The Curator of Schlock #39 by Jeffrey Shuster
Desert Heat: Van Damme and Trejo, Together Again for the First Time
In Desert Heat from director John G. Avildsen, Jean-Claude Van Damme plays Eddie Lomax, a motorcycle enthusiast who has given up on life. He drives his Indian out to middle of the desert with a bottle of tequila in one hand and a .45 in the other. When his motorcycle breaks down, Lomax is ready to meet his maker, but sees the ghost of his friend, Johnny Sixtoes (Danny Trejo) instead. Lomax proudly proclaims how he’s going to kill himself, shooting his .45 off at random. Lomax accidently fires off a round at the pickup of some of the local redneck, methamphetamine drug lords and they don’t take too kindly to his drunken antics. They beat him up, shoot him in the shoulder, leave him for dead, and—worst of all—steal his Indian motorcycle.
Johnny Sixtoes shows up, so I guess he wasn’t dead, technically.
I think Lomax and Sixtoes had been in the army and saw some terrible things (which is why Lomax wanted to kill himself), but getting left for dead by rednecky methamphetamine drug-lords would give anyone a reason to live. You know, for revenge. Plus, there’s a waitress in town named Rhonda (Gabrielle Fitzpatrick) who makes an apple pie that puts a smile on Lomax’s face, but one can’t help, but think it’s Rhonda herself that’s putting that smile on his face. Let’s just say there might be wedding bells in their future.
Lomax must take care of the redneck, methamphetamine drug lords first. By the way, they’re known as The Heathens. I probably should have mentioned that earlier so I wouldn’t have to keep repeating redneck, methamphetamine drug lords for the first three paragraphs of this review. Anyway, The Heathens are making life a living hell for the local residents, scaring away elderly tourists, being rude to Rhonda, and harassing Dottie Matthews (Jaime Pressly), the other waitress who works at Rhonda’s diner.
Lomax convinces a rival gang that The Heathens want them dead. He does this by shooting at them and saying he works for The Heathens. He rescues two women from the rival gang who thank him with a tryst in his hotel room.
The hotel is run by an old lady who’s a Christian fundamentalist with a penchant for snake charming and Wild Turkey. You’d think she’d be offended by such lascivious behavior, but she enjoys the show Lomax is putting on.
As the bodies pile up, Lomax employs the services of Jubai Early (Pat Morita), a handyman who’s handy at wrapping dead bodies in plastic wrap before dumping them in a sand pit in the desert. During an attack on The Heathens, Sixtoes gets shot to death, but he comes back at the end of the film riding an Indian motorcycle while the Navajo god Coyote runs alongside him. Perhaps Sixtoes was Coyote all along. Ponder that for awhile.
It’s kept me up at night.
5 Things I Learned from Desert Heat
- Tank tops are fashionable as long as you wear a cowboy hat.
- You haven’t heard the words apple pie until you’ve heard them with a French accent.
- Never send a newbie gang member who’s shy about shooting folks to finish off Van Damme. He won’t see it through.
- If you see the ghost of Danny Trejo, good things will follow.
- No apple pie is as good as the apple pie made by Rhonda in Desert Heat.
Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47) is an MFA candidate and instructor at the University of Central Florida.
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