Outside Ozona

Love, serial murder and a bit with a dog: What audience wouldn't go home happy? This modest thriller follows several late-night motorists on an almost-deserted Southwestern highway as they speed toward their various dates with destiny, which converge outside the Texas town of Ozona. The connecting thread is KWOK DJ Dix (Taj Mahal), who -- to the dismay...read more

Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
Rating:

Love, serial murder and a bit with a dog: What audience wouldn't go home happy? This modest thriller follows several late-night motorists on an almost-deserted Southwestern highway as they speed toward their various dates with destiny, which

converge outside the Texas town of Ozona. The connecting thread is KWOK DJ Dix (Taj Mahal), who -- to the dismay of his harried station manager (Meat Loaf) -- is waging a private little rebellion against the station's C&W format by taking calls from night owls and spinning a smoky mix of rhythm

and blues numbers. The travelers include a gentle trucker (Robert Forster, who took over the role when J.T. Walsh died three days before production was to start) hauling a load of liquid hydrogen, a bickering couple (Penelope Ann Miller, Kevin Pollack: she's a stripper, he's a pissed-off clown), a

Navajo woman (Kateri Walker) taking her dying grandma (Lois Red Elk) to see the Gulf of Mexico, and a pair of squabbling sisters (Sherilyn Fenn, Beth Ann Styne) who pick up an apparently mild-mannered hitchhiker (David Paymer). Make no mistake, this is basically direct-to-video fare. But it's

better than average direct-to-video fare that favors atmosphere and character-driven scenes (some of which are considerably better than others) over mutilated corpses, though anyone who gets the willies at deserted highway rest stops will be particularly hard put to banish the image of the torso

in the ladies room. Writer/director J.S. Cardone (whose resume includes several unmemorable exploitation pictures) clearly aspired to more than a sleazy slice-'em-up, and delivered a diverting little mood piece that's better than it has to be.

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