Blu-ray Review: Lust In the Dust

Paul Bartel ought to have at least three of the movies he directed in the Library of Congress National Film Registry. Bartel gave us a glimpse of our reality TV future with Secret Cinema about a woman whose life if constantly filmed and run nightly at a theater. Death Race 2000 is a drive-in masterpiece. Eating Raoul made cannibalism an art house hit. Bartel rarely gets his name dropped during speeches at the Indy Film Awards. This is a shame since he often gets reduced down to his comic acting roles in Corman films and Gremlins 2. Bartel’s filmography shows a man who took risks with his material yet had a wicked sense of humor that poked fun at the material. Lust In the Dust poked fun at the conventions of the genre in the post-Spaghetti Western universe and reunited the stars of John Waters’ Polyester.

Rosie Velez (Hairspray‘s Divine) is a dance hall singer riding through the desert in search of the small town of Chile Verde in New Mexico on back of a burro. Her journey takes bad turn when she encounters a pack of outlaws led by Geoffrey Lewis (Double Impact) with henchmen that include Woody Strode (Spartcus) and Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez (Rio Bravo). They have their way with her, but she escapes after wearing them out. Rosie encounters a mysterious stranger (Damn Yankees‘ Tab Hunter) who she fears will bring her more bad things, but he takes her to Chili Verde. She gets work at the local bar that’s run by Marguerita Ventura (My Big Fat Greek Wedding‘s Lainie Kazan). She’s not impressed by Rosie’s voice, but needs someone to scrub the floors. The stranger learns from the local priest (Batman‘s Cesar Romero) about the legend of the gold of Chile Verde. He also figures out where two pieces of the map that might be although to put them together he’s got to get Rose and Marguerita together.

Lust In the Dust is an outrageous Western that does so much in 84 minutes. The theme song sets the tone that this is not going to be the Saturday afternoon oater that your dad watched while semi-napping on the sofa. The screen is stocked with the faces you’d expect to see in wild West over the decades. Henry Silva (Ocean’s 11) gets to be the head of the town’s lynching committee. They’re all having a bit of fun with the characters they portrayed in the past, but it’s not a complete camp it up outing. They’re still making the plot of a Western that could have been made in the rugged plains of Spain or the backlots of Hollywood. Divine gives a performance that is the answer to what would happen if Elizabeth Taylor made a movie with Enzo Barboni (They Call Me Trinity). Paul Bartel, screenwriter Philip John Taylor and crew deliver and entertaining R-rated Western. The jokes about the genre are still funny and the gross moments will still make you wince. Lust in the Dust is the ultimate centered female Western with Divine and Kazan riding high in the saddle.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. There’s a 2.35:1 anamorphic version that was created to give it a spaghetti Western look. Although the film wasn’t framed for it. The transfer looks fine although there’s grain in the dark scenes. The audio is DTS-HD MA mono. The levels let you hear all the gun shots and musical moments clearly. The movie is subtitled.

Return to Chile Verde (20:11) has Tab Hunter and producer Allan Glaser talk about the film. Glaser was in film school when he saw Polyester in the theater. Little did he know he’d soon be reuniting the stars. Tab came up with the story idea. He had a different actress in mind and Glasser knew there was a market for more cult-like films. They did asked John Waters to direct, but he didn’t want to be a part of a movie he didn’t write. Bartel came in.

More Lust Less Dust (15:09) is an older making of documentary that includes Tab, Kazan and audio from Divine and Paul Bartel. They talk about the origins of the movie title. Another Polyester star was supposed to be a part of the film. Bartel didn’t want to make a John Waters movie without John Waters.

The Importance of Being Paul (16:12) covers the career of Paul Bartel. His sister talks about him being into making films. Mary Woronov was blown away by his Secret Cinema. Roger Corman has memories of Paul being pegged as an action director of Cannonball. They talk about how Paul took a year to make Eating Raoul for not the obvious reason. It also covers Lust In the Dust.

Teaser Trailer (0:28) promises the wild west fun.

DVD with movie and bonus features.

Archival Article Gallery (3:25) includes reviews, posters, newspaper ads and the ticket to the premiere. The plenty of critics hated the film and decided to add “Bust” to “Lust” and “Dust.” Little did they know.

Vinegar Syndrome presents Lust In the Dust. Directed by Paul Bartel. Screenplay by: Philip John Taylor. Starring: Tab Hunter, Divine, Lainie Kazan & Geoffrey Lewis. Rated: Unrated. Running Time: 84 minutes. Released: May 24, 2019.

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