ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Riding the Bullet (2005)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Mick Garris

Starring:
Jonathan Jackson/Alan
David Arquette/George
Barbara Hershey/Jean
Erika Christensen/Jessica
7 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
In the “drugs are our friends 60’s”, a young duder (Jackson) with a death fixation, raises his fat thumb in the name of hitching a ride to go see his sick mommy at a far away hospital. His journey winds up being quite the ghoulish bad-trip. Far out man!
THE LOWDOWN

The dead travel fast!

"Riding the Bullet" is kool dude Mick Garris's fourth Stephen King cinematic adaptation (and there's a fifth one on the way named "Desperation"). The lad has studied at "King University” and in my useless opinion, graduated with honors when he brilliantly tackled the “impossible” with his take on "The Stand". That weighty experience thankfully shined through in his latest King book to screen fiesta!

This speed-ball wore its title well where it swiftly and aggressively took me for a mucho engaging fear ride! Mick Garris’s novel approach to the material was the skeleton-key in terms of this flick being such a freaking hoot! I couldn’t get enough of the manner in which he explored his lead character's personal history and though pattern! We grippingly jumped from the present, to the past to the future while being assaulted by hefty servings of genre spices throughout. The latter device cleverly acted as physical manifestations of the lead’s inner monologues and made way for all kinds of fun horrific stuff to go down! I’m talking, a straight shooting doppelganger, psychotic truckers, tortured ghosts, the Grim Reaper, a nutty “Sometime They Come Back” reject (played by David Arquette) Cujo’s younger brother, Christine’s Plymouth sister, trippy hallucinations galore and more! This party mix bowl was filled to he brim no doubt and thankfully the bitter goodies were "Garrissed" my way with a zippy pace and at times potent tension glued to them.

Furthermore, I must commend Garris for changing the time frame of the story. Where King's E-Book set its shenanigans in the present, the film slapped them in the 60’s, a definitely more colorful and purposed era. The old school time period resulted in a compelling aura sticking to the shady circumstances, countless slick 60 ditties booming out and actually added credibility to the act of hitchhiking. I mean who hitches a ride today unless they want their severed testicules resting on the back seat next to a plastic "Dunkin Donuts" cup? In the 60’s…hitchhiking was all good. Stack on top of all that loving, effectively tight editing a bang-on show by star Jonathan Jackson, groovy nods to King's past work, polished visuals, delicious dread filled ambiance (those night time, desolate road scenes, were striking to say the least) and an overall wicked sense of humor and you get a macabre joyride worthy of Route 666, the highway of the beast!

On the “sugar in the engine” side of the carburator, although I respected the “here it is, take it or leave it” attitude, I would’ve appreciated a “clearer” and firmer rationalization as to the “why” behind the constant madness. Then there were the main emotional themes at hand which were occasionally drowned out by all the razzle-dazzle. The flick had something deep and poignant to say and I wanted to hear it louder. Lastly; the affair did lose a bit of its zest during the last block with the “trip out” card starting to wear thin. But all in all, this bullet wound up being an earnest buck and half of high rolling, genre amusement. It aimed at my head, pulled the trigger and hit the bull’s-eye. Thank you for putting me out of my misery! Get it…"Misery"…HEY-HO!
GORE
This uncut version had its gooey moments, I'm yapping; a slit wrist, a revealed bloodied brain, a chewed off throat a self inflicted gun shot wound and more! Props to Howard Berger, Greg Nicotero and company for their fine work!
ACTING
After seeing Jonathan Jackson (Alan) in Skeleton in the Closet, I was convinced that he was the most underrated young actor of our time. He carried the flick like a champ here too! The man oozes of talent and charisma. By rule of Index, I’m not a huge David Arquette (George) fan but apart from a couple of “on the brink of over acting” moments, he worked here. Barbara Hershey (Jean) brought some meat to what was an “on paper” fairly slim role. Erika Christensen (Jessica) did good as the “girlfriend”.
T & A
We get a very impressive pair of knockers early on. Nice action! Thanks Mick! Nudity in the name of foreign sales is my best friend, along with that talking cat that lives in my closet.
DIRECTING
Mick went all out on this one; putting out a hypnotic morbid mood, managing to generate potent suspense while giving the whole a good dose of gloss & adrenaline via effective uses of flash/quick cuts. Baby looked good!
SOUNDTRACK
Since the flick was set in the 60's, we were blessed with gnarly ditties from that era with "Time Has Come Today" being my favorite of the lot.
BOTTOM LINE
Riding the Bullet was parallel to tripping out in a "house of horrors". It started out fast and furious, mostly kept to that swell energy throughout while bombarding me with a slew of chilling images and scenarios. Sure it got a tiny bit redundant down the road, the themes somewhat got over-shadowed by all the “hooa” and more weight behind the lunacy would’ve been slick… but all in all this bullet hit home. In the mood for a trouble-free dose of genre joo-joo? See this highly entertaining, inventive, Stephen King vibe heavy and effortless watch and call it a buck and a half well spent.
BULL'S EYE
The flick was shot in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

The car in King's short story was a Mustang; the car in the film was a 1960 Plymouth.

Mick's lovely wife Cynthia Garris has a small role as a nurse in the film.

The role of the art teacher was supposed to be Stephen King’s cameo in the film. He had to pass where he was sick when the shoot took place. Director George Romero was to be his replacement but scheduling conflicts nipped that in the bud. So Matt Frewer got the role.

READ MY MORE RECENT MICK G INTERVIEW

READ MY OLD JONATHAN JACKSON INTERVIEW

VISIT THE OFFICIAL "RTB" SITE HERE

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