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Film / Purgatory

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A 1999 made for TV Western about a ruthless band of outlaws that end up in the town of Refuge. At first it seems to be a bandit's dream come true, where even the Sheriff won't use a gun. Of course nothing is as it seems, and it turns out that Refuge is a last chance town for the marginally good to redeem themselves after they die by living peacefully for ten years.

This show provides examples of:

  • An Aesop: Violence is usually bad, but sometimes it's the only way to defend others from attackers bent on violence.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Whether you led a gang of murderous outlaws, killed your father after he'd been molesting you for seven years, or sold your body and gambled regularly, if you don't want to go to Hell after you die, you've got to live cleanly in Refuge for a decade.
  • The Atoner: Everyone in Refuge, though Lefty Slade fails.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Wild Bill Hickock can do it while firing one handed.
  • Bolt of Divine Retribution: Special delivery from God.
  • Broken Masquerade: It slowly falls apart due to Sonny recognizing the townspeople.
  • Cutesy Name Town: The film takes place in a town called Refuge.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Dolly Stone dies in Sonny's arms, which is why he's so adamant on who she is when she turns up in Refuge.
  • Divine Intervention: Shockingly, God isn't too pleased with Blackjack & Co. messing around with His town.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: Blackjack and Calvin's bodies are hauled up to the edge off a cliff and dumped into the fiery pit below at the end of the movie.
  • Dude He's Like Semiconscious After A Beating: Rose/Betty kisses Sonny after he closes his eyes. They're half open again by the time she pulls back.
  • Empathic Environment: When the bandits start going too far, there are rainstorms and tremors.
  • Evil Uncle: Sonny's uncle Calvin, a ruthless bandit and rapist. In the end he tries to gun his own nephew down.
  • Famed in Story: It is the Wild West. Still, Sonny can recognize many of the townsfolk from dime novels he's read about them.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Death is nothing compared to the penalty for violence.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: The entrance to Hell is a river of fire.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: The Indian and coach driver are angels.
  • God: He's running the whole show.
  • God Is Good: He's a strict example of Good Is Not Soft, but gives people a second chance and understands the need to defend your home.
    Coach driver: "The Creator may be tough, but he ain't blind."
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The camera cuts away just before Lefty stabs a bandit with his shovel.
  • Go Through Me: The sheriff stands in front of the church doors, unarmed, to stop the outlaws throwing knives at it. When one of them aims for his throat, lightning strikes him dead.
  • Historical Domain Character: Both Wild Bill Hickok and Billy the Kid appear.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Dolly Stone, though she says the dime novels exaggerate it.
  • I Choose to Stay: The coachman gives Sonny the chance to to join him, no questions asked. Sonny opts to stay in Refuge, with Rose.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: People die, but it takes a lot of firing to do it. Except when the plot calls for it, of course.
  • Insult Backfire: At the final shootout.
    Blackjack: "Your mother's a whore."
    Wild Bill: "I have no mother."
  • Kick the Dog: Throwing knives at the church, and the bandit who tramples Lefty's garden just to be an asshole.
  • Magical Native American: More specifically, St. Peter in Indian form.
  • The Masquerade: None of the townspeople will admit to who they were - at first.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Lightning strikes one of the gang just as he's about to throw his knife at the sheriff.
  • Meaningful Echo: "Welcome to Refuge." First said to Blackjack's gang, then Dolly and the other recently-dead. Finally said to Sonny when he wonders why his fatal wounds don't hurt.
  • Meaningful Rename: The townsfolk of Refuge were all outlaws, murderers or prostitutes, but while there they shed their old, famous names for nature-themed ones. Glen, Lamb, Rose, Ivy, etc. It's part of an attempt to put all that behind them, apparently. During the final few scenes they use their famous names again, since they think they're about to go to Hell anyway.
