'Searchers 2.0': Justice. Gas. Revenge.

Two failed actors journey to Monument Valley to exact revenge on the screenwriter who tormented them as children.

Searchers 2.0

Director: Alex Cox
Cast: Del Zamora, Ed Pansullo, Jaclyn Jonet, Sy Richardson
Distributor: Mircocinema International
Rated: NR
Release Date: 2010-10-26

For a long time Alex Cox’s road-trip, revenge, comedy, Searchers 2.0 was only available overseas, or as a bootleg, that is, until now. The film has finally been released on Region 1 DVD.

Searchers 2.0 is the story of never-was actors Mel Torres (Del Zamora) and Fred Fletcher (Ed Pansullo). Since they have nothing else in the world, they cling to their days spent playing bit parts in studio westerns, ignoring and shunning all real world attachments and commitments. They can name every master-of-arms from Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy, but Mel is so laid-back that he doesn’t realize he’s a dead-beat dad, and Fred is full of rants and tirades on various conflicting topics and ideologies.

As child actors Mel and Fred were whipped and terrorized by notorious screenwriter Fritz Frobisher (Sy Richardson). In a quest for retribution, the pair set off to Monument Valley, where Frobisher is scheduled to appear at a screening of one of his films. Neither unemployed actor has a car, so they con Delilah (Jaclyn Jonet), Mel’s estranged daughter, into driving them into the desert. What follows is hallucinatory journey that is primarily concerned with making points about consumer culture, war, revenge, and justice, while taking on the icons of Hollywood westerns.

Cox populates his minimalist “microfeature” with a cast of regulars. Zamora and Pansullo have appeared in numerous Cox films. Sy Richardson is amazing. His grizzled, cowboy-hat-wearing Frobisher is the highlight of the film. Searchers 2.0 is reminiscent of Trent Harris’s 1991 wing-nut classic, Rubin and Ed. In both films an odd-couple, thrown together by chance, set off on a crazy, cross-desert trek. Cox’s bathroom mirror with the wording “Fuck A John Wayne” sprawled across it calls to mind Harris’ spray paint “Andy Warhol Sucks A Big One” graffiti.

Produced by low-budget legend, Roger Corman, Searchers 2.0 was shot in less than two weeks for $180,000. This can be a boon, but it can also prove to be a hindrance. Filmed on digital video, at times it looks wonderful, notably when capturing the sweeping mesas of the American Southwest. Other times, especially within interiors of buildings and the car, the picture is grainy and muddy, and the camera movements are jerky and halting. The editing can be dodgy, especially at the end of scenes, which often cut away too quickly.

Richardson nails his part as the iconoclastic Frobisher, and Jonet gives a nice performance as a daughter desperately trying to connect with her distant father, but there are quite a few flubbed lines and stumbles that can be jarring to watch. On the other hand, there are some wonderful spontaneous moments that come out of shooting a film in this loose fashion. Mel and Fred arguing about who is a better tool of cinematic western vengeance, Charles Bronson or Clint Eastwood, is chief among these.

Much of Searchers 2.0 is uneven, and fantastic moments clash with cringe-inducing elements. The road-trip is largely spent on bickering and rants that occur without much context. However, when the Mel and Fred finally reach Monument Valley, and there is an immediate purpose at hand, the film turns into something magnificent. Up until then Searchers 2.0 is interesting as an artifact of guerilla filmmaking, but not that entertaining to watch. However, the end is truly awe-inspiring, culminating in a spaghetti western trivia showdown, and is up there with Repo Man for weirdo endings. Both the film and the characters finally realize themselves, in the same place at the same time.

The DVD comes with a disappointing behind the scenes feature. There's too much extra footage of empty, silent landscapes, and not enough actual content, like interviews with the people involved. On the other hand, the commentary track with Cox and others is great. Listening to Cox’s soothing British accent is (to American-English ears) entertaining, and he manages to always be interesting, whether he is talking about life on the set, an actor’s performance, or the political implications in the film.


In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Multi-tasking on your smart phone consumes too many resources, including memory, and can cause the system to "choke". Imagine what it does to your brain.

In the simplest of terms, Adam Gazzaley and Larry D. Rosen's The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World is a book about technology and the distractions that often accompany it. This may not sound like anything earth shattering. A lot of people have written about this subject. Still, this book feels a little different. It's a unique combination of research, data, and observation. Equally important, it doesn't just talk about the problem—it suggests solutions.

Keep reading... Show less

The husband and wife duo DEGA center their latest slick synthpop soundscape around the concept of love in all of its stages.

Kalen and Aslyn Nash are an indie pop super-couple if there ever were such a thing. Before becoming as a musical duo themselves, the husband and wife duo put their best feet forward with other projects that saw them acclaim. Kalen previously provided his chops as a singer-songwriter to the Georgia Americana band, Ponderosa. Meanwhile, Aslyn was signed as a solo artist to Capitol while also providing background vocals for Ke$ha. Now, they're blending all of those individual experiences together in their latest project, DEGA.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.