There’s not a single trailer I can think of that I’ve rewatched more times than the trailer for Mandy. Like the film itself, it transfixes you, drawing you in, wanting more. It’s the perfect example of a trailer delivering on its promise of what the film has to offer and rarer than you might think, the film lives up to the hype, delivering on that promise and so so much more.
Mandy is truly this year’s best film. It is a pure masterpiece, a masterpiece that assaults you on all fronts, from what you see to what you hear, but also in some parts of the film, it even affects you physically. This film will leave you speechless after its 2 hour runtime.
The only thing I have to compare this experience to, is when I saw Fury Road in theaters. Even though I unfortunately didn’t get the chance to see Mandy in theaters, it was still one hell of an experience no less, enhanced by me whipping out my PS4 wireless headphones I bought when getting my Playstation 4 but ended up rarely using them.
I badly wanted to start writing this review as soon as I finished watching the movie, but was left with no clue as to what to write. Which is a norm for me, sure, but here it was different. I knew I’d just seen something special, I just had no idea how to get this feeling across to others. And really, no words can describe how fantastic this film is unless you’ve experienced it too.
It was like this religious experience that has converted you and now you must proselytize the good book of Mandy to all the nonbelievers.
All the blasphemers who dare deny her love will have their heads crushed by Nic Cage. Only the blood of disbelievers can calm Cage’s magnificent unquenchable rage.
Mandy is a must see for any Nicolas Cage fans, as it is the best thing he has done in many years, not since Joe has he been this poignant. And of course this film features all the classic “freak out” scenes we’ve come to know and love about The Rage Cage. One in particular being a scene where Nic Cage downs a whole bottle of vodka in his tighty whities while uncontrollably sobbing and yelling. Understandable after watching your girlfriend get burned alive in a sleeping bag.
Before you take the ethereal trip into the goreific madness that is Mandy, I highly suggest you first check out the only other film from this director Panos Cosmatos has made called Beyond the Black Rainbow. It will give you an idea of what to expect as both films share the same trippy atmospheric vibe, accompanied by an 80’s synth score that leaves you spellbound.
Director Panos Cosmatos has a style I’d compare to Stanley Kubrick, or maybe more like Stanley Kubrick meets Nicolas Winding Refn but on a good day. You can tell he has a ton of Italian slasher and horror influences, most notably Dario Argento.
Even Beyond the Black Rainbow suddenly became a slasher film at the end. So clearly he has those influences that have served him well. I just wish I didn’t have to wait 8 fucking years to see a follow up.
Nicolas Cage plays Red, though I don’t recall his name ever getting used by anyone. But then again, I don’t think I ever heard his girlfriend get mentioned by name either. The only reason I know it is because it’s the title of the damn movie.
Names for this film aren’t all that important. Though as I’m looking at the character names on the film’s IMDB page, I do see one character is listed as Fuck Pig, who I can only assume was the large cenobite looking character that had a whittled down piece of sharp bone he used as a strapon.
It’s 1983, Red and Mandy have cut out a peaceful little life for themselves deep in the mountains. Red is a logger while Mandy works the register at a small convenience store.
It becomes pretty clear from the start that Mandy is a bit strange. She’s clearly had a tough upbringing, clear from the stories she tells and the fact her face is horrifically scarred down the side.
She’s into heavy metal, reads fantasy books and paints to pass the time.
One day while walking to work however, she catches the eye of Jeremiah, an egotistical, self-aggrandizing cult leader of the Children of the New Dawn. In his flock of crazy fucks are his main piece Mother Marlene, his piece on the side Sister Lucy, his right hand man Brother Swan and the degenerate Brother Hanker.
Jeremiah is having a hissy fit because he badly wants Mandy for himself, so he sends Brother Swan to get her for him.
And by get her, he means call on the Black Skulls, these hell spawn, cenobite looking zombie bikers from hell. They’ll do what you say for a payment in blood. Which in this case means sacrificing their new fat and naïve disciple Brother Lewis. We later find out he was given to Fuck Pig, coincidently, we also find out why they call him Fuck Pig.
The Black Skulls show up at Red and Mandy’s place while they are sleeping, knocking Red out and taking Mandy to see Jeremiah. But before she is permitted to see him, she must first get a cocktail of hallucinogens, something the local chemist has cooked up for our little cult. Another reason I was excited to see this film was because Richard Brake made an appearance. Last time I saw him it was in Rob Zombie’s 31. He’s really the best thing about that movie.
In Mandy it’s more of a cameo, much like Bill Duke’s short appearance.
