Drew Barrymore had an interesting career sidestep in the early nineties. After her early precocious child movies and before she inevitably boarded the Hollywood Meat Train, Barrymore made a few very cool low budget crime movies.

There was Katt Shea's Poison Ivy, a Lolita story crossed with Fatal Attraction, from 1992. Far From Home, from '91, is a taut thriller about Drew and her Dad broken down in a desolate trailer park with a resident serial killer.

Then there was my favorite: Guncrazy. This was the first film from director Tamra Davis, who went on to bigger, if not better, cinematic endeavors. Guncrazy was written by Matthew Bright. Bright not only wrote, but played duel roles of Squeezit and Rene in the bugfuck Oingo Boingo freakshow Forbidden Zone.

Matthew Bright, a talented screenwriter who should have a much bigger career, is probably best known for a sick puppy of a movie called Freeway. Freeway features Crawdad Queen Reese Witherspoon in a twisted, nightmare retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. I understand Witherspoon does not like to be reminded of this one. I guess it upsets the tender hearts of her book club and romcom fans.

Guncrazy is sort of a Bonnie and Clyde tale. It isn't particularly original, but the story is very well done. The Drewster plays a hardluck teen living in a flyspeck trailer with her mother's dirtbag boyfriend. The guy is played by former Warhol studboy and gay pinup favorite Joe Dellasandro. Mom is off turning tricks and shooting smack while Joe drunkenly abuses the poor girl.

As do boys in the small town. Drew, obviously desperate for any sort of attention, submits to most anyone who asks. And they don't even have to ask nicely.

She answers a personals ad from a convict, played by the underrated actor James LeGros. Horror fans know LeGros as the guy who replaced Michael Baldwin in Phantasm 2.

LeGros gets paroled, the two meet, and they embark on a spree of passion and murder. It's not hard to see the bad end coming for the pair, but the thrill of Guncrazy is the journey, not the destination.

This isn't some Tarantino romp with laughs and outrageous situations. You feel for the two lost souls. Perhaps having a woman director makes Guncrazy a more emotional experience than most low budget actioners. It's a haunting story, and you can imagine Drew and James as the ideal couple next door if only Fate had dealt them better hands.

Michael Ironside is a probation officer with a stern eye on the situation, and Billy Drago is a snake-handling preacher. Ione Skye plays Drew's party-girl best friend.

Guncrazy, like Poison Ivy and Far From Home, is perfect fare for a steamy drive-in night. Unfortunately by the '90s most outdoor theaters were gone, shot down by the home video explosion and the rise of monolithic multiplex indoor theaters. The film got lost in the shuffle as the wave of independent productions washed over the landscape of cinema.

A shame, but Guncrazy is now available in DVD and Blu-ray by MVD as one of their Rewind Collection.

Written by Mark Sieber

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