What makes them more "bad" than these two serial killers in this sense then is that is that they have less charisma. They're too sweaty and full of craven sneers. Plus: they're not in love, or prone to hallucinations. They got no 'it' factor.
|Stalin his orgasm... for her pleasure
Where Oliver Stone also rises above Gilliam and Russell bombast is there is no doubt this man has walked the walk, psychedelically speaking. He's quite open about it in interviews, and the thumbprint of the trickster is heavy on his brow, which is a very paradoxical weight for the trickster thumbprint. Yes, the overall Stone bombast can wear thin if you're in a peaceful mood, but it's great when you're wasted, and even better when you're really wasted, as in on the third night of a bender, or waking up out of a black-out and discovering it on the hotel room's HBO along with a still half-full bottle of vodka on the bureau, both are situations I can personally vouch for. And the scene where Micky and Mallory take mushrooms in the desert is so vivid I feel it in my pineal gland. They wind up, as high desert voyagers will, in the strange tepee of an ancient Native American, who reads "Too Much TV" on their shirts and realizes almost instantly he's already as good as dead. The presence of many rattlesnakes on the ground is another indication of the psychedelic effect, the feeling that dangerous critters are all around, and that being bitten by a venomous snake has, in some sense, already happened to you before you are even bit... if you even really are. Just thinking about it gives you the feeling of being bit. You jerk up your arm from the sting and then realize there's no bite.
Stone gets that. He knows and is able to capture how, in the realms of the psychedelic spore, all shadows take on serpentine dimensions, how the world breathes before you and around you, the dragon that Merlin talks of in EXCALIBUR. Seeing our sociopathic lovers stagger through an all-night drug mart is to remember perhaps doing the same thing yourself once, racing down twisting over-lit store aisles at 4:20 in the morning, your brain exploding with overpowering images of blood and carnage and thoughts you took too much of whatever you took--hopefully not datrura root--and are going to die, trying to find the gallon-size bottle of Nyquil to knock you unconscious before you start screaming and laughing at the same time and then can't stop, and then someone calls the cops who call your parents. Bummer! That's why you got to be cool, man, and keep it together.
There are lots of moments of great revenge along the way, from the beating up of Rodney Dangerfield through to the scene illustrated below. The idea here is that all of society has committed a heinous crime against our violent young lovers, either through inbred sexist piggery or accompanying tolerance of same. Stone's a deconstructing over-thinker like the Scotts Ridley and Tony, the Terry Gilliam, etc., but at least where they refuse to leave the safety of a corny core narrative, Stone plunges into the abyss of Godardian self-reflexive post-modernism --everything from French New Wave to McDonald's, even the sailor who does the soft shoe. Even if stretches bore you or seem trite it's never long before there's another memorable set piece or off-the-cuff cuff-offing. Just don't, if you end up going on a killing spree after watching it a hundred times, let your parents sue Oliver Stone, or me. If you play it backwards you'll get the real Satanic message of the film: All is Love... All is love. Kill your ego first, and the asses will follow, one by one, like ducks in a shooting gallery.