He’s been nominated for way more Worst Actor Razzies than he has Oscars and inspired too many memes to handle, but Nicolas Cage has his revenge – and how – in the glorious bonkers, daft fun movie Mandy.
As a bereaved lover out for blood, Cage is unstintingly, resolutely fantastic in the hack ‘n’ slash 1980s genre homage.
Internationally, Mandy – with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 92 per cent – has been hailed a “masterpiece” by entertainment critics from publications including Newsweek, The New York Times and Time Out.
“There’s a masterful version of this movie that runs notably shorter, but that doesn’t mean there’s not an unforgettable one the way it is right now,” Brian Tallerico raved at RogerEbert.com.
Even more intriguing, Australian audiences will have just one chance to see it on the big screen – for now.
After debuting at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Mandy screened last month as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival’s 12-hour Cage-a-thon that also included Vampire’s Kiss, Drive Angry and Red Rock West.
Fans nationwide will be treated to a one-night-only encore this Friday, care of Monster Fest and distributors Madman Entertainment.
We’ve seen Cage caning it down the highway with stolen nappies in Raising Arizona, throwing down on a plane over a stuffed rabbit in Con Air, and facing off with John Travolta in Face Off.
In the synth-scored Mandy, he delivers a bundle more, from a neat vodka-blazing, coke-snorting breakdown to a gory chainsaw battle.
Playing like Stranger Things on steroids with sex, drugs, heavy metal and extreme Tarantino-esque violence, the movie brings the memes harder than an axe to the face (more on that later).
Directed by Canadian Panos Cosmatos, Mandy sees Cage playing lumberjack Red. It’s not just his name but the predominant colour scheme of this visually arresting, neon-lit movie.
A gentle giant of a man, he lives a peaceful hippie dip of a life in the woods with fantasy novel-reading fellow stoner girlfriend Mandy, an unrecognisable Andrea Riseborough from Battle of the Sexes.
Their trippy bliss is obliterated by the arrival of crazy cult the Children of the New Dawn, led by Linus Roache’s creepy Jeremiah Sand.
Even though he and his wacked-out followers ostensibly pray to Jesus, Sand’s not above summoning leather-clad demon bikers with the aid of some black magic pipe.
When this leads to Mandy’s kidnap and eventual blistering fate, a barbed wire-chained Red snaps in one of the all-time best Cage goes wild scenes.
Breaking free of his crown of rusty thorns and grabbing a vodka bottle, he patches up his physical wounds in a blaze of mayhem – even as his mental ones tear him apart.
Red arms himself with axe that’s part ‘80s fantasy flick Krull, part Thor’s hammer, and adds to his arsenal with the help of caravan-dwelling weapons dealer Caruthers (Bill Duke).
After a slow burn start that’s all impending menace – like the family relocation to an icebound hotel you know is going to go horribly wrong in The Shining – Mandy kicks into high grinding gear as Red seeks vengeance.
Expect bloody hell to break loose as he takes to those demon bikers with that axe and guarantees another iconic meme moment as he inhales a pile of broken glass.
A demonic brew gives him prophetic visions – featuring Riseborough in warrior princess mode – that all leads to a showdown against Sand.
Cage isn’t just the master of volcanic outbursts. He balances the gonzo violence with real emotion and heart in this soon-to-be cult favourite.
Mandy screens nationally September 21, presented by Monster Fest. For details, click here.