3 out of 5 stars
Gore: 1 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer