The possibilities are endless. There are ghost towns you can rent, allowing you to make that Western you’ve always wanted to make…including Mark Allen Michaels’ insane cowboy adventure, Joe Crist.
Dallas Valdez plays the titular former bounty, Joe Crist. He’s a man who hides in the shadows to avoid trouble, yet trouble follows him everywhere he goes, and his heart to help anyone in danger doesn’t help. Joe is alive today thanks to his quick draw and deadly accuracy.
Our tale opens with Joe in a town ridden with bad guys. His unlimited supply of bullets, guns, and one-liners makes the job seem too easy. A year later, he returns a legend of sorts, breaking up a fight over the hand of the saloon’s barkeep, Maggie (Carrie Keegan). When asked to search for a mother’s missing daughter, Joe can’t resist responding to a cry for help.
With Joe’s keen eye and bounty hunter skills, he locates the girl’s whereabouts, leading him to an ambush. Mortally wounded, Joe lies in a coma for forty days. When he awakes, there are two holes in the palm of his hands, and as if by some miracle, Joe Crist has been touched by the healing hand of a higher power.
Joe now has a calling to end the string of missing daughters in the town with the help of his newfound clairvoyant powers and win the heart of sweet but tough Maggie. What Joe soon comes to learn is that the evil Anton Weaver (John Marrs) and his gang are behind the kidnapping and plan to terrorize the town into submission.
“Mortally wounded…by some miracle, Joe Crist has been touched by the healing hand of a higher power.”
Joe Crist is an impressive Western comedy. I’ve already mentioned its Western location. For a low-budget indie, the costumes are spot on, the guns and rifles look good, and the CG-blood splatter and death screams are halfway decent.
The tale itself is your typical Western fare. A jaded bounty hunter with a sliver of compassion comes to rescue a town, specifically its women, from the evil tyrant trying to take it over.
Now, add in Joe Crist’s seemingly new messianic powers to put a twist on the genre. He can see visions of the future, signs appear like burning bushes, and he runs one hell of a lucky streak…until he commits the unforgivable crime.
I’m not sure if I’ve made this clear, but Joe Crist is a comedy…a mixed bag of sorts. There are definitely laugh-out moments, but the humor is as dry as the desert where the movie was shot. The laughs come from its silly dialogue and crazy characters. Dallas Valdez, as Joe, is the straight-man throughout the film, reacting to the weird townsfolk, and Carrie Keegan, as the heroine, keeps the story and Joe grounded so the silliness doesn’t run amuck.
My only real complaint is that the comedy and the Western drama are uneven, as moments of seriousness are immediately followed by wackiness. There are times I wish the film were either a comedy with moments of drama or a drama with moments of comedy. I would have gone the crazy route, as the crazy shootouts and killings are the highlight of Joe Crist.
Ultimately, I just appreciate that there are resources available for indie filmmakers to tell whatever story they want and that the Western is undoubtedly on the table. The potential is unlimited.