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Film / Lust in the Dust

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Lust in the Dust is a 1985 Western comedy film directed by Paul Bartel. The film stars Divine in one of his few non–John Waters roles as a dance hall girl who arrives in Chili Verde with a drifter (Tab Hunter) in search of gold.

The title is derived from a nickname for King Vidor's Duel in the Sun. It was largely ignored in its initial release but has become something of a Cult Classic over the years.


The film provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Marguerita first appears with her shotgun and threatening "Freeze, hombre, or I'll be wearing your asshole for a garter."
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • Red Dick's exchange with Rosie:
      Red Dick: They call me "Red Dick".
      (Rosie Double Takes)
      Red Dick: On account of my hair.
    • When the town is lynching Abel:
      Father Garcia: (praying) Blessed mother, tell me, please? (sad) Why don't they ever invite me to their parties?
  • Bestiality Is Depraved:
    • Abel tells Father Garcia (Cesar Romero) that Doc Holliday really liked horses.
    • Then there's Hard Case Williams:
      Hard Case: I've had carnal knowledge of 215 women and two goats...
      Chang: And the chicken?
      (Hard Case makes a so-so gesture)
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Marguerita's reaction to seeing Abel's penis is "Ay, caramba!" and fanning herself. Abel himself hints at this when he talks about having sex with the "Lockjaw Indians."
    Father Garcia: You mean the Choctaw Indians. There are no Lockjaw Indians.
    Abel: There are now.
  • Advertisement:
  • Big "NO!": After Abel Wood kills Bernardo's henchmen.
    Marguerita: Accident?
    Abel: They moved.
    Marguerita: Shut up, Bernardo.
  • Bloodless Carnage: No matter who gets shot, there's not even a squib or a drop of blood spilt, since that would ruin the comedic mood of the film.
  • Body Double: An obvious one is used for when Clarence rips off Rosie's top. (Obvious because Divine is a drag queen.)
  • Bookends: The film begins and ends with someone shooting a bird for Rosie to eat. Abel in the beginning, Rosie herself in the end.
  • Casting Gag: The film pays Homage of B-Westerns of the past, featuring Western staples Tab Hunter, Woody Strode, and Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez (best known for Rio Bravo).
  • Cat Fight: Rosie and Marguerita finally have it out in a Bar Fight. The barflies thoroughly enjoy the spectacle.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Everyone, even Abel. Only Big Ed proves trustworthy.
  • Compensating for Something: Lampshaded by Rosie when the dwarf starts fingering her. (Not that she minds.)
    Rosie: (sighing) Always the little one got something to prove.
  • Cover Version: Of sorts. Divine did a cover of The Four Seasons' "Walk Like a Man", and the music video promoted the film. (The song itself never appears in the film).
  • Deadpan Snarker: Abel, even when he's silent for the first third of the film.
    Ninfa: I am the best french-kisser in Chile Verde.
    Abel: If I meet a Frenchman, I'll let him know.
  • Death by Materialism: The only one to emerge from the film unscathed besides Abel is Big Ed, because she doesn't care about the gold, save having enough to get her to Abilene.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The opening song mentions the "blistering, burning, blazing, scorching, roasting, toasting, baking, boiling, broiling, steaming, searing, sizzling, grilling, smoldering, very hot New Mexico sun."
  • Depraved Dwarf: One of Hard Case Williams' gang, Clarence (played by Daniel Frishman) is one of these, who ends up injured while trying to get some with Rosie. In fact, the first thing he does in the film is rip off Rosie's top, as Hard Case notes his men "are hornier than jackrabbits."
  • Driven to Suicide: Parodied. Rosie moans she has nothing to live for anymore, and it cuts away to Abel and Big Ed bowing their heads when they hear a gunshot. A seemingly dead Rosie then wakes up, because the bird she'd shot had finished cooking. She tells the camera, "Oh well. Maybe he'll be back tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day."
  • Elective Mute: Abel is this, speaking perhaps upwards of a third of the film.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: It's even discussed in the opening monologue that everyone in the film are obsessed with fucking because of the desert heat. Rosie's claim of being a virgin is quickly debunked by Hard Case, who says she's a "slut from a Santa Fe whorehouse".note 
