by Ed Malin · April 29, 2015
If you think about it, grindhouse films are in a fine state if Vampire Cowboys can give us something much more entertaining, onstage, with live humans and monsters. But why are you thinking about it? Just go to the New Ohio Theatre to see the new Qui Nguyen and Robert Ross Parker effort Six Rounds of Vengeance while you can.
What’s cliché about dudes in trenchcoats walking around the desert that once was Las Vegas and whipping out cutlasses? I’m sure if you lived there you would do the same. It’s not the thieving human Creepers who are the problem, it’s the blood-sucking Longtooths. Jess (Jamie Dunn) and her musclebear companion Lucky (Tom Myers) are rescued from certain death by vigilante Malcolm (Sheldon Best). When you see Malcolm slashing anything that moves, your mind may, faster than you can say “Machete”, cut to the earlier Vampire Cowboys opus Soul Samurai. Fortunately, this show has ways of getting your attention. Picture frames held up in front of the performers gleefully mock the edits from what may be your favorite exploitation films.
Malcolm recruits Jess and Lucky—who has a mysterious power to repel Longtooths—for a mission to kill the insidious queen of the bloody disgusting. They ride through the desert, staving off a MadMaxian attack from nasty bounty hunters. And then it’s dark, the time the real underworld of Las Vegas emerges if you know what I mean.
Along the way, Malcolm meets someone he once knew. And faster than you can say “Yo, Jimbo!” we’re flashing back to the time Malcolm and Nathaniel (Jon Hoche) fell in love. They are made for each other. They were happy before the proverbial apocalypse happened. But back in the present, Nathaniel has become a Longtooth and is evil most of the time. It may take help from anyone else who isn’t undead to defeat Queen Mad (Nicky Schmidlein), who wears tight outfits, wields swords they way they used to back in Vampire Japan, and likes telling people they should appreciate their unique death scenes.
Is Lucky a human tornado? Or has something else emerged that may take out the Longtooths as well as the human race? Even if you’re in the habit of wolfen down these kinds of films, this very special theater experience will keep you on the edge of your seat.
This show comes in a great package. Nick Francone’s incredible set shows us a demolished Las Vegas which still lights up nicely. Kristina Makowski’s costumes bring out the road warrior in all of us, and then David Valentine’s puppet design makes you fear for your safety. Matthew Tennie’s video fills in the interludes and starts the evening on the right note with the faux-trailer “Shut That Shit Off”. Shane Rettig’s music goes smashingly with Qui Nguyen’s fight direction. From boys in love to beasts who suck; from the darkest of caves to the fullest of moons; from the savagest of streets to the strong-armed cast; everything about this adventure is pleasantly larger than life.