Last Night at the Alamo (1983)


(director: Eagle Pennell; screenwriter: Kim Henkel; cinematographers: Brian Huberman/Eric Edwards; editor: Eagle Pennell/Kim Henkel; cast: Sonny Carl Davis (Cowboy Regan), Louis Perryman (Claude), Steven Mattilla (Ichabod), Tina-Bess Hubbard (Mary), Amanda Lamar (Lisa), Peggy Pinnell (Bo), Kim Henkel (Lionel), J. Michael Hammond (Steve), Henry Wideman (Willie); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Kim Henkel/Eagle Pennell; Continental Video; 1983)
“Funny slice-of-life black comedy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Eagle Pennell (“The Whole Shootin’ Match”/”Doc’s Full Service”/”Ice House”) directs this funny slice-of-life black comedy. It’s written by Kim Henkel (writer of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), who has an ear for blue collar lingo western style but stubs his toe with a somewhat clumsy screenplay.

The Alamo is a seedy, smoke-filled bar in contemporary Houston that is being razed to make room for a high-rise office building. The slight plot is about the colorful regulars gathering there for last call, as we watch them interact, talk profane, complain about being henpecked, fight among themselves, talk with a loser’s passion about their future hopes and try to talk John Wayne tough about stopping their favorite tavern from closing. The would-be hero is called Cowboy Regan (Sonny Carl Davis), a braggart who is concealing his bald spots beneath a ten-gallon hat and covers up his impotence with boasts of being connected to the state representative, his former college roommate, who will get back to him in time to save the watering hole. For comic relief there’s the battling couple, the hotheaded pest control operator Ichabod (Steve Matilla) and his sharp-tongued wife Mary (Tina Hubbard), who find love when not arguing.

The cussing from the good ole Texas boys quickly becomes tiring, and the dialogue trite. But the indie film (shot in three weeks for $50,000, from a grant by National Endowment for the Arts and by the Southwest Alternate Media Project) has a raw power that effectively conveys the modern day trend of real estate development for the rich and how it’s affecting the life of the struggling ordinary urban cowboy.