Lust in the Dust (1984)


(director: Paul Bartel; screenwriter: Philip John Taylor; cinematographer: Paul Lohmann; editor: Alan Toomayan; music: Peter Matz; cast: Tab Hunter (Abel Wood), Divine (Rosie), Lainie Kazan (Marguerita), Geoffrey (Hard Case Williams), Henry Silva (Lewis Bernardo), Cesar Romero (Father Garcia), Gina Gallego (Ninfao), Nedra Volz (Big Ed), Courtney Gains (Red Dick); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Tab Hunter; New World Pictures; 1985)
“Simply awful.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Paul Bartel’s (”Eating Raoul”) spoof on Spaghetti Westerns is simply awful. It takes its title from the alternate title to the 1946 Duel in the Sun. Bartel and writer Philip Taylor are out of their element in the western, as their attempt to make it a camp satire like the 1974 Blazing Saddles bites the dust. The next biggest mistake to the lame script is in casting Tab Hunter in the lead role as Abel Wood, a silent gunslinger Clint Eastwood type, who plays it straight to no avail (though he inadvertently gets the most unintentional laughs). Divine, the overweight female impersonator from John Water’s Polyester, plays the drag queen Rosie, an aspiring saloon singer, who wanders the hot New Mexico desert on a mule to be rescued by Abel after ravaged by Hard Case Williams (Geoffrey Lewis) and his desperadoes. The gang, Abel and Rosie wind up together in the dusty desert town of Chili Verde, where the lady with the cleavage showing, Marguerita (Lainie Kazan), is the saloon/brothel owner. Others present are bartender/bouncer Bernardo (Henry Silva), the owner’s dumb lover; Nedra Volz (Big Ed) an elderly hooker who dreams of going to Abilene, and Father Garcia (Cesar Romero) as the local padre. The plot revolves on everyone acting greedy and lustful while looking for hidden gold. Marguerita and Rosie each have one half of a map of buried treasure tattooed on their backsides (now isn’t that a hoot!), and when that’s discovered everyone tries to outwit each other to get a look at the so-called lady’s butts. It reaches a climax with everyone gathered around the grave where the gold is buried and knocking each other off with comical flare.

The only thing “Lust” gets off on is being crude, tiresome, irrelevant, witless and unfunny.