  • Mercy Kill: Blackjack's brother is wounded in the initial shootout. Blackjack wants to just leave him to die slowly once he can't stay ahorse, claiming he can't spare the bullets to put him out of his misery. Sonny does it for him.
  • Mauve Shirt: During the opening bank robbery, there's a uncredited, long-haired lawman who does a decent job in the firefight against the gang, managing to survive the battle, and later leading a posse after them, chasing them into the storm that takes the gang to Refuge.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Blackjack and the gang give one to Sonny for standing up to them.
  • Offhand Backhand: Doc Holliday does this with guns, casually shooting the bandit sneaking up behind him as he insults Blackjack.
  • Playing Possum: Billy the Kid falls down with a dead bandit, closes his eyes, and slooooowly reloads his gun.
  • Rape as Backstory: Rose is there because she was hung after killing her father who molested her for years.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Granted he was never really bad, but Sonny did beg to join Blackjack's band, knowing fully what they did. Of course, he doesn't have too far to go once he dies.
  • Red Shirt Army: The outlaw gang. The film makes little effort to be consistent with how many of them there are, and aside from Blackjack, Sonny and Calvin, only one or two of them get any names or characterization at all.
  • Refusing Paradise: The single good-aligned bandit is dead and gets the chance to skip waiting in purgatory for ten years and go straight to Heaven, but he decides to stay because the town needs a good sheriff to protect it while its residents seek redemption.
  • Resigned to the Call: Some of the townspeople decide to take up arms even though (they think) it'll mean going to Hell.
    Wild Bill: What do you think you're doing?
    Billy the Kid: Down the hole's down the hole. Might as well have some fun on the way.
  • Retirony: The Sheriff, who is a few days from going home when Blackjack shows up. Inverted in that "retiring" means dying, and subverted in that he gets to go to Heaven anyway.
  • Romantic False Lead: Dolly is set up as the romantic interest for Sonny, especially when she ends up in Refuge, but he ends up with Rose.
  • See You in Hell: Used a few times. An outlaw says "We've got a long ride ahead of us. Those who can keep up with me, I'll see you in Chihuahua. The rest of you, I'll see you in Hell." As it turns out, though, it is the ones who keep up with him who end up going with him into Hell.
  • Shovel Strike: Lefty stabs a bandit with his shovel.
  • The So-Called Coward: The entire town, who are actually some of the most dangerous people in The Wild West.
  • Superweapon Surprise: A group of bandits came across a town named Refuge, which is apparently populated by nothing but actual pacifists - even the Sheriff would not raise his weapon in the face of imminent threat. This made the town easy prey for the bandits, but it was slowly revealed that the citizens were outlaws who were granted a chance to redeem themselves: live for 10 years in peace, or go to Hell. When push finally comes to shove, the bandits found out they were facing legendary figures such as Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Wild Bill Hickok, and Doc Holliday.
  • Take Up My Sword: Wild Bill gives his badge to Sonny when Sonny declines to take the easy way to Heaven.
  • Themed Aliases: Residents of Refuge are all given new, nature-related names like Forrest, Ivy, and Rose.
  • Token Good Teammate: Sonny is the only decent and good hearted member of Blackjack's gang.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Although the secret is disturbing, it's not dark per se.
  • Villain Ball: Blackjack and his band of outlaws. They ride into a weird little town whose pacifistic, religious inhabitants give them food and drink including alcohol, stable their horses, put them up in the hotel, and doctor their wounds all without payment. Said inhabitants really don't want trouble, to the point of not doing anything when the outlaws steal ammunition. The outlaws could just take the hospitality and go, stealing stuff on the way out. Was it really necessary to keep trying to kill people, wreck stuff, and rape the women, to the point where the townsfolk, who are actually dead famous outlaws, finally decide enough is enough.
  • Villain Protagonist/Decoy Protagonist: Blackjack's gang.
  • Weird West
  • The Western: With supernatural elements.
  • When It Rains, It Pours: The only rainstorm in the movie is a massive downpour, though it wasn't natural.