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Drugstore Cowboy

Drugstore Cowboy (1989)

Director: Gus Van Sant
Writer: James Fogle (Novel), Gus Van Sant (Screenplay)
Starring: Matt Dillon, Kelly Lynch, James LeGros
How I Watched It: Netflix Instant View
Review By: Griff


I remember going to see this film when it came out back in 1989. At the time it wasn’t showing on any of the big screens so I had to check it out at Clark University, a local College in the area. They had a tiny little theater there where they showed independent and art house movies called cinema 320. At the time I was about 17 or so and this movie really blew me away. I thought it was amazing. So I was curious how I would feel about it now, some 23 years later.

Matt Dillion plays Bob, a drug addict who gets his fix by robbing local drug stores in the area. To assist him in his efforts he assemble a small gang consisting of his girlfriend Diane (Kelly Lynch), his friend Rick (James LeGros), and Rick’s girlfriend Nadine (Heather Graham).

The group exists by moving from job to and apartment to apartment always chasing the next fix. They are also very much on the radar of a local police detective named Gentry (James Remar). He harasses them constantly and is always trying to catch them red handed.

Things are going as well as could be expected for the group until they run into a series of bad luck. Bob is very superstitious and has a list of rules that should not be violated or you will put a hex on everyone. Rick and Nadine start things off by mentioning a dog which Bob views as extremely bad luck. He as an issue for his past involving a dog and he decides that the crew now has been hit by a hex so they need to lay low and get out of town for a bit.

While they are traveling they happen upon a big score at a drugstore that has accidentally left a window open. During the robbery Nadine messes things up a bit and gets in argument with Bob. Later that night Nadine argues with Rick and fears that she will be kicked out of the gang. In a fit of rage she commits what Bob considers to be the biggest violation of bad luck possible. She puts a hat on the bed. For Bob, there is no bigger hex. A hat on the bed leads to potentially years of bad luck.

As it turns out, bad things really do start to happen and Bob becomes convinced that the hat on the bed has cursed them. He decides to leave the gang and try to get off drugs, but he soon finds out that leaving your past behind is not as easy as it seems.

I have to admit I really enjoyed revisiting this movie. Some of the cinematic techniques seem a little dated at this point but this is still very well acted. To this day I still remember some of the classic lines from this film which is a testament to the impact that it had on me. This was Gus Van Sants breakthrough movie and it sparked a bit of a revitalization of Matt Dillion’s career. It was also a very early role for Heather Graham who looks like she is about 15 years old in this movie (She was 18). The also a really strange cameo from William Burroughs in this movie that might make it worth a watch all by itself. If you have never seen Drugstore Cowboy I recommend you check it out if you have seen it, then it is definitely worth revisiting. Drugstore Cowboy gets 2 1/2 guys from me.




Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Adam January 5, 2013, 3:03 pm

    I added this to my Netflix queue about a year ago and have yet to re-watch it. I recall really digging this the first time I watched it. Heather Graham …. meow.

    I like how you gave a shout out to my Alma Mater Clark University. Go Clark Cougars