The Stranger (1995)- * *1\2
Directed by: Fritz Kiersch
Starring: Kathy Long, Eric Pierpoint, Danny Trejo, Ginger Lynn Allen, Nils Allen Stewart, and Andrew Divoff
In one of those dusty ol' western towns, a mysterious STRANGER rides in on her Harley. Known only as The Stranger (Long), she is looking for Angel (Divoff), the diabolical head of the local biker gang. Because Sheriff Gordon Cole (Pierpoint) is afraid of the bikers, they've slowly but surely proliferated in the small town. After noting that The Stranger looks exactly like a certain fiancee that was killed by the bikers, she then proceeds to get her own brand of personal revenge. If time allows, she'll also help some of the locals. But will the biker baddies - including Jonesy (Stewart) and Hawk (Trejo) - feel the wrath of some truly STRANGER things?
Kathy Long, from Rage and Honor (1992) and Under the Gun (1995), finally gets her own starring vehicle here, with The Stranger. People have said that it's a low-budget High Plains Drifter (1973) knockoff, but the Spaghetti Western-styled soundtrack would indicate that it's also influenced by the European Westerns that came decades before. It's also quite close in tone to Hell Riders (1984), or the type of thing that AIP was releasing at the time. You almost expect Rocky Patterson or Joe Estevez to pop up at any moment.
As for the cast that is here, Kathy Long is an appealing leading lady and this is clearly her moment in the sun. The Stranger certainly has no problem beating up the baddies. There actually should have been more of that. Ginger Lynn Allen was also a nice addition to the ensemble, and you know Nils Allen Stewart's character is evil because he has a threatening rattail. A young Danny Trejo rounds out the more familiar B-Movie names we all know and love.
The problem with the film is that the plot is so simple and minimalistic, it's hard to stretch that over 90 minutes or so. Without the addition of further plot twists or developments, or more action scenes, the energy really starts to flag around the halfway mark. Director Fritz Kiersch, known for his initial pair of 80's classics, Children of the Corn (1984) and Tuff Turf (1985), at first seems to be having fun with this small-scale film and its tough female lead. But perhaps he began to lose interest or something, because the second half lacks dynamism.
While it's certainly better than something like Lone Hero (2002), The Stranger doesn't seem to warrant its current status of "rare and sought-after movie". It's an easy fix: there should have been more concentration on Kathy Long beating up/killing people, perhaps in more locations than this one small Western town. What you do get of that is pretty great, But the film itself needed a shot in the arm after a certain point.
In the end, The Stranger is a worthwhile one-time watch, but we think that's about it.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty