The Vagrant (1992)
Director: Chris Walas
Bill Paxton/Graham Krakowski
Marshall Bell/The Vagrant
Yuppie suck up Graham (Paxton) buys a new house that comes with an extra feature: a murderous bum (Bell) that lives in an empty lot nearby. When the evil vagrant begins a murderous game of cat 'n mouse with his new neighbor, the police seem to think that Graham is the culprit. Pretty soon he’s got everybody on his arse and he’s losing his marbles..
Lots of critics bumf--ked this one but The Arrow found lots to like and laughed his sick little head off. The film starts off as a psychological thriller/black comedy. It’s the whole "what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger" thang and we witness Graham’s evolution. But what I really liked was the humor, specially the jokes at the expense of police officers. From the SWAT team’s dumb as Maltin tactics, to Ironside’s super ham performance as the top detective, to the "jungle" music that plays when 911 puts you on hold to the total disdain officers have against public urinations…this film laughs at cops and I chuckled along with it.
The film is filled with colorful characters, my favs being: Graham (Paxton) as the soon to lose his mind yuppie, the sex crazed real-estate slut (Camp), Ralph (Ironside) the trigger happy cop and of course the sick, murderous Vagrant who winds up being quite articulate verbally.
The movie has two sections. It starts off as a comedic psychological flick first. We’re never sure if it’s the vagrant killing people or the sleepwalking neurotic Graham. Up to that point the film is ambiguous, leaving it up to the viewer to figure it out. But in the second half, Graham gets away from it all, grows into a tough guy and the psychological side is dropped to make way for a very physical conclusion, filled with fist fights, explosions and good old fashion gore. The Vagrant’s identity is disclosed, the humor is dropped and it’s just not as fun.
The weaker conclusion is not as strong as the first hour that’s for sure but it’s still entertaining. If the film doesn’t make you laugh it will surely make you look twice next time some bum asks you for chump change. The Vagrant found a home in The Arrow’s heart…
I loved the fun stuff in the fridge, the minor gore in the end but the most disgusting thing in this movie is without a doubt the filthy vagrant.
Bill Paxton was born to play these kinds of parts. Lots of physical comedy and in my book Paxton excels at it. Then again, I am a Paxton fan. Colleen Camp plays the house-selling slut so well that I tried to seduce my landlord’s wife after the film, her husband caught us and kicked my arse. Mitzi Kapture does fine as the over powering girlfriend and reminded me of why I decided to never get married. Michael Ironside is hilarious as the nut ball cop, its nice to see him having fun with his image. Marshall Bell is one ugly son of a vagrant, great makeup!
T & A
Walas gives the film lots of mood, he’s got a hard on for slow motion leaking faucets and blue filters. The pace is good and the comedy well handled.
An offbeat score that gels well with the off the wall scenes.
A horror comedy that works. This film could have easily been played straight but Walas tries something new. It’s crazy, offbeat and funny. For sure this kind of humor doesn’t appeal to everybody but the important thing is that it appeals to me. Might want to check this one out if you’re in the mood for something that’s a little out there.
Actor Marshall Bell who plays the Vagrant (he also played the gay gym teacher in Nightmare On Elm Street 2) really got under actor Bill Paxton’s skin during shooting. He’d call his room and hang up on him, he put a paper bag full of dog poop on his doorstep and set it on fire, he would call him at 4 am to know if the Cardinals had won…Now that’s method acting and it really drove Paxton nuts.