After getting Mandy all nice and high, they introduce her to Jeremiah, who is nice enough to play her a song off his own record album. I mean, what cult leader wouldn’t be complete without their own album?
Even drugged up, Mandy sees through his bullshit, laughing at his terrible song. The humiliation and her constant cackling makes it hard for Jeremiah to get an erection, so instead they decide to burn her alive in front of Red, who has been bound and gagged to a fencepost by razor wire.
He watches helplessly as they hang Mandy upside down in a sleeping bag, dowsing it with kerosene and watching as she burns to death. After the BBQ, the cult packs it in and calls it a night, leaving Red to take in everything that has happened.
I particularly enjoyed the scene right after when Red stumbles back inside, after watching his girlfriend turn to literal ash, he sees a commercial on tv advertising for Cheddar Goblin, the box mac and cheese that goblins puke. It’s one of those moments that you sometimes find yourself faced with. Sure, you just witness this horrific thing but then you’re hit with something that unexpectedly makes you laugh. Like when I was at my grandfather’s funeral but my little brother kept doing funny baby shit. You know this isn’t the time to start laughing but here it is making you laugh at the most inappropriate time ever.
In a fog, Red goes to the bathroom where he downs a whole bottle of vodka, yelling hysterically. Now it’s time for our revenge portion of the story.
The title sequence doesn’t kick in until an hour into things, letting you know things are about to kick off.
Red goes to visit his buddy Caruthers played by Bill Duke. I do find it weird that this film came out the same time a new Predator film got released. His character Mac from the original I thought always had the best line. “I’m gonna have me some fun”.
Red came to pick up his crossbow. You’d think living out in the wilderness like this you’d have a shotgun or something just laying around. But we’ve seen shotguns done to death by now. Red needs something more personal to take these guys out with. Which introduces us to his giant ass battle axe. Aside from logger, I guess Red is also into smithing as he creates this badass weapon of destruction and heavy metal, figuratively and literally.
Caruthers tells Red of the Black Skulls. They aren’t demons from hell, no, they are very much human, but have killed their sanity by all the acid The Chemist supplied them with. They’ve become so demented they’ve turned to self-mutilation and cannibalism.
Red stakes out the road they are rumored to sometimes cross, taking one of the bikers out with his crossbow, then finishing him off by running him down with his pickup truck. Of course they had to go after the coolest one first, the one with metal armor that had spikes all over it. But this is a slightly lower budget film, so I’m sure fighting in something that uncomfortable wouldn’t exactly be practical. So hit by a truck it is.
The collision doesn’t exactly go as planned as it rolls his truck, leaving him to get captured by the Black Skulls.
They take Red to their sex dungeon where he of course gets free, because you can’t cage The Cage, man!
After a few brutal and amazing fights, Red has taken out the Black Skulls, reclaiming his crossbow and battle axe. The thing I really loved here was at first it seemed like this cult had the power to summon demons. There was no way these freaks looked or acted human. So it seemed like this film had a surprising supernatural element to it. But to then find out that these guys are just drugged up psychopaths… it was a good twist. It reminded me a bit of this film Tree House, where the whole time you think these kids are being terrorized by monsters in trees but really it’s just murderous kids. Spoilers for Tree House by the way.
So of course Red just has to try some of the Black Skulls’ mayo jar of acid. I was really hoping it would be black, like the drug from Beyond the Black Rainbow, just to tie the two films together but oh well. Old rotten mayo color will have to do.
So now Red is tripping balls, hallucinating out in the forest, giving us a few of the animated sequences this film has.
Red goes to the Chemist to find out where the cult lives. They’ve shacked up at the bottom of a deforested mountain gorge. They built a church with an underground lair.
Red shows up and has himself a little chainsaw battle. Did I say little? I meant he has a chainsaw battle with a man wielding a massive fucking chainsaw.
But since Cage is unkillable, because that would cease the rage, Red makes quick work of the cult, murdering his way to Jeremiah, who is hanging out naked.
Red gives us one last glorious kill, a finale to end all finales, by crushing Jeremiah’s head with his bare hands.
It’s the perfect ending to this bloodbath. It’s so satisfying to finally see Jeremiah pay for his crimes. And it’s a breath of fresh air to finally see Red be the one to make him suffer for it.
This film absolutely gets a SEE IT. It is a must see for this upcoming October, but why wait, when you can see it now, as it didn’t get a very large theater run, but it did get a wide on demand release. You have no excuse not to catch this horror masterpiece.
What are you doing still reading this? Go! Go see this now! You know what will happen if you anger Nic Cage.
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