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DVD Review: "Danger God"

According to publicists for Wildeye Releasing, the main subject for the documentary “Danger God” (stuntman Gary Kent) provided the inspiration for Brad Pitt’s character in the recent Quentin Tarantino film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

The DVD review copy of Joe O’Connell’s documentary does not appear to confirm this, although it does confirm Kent’s encounter with Charles Manson and members of his family on the Spahn ranch.

The film chronicles the life and career of Kent, who is expectedly a grizzled old veteran of the early era of exploitation films that culminated in what is commonly known as the “grindhouse” era. The film draws clips from several of his films such as “Hell’s Angels on Wheels” and the odd but well-regarded cult Westerns of Monte Hellman, although it is by no means comprehensive. Interviews with film personalities such as Richard Rush (“The Stuntman”) and Marc Singer (“The Beastmaster”) provide some perspective. Information on exploitation directors such as Al Adamson and Ray Dennis Steckler is interesting but brief.

Kent transitioned from a stuntman to an actor and a variety of other production roles. There is some information on the stunt profession but the focus of the film is squarely on a character study of Kent (his two marriages, his health problems, his earlier family life). The last act of the film focuses largely on his woes and adopts a melancholy tone – there is something a little sad about someone as prolific as Kent appearing in “Virgin Cheerleaders in Chains.”

“Danger God” may leave the curious wanting more information on its subject. But it remains an interesting snapshot of an earlier era of the film industry’s fringes.

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