  • Five-Token Band: Hard Case's gang consists of one white guy, one African-American, one Asian, one Latino and one dwarf. This is obviously a Lampshade as three of their names is "Blackman", "Mexican" and "Chang".
  • Groin Attack:
    • Abel shoots Bernard right in the crotch with a shotgun.
    • Hard Case kicks Abel there during their fight.
    • Marguerita later threatens Hard Case with a scissor to the balls.
  • Hidden Badass: Big Ed.
  • Intercourse with You:
    • Marguerita's song "South of My Border" definitely qualifies.
      Marguerita: Let me take you sound of my border / Just north of my garter...
    • Rosie's song "These Lips Were Made For Kissin'" also is one.
      Rosie: These legs / Were made for wrapping around you / So tight / Olay every night!
  • Intimate Marks: Both Rosie and Marguerita have tattoos on their posteriors, which, put together, form the map to the gold.
  • Life Isn't Fair:
    Ninfa: Life, she's a bitch, señor.
    Abel: That she is.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Abel is a Parody of The Man With No Name, sharing the same blond hair and poncho.
  • Parody: The entire film is both a parody and an Homage of Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns, from the quiet morally ambiguous protagonist to the Chronic Backstabbing Disorder of the local townsfolk.
  • Raging Stiffie: Hard Case Williams is roasted by Big Ed for having this when she enters his room.
    Hardcase: Lady, this is no time to be pointing an accusing finger.
    Big Ed: At least it's only my finger that's pointing!
  • Really Gets Around:
    • Marguerita, to the point where Fr. Garcia immediately knows when Abel comes to confessional. Abel is this as well, in said confessional.
    • Rosie also can't get enough, and she was a dance hall girl.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Rosie gives an epic one to Marguerita:
      Rosie: Ever since I came here, you've done nothing but treat me like shit. Who the hell do you think you are? Yeah, I was a dance hall girl, but what makes you so high and mighty? You own a whorehouse! A whorehouse!... and with only three whores in it. One of them is just a senile old cow. (to Big Ed) No offense, honey. (to Maguerita) And the other one's so new at it, she doesn't know which end to use. So what does that make you? The only whore in Chili Verde! Yeah, I came here for the gold, because I've been poor all my life.
      Marguerita: You've got it all wrong, honey. You've been cheap all your life.
      Rosie: Cheap?! (picks up a chair, and breaks it over Maguerita) This furniture is cheap.
    • Rosie also drunkenly adds her own lyric to Marguerita's song "South of My Border":
      Rosie: Sure, let her take you south of her border / If you think you can afford her!
  • Redheads Are Uncool: "Red Dick" (named such, according to him, because of his red hair) is a scrawny kid of 19 who becomes instantly infatuated with Rosie, who does appreciate his physique ("Woof! What a body!"). This does not end well for him.
  • Separated at Birth: Fr. Garcia reveals that "Cactus" Kaplan tattooed the map to his stolen loot on his infant daughters' (Rosie and Marguerita) rear ends. The girls were raised by separate foster families.
  • Shout-Out: The final lines are one to Gone with the Wind, complete with Tara's Theme.
    Rosie: Oh well. Maybe he'll be back tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.
  • Shower of Love: Abel and Marguerita share one of these upon his arrival in Chili Verde.
  • Snarking Thanks: Rosie begging Abel to let her tag along.
    Rosie: Please! I've got nothing to eat.
    (Abel looks up, fires his gun, and shoots a vulture.)
    Rosie: ...Thanks.
  • Shoot the Rope: When a lynch mob tries to hang Abel, Big Ed shoots the rope, allowing him to escape.
  • Suddenly Ethnicity: Father Garcia reveals Marguerita and Rosie are twin sisters, their father "Cactus" Kaplan.
    Marguerita and Rosie: The Kaplan Sisters?!
    Rosie: Oy vey.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Rosie shoots Marguerita in a tussle for the gold; when Marguerita gets a shot in retaliation after falling, Rosie shoots her several more times.
  • Undying Loyalty: Big Ed saves Abel's life twice.
  • Volleying Insults: Rosie and Marguerita's interactions can mostly be described as this.
    Rosie: I slept like a log.
    Marguerita: Why not? You look like one.
  • Whip It Good: Marguerita's Weapon of Choice is a bull whip.


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