Charlie’s Death Wish

Title: Charlie’s Death Wish (2005)
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Action
Starring: Phoebe Dollar, Ron Jeremy, Randal Malone
Director: Jeff Leroy

After her sister was murdered by thugs in a jail cell, gun saleswoman Charlie (Phoebe Dollar) spends every waking moment investigating the culprits and plotting her violent revenge. What turns out behind her sister’s murder is a large criminal organization led by a drug lord (Randal Malone) that has Hollywood in the palm of his hand. Left to deal with all this mayhem is good cop Rosenberg (Ron Jeremy), who is sympathetic to Charlie’s vendetta but isn’t exactly crooked enough to allow her a pardon. If that wasn’t enough, an eccentric documentary filmmaker does his best to expose the corruption of the LAPD and the 2nd Amendment as he incidentally gets himself in the middle of what he dubs the “Deadly Dixie Chick Killer” murders. These characters and events all lead to nothing but action and carnage… and there can only be one winner.

Before I start raving about this little flick, let me tackle the unbelievably cool cast. This film is the brainchild of writer/producer/actress Phoebe Dollar (my personally favorite scream queen) and writer/director Jeff Leroy. Not only being viciously independent filmmakers, these two have a long and continuously developing history together with collaborations including the shot-on-video classic Hell’s Highway, Alien 3000, and Werewolf in a Women’s Prison, to name but a few. Also on the roster is legendary adult film star Ron Jeremy, who is no stranger to low-budget, non-adult films (Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger Part IV, Andre the Butcher, Slaughter Party). To up the ante for underground credibility is the involvement of Randal Malone who’s credits also include Evil in the Bayou, The Curse of Lizzie Borden, and this year’s (2011) epic showdown Dahmer Vs. Gacy. If you haven’t already passed out from all this awesomeness, prepare yourself for special appearances by Guns ‘N Roses’ Dizzy Reed, LA Guns’ Tracii Guns, and Motorhead frontman Lemmy. Yes, you read correctly, LEMMY!

With that out of the way, let me just say that I have always been a huge fan of low- to no-budget horror films. I love the spirit and the ingenuity that are always passionately put into these movies. But I never once conceived that this same DIY passion could be generalized to action movies. Charlie’s Death Wish completely blew me away. It’s got gory gunfights, car chases, and priceless humor; but what really sets this movie apart from others that share such a low budget, and what really got me cheering at my screen, were the exploding miniatures. I mean, c’mon. When was the last time anyone saw miniatures put to such good use recently in B-movies? Director Leroy has a knack for these things, and there is no better way to get action fans going than with explosions. However, fans of Dollar’s and Leroy’s horror stuff are not left in the dust, as this movie provides an ample supply of red goo from start to finish.

Charlie’s Death Wish also has some very creative elements that are a bit more subtle. For instance, set design isn’t particularly something B-filmmakers are altogether concerned with (unless you count bloodied walls and cobwebs); but the interiors of the drug lord’s mansion are impressively dressed, though not entirely convincing (this IS a small-time flick, after all). And along with the violence, the soundtrack gives this movie a jolt of energy, including the haunting and tastefully used Charles Manson ballad “Look at Your Game Girl” that definitely compliments the mood of CDW. The no-so-well-known supporting cast does a decent job of filling out the rest of the characters, and the story itself is engaging and exciting.

Charlie’s Death Wish is a criminally underrated and little seen B-movie that literally gives a big “fuck you” to the Hollywood film industry. If you don’t mind films that operate on low production value, CDW may just be a cult nerd’s “wish” come true.


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