From the sick and twisted minds of two of the nicest and most down-to-Earth guys I’ve met in the film industry comes something bold and distinctive for the 21st century. “Red on Yella, Kill a Fella” is what can only be referred to as a horror western. Equal parts 1980s slasher film and classic spaghetti western, you’d think the combination would be disastrous. I wholeheartedly assure you that it isn’t. Instead, it makes for an inimitable viewing experience that leaves you wanting to revisit the movie and make sure you caught everything the first time around.
It’s the autumn of 1900 in “Red on Yella, Kill a Fella.” Outlaw Claude Barbee puts his "retirement plan" in action, attempting to lead his train-robbing gang across Texas to recover a cash stash hidden after a botched railroad heist. They soon discover they're being hunted by more than just the law - but rather a merciless, unexpected evil quite possibly greater than themselves.
When viewing “Red on Yella, Kill a Fella,” it’ll be hard to fathom the dedication and work it must’ve taken to shoot such a project in this day and age on the micro-budget of an independent film. The sprawling barren landscapes will leave you wondering where such areas still exist in the U.S. The realistic “Old West” settings make you ponder how they were built and put together to look so authentic.
Another amazing thing about “Red on Yella, Kill a Fella” is how genuinely filthy and grimy everyone looks in the film. You really do believe you’re looking at outlaws living in the west who haven’t taken a shower in a week or so. The authenticity in the overall look of the movie is quite impressive.
The journey the outlaws embark on in “Red on Yella, Kill a Fella” take them in the direction of many different misadventures. It puts them on a path in which they meet several very interesting characters played by familiar genre icons. Bill “Leatherface 2” Johnson from “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” appears in a small and gory role. Edwin Neal, who played the Hitchhiker in the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” makes the most of his bloody brief appearance. Michael Berryman climbs out of the hills that have eyes to administer some painfully graphic medical help as a town doctor.
The script by Justin Meeks and Duane Graves unfolds slowly and methodically for “Red on Yella, Kill a Fella.” If you’re expecting the quick cuts, edits, and jumps of modern filmmaking, you’ll not find that here. The sort of pacing you get with this is reminiscent of the slow-boiling complex tales put on celluloid in the 1970s.
Let’s talk about the musical score for “Red on Yella, Kill a Fella” for a moment. Yes, you did read that correctly. There is an actual score for a low-budget independent film that sounds like a million dollars (or more). Composer John Constant gives you exactly what you would expect in a spaghetti western… and I mean that as a compliment. There are also contemporary country twangs that reminded me of the “Young Guns” movies.
The movie just got picked up for distribution by Image Entertainment and hasn’t been rated. I would give “Red on Yella, Kill a Fella” an R if it were put in my hands to do so. The movie contains nudity, sexuality, profanity, violence, gore, alcohol, smoking, and frightening and intense sequences. I’m not big on sexuality and nudity in films and it really doesn’t need to be in here. The two sequences I can think of right offhand easily could be taken out, opening it up to a broader audience who might not watch films which include those types of scenes. Editing them out of the film won’t cause people NOT to see the movie, but it might cause others TO watch it.
“Red on Yella, Kill a Fella” is an entirely new and unique hybrid in the world of cinema. Although movies like Wesley Snipes’ “Gallowwalkers” and DC Comics’ “Jonah Hex” have attempted to dabble in mixing horror and supernatural elements in to their western settings, Writer / Director Team Justin Meeks and Duane Graves make the blending feel natural. I didn’t even realize I was watching a slasher movie until about three quarters of the way through it. Just imagine a sprawling western epic in the grand tradition of John Ford and Sergio Leone if an enigmatic and sinister stalker were following the anti-heroes on their excursion. You get an idea of what to expect when climbing into the saddle for this thrill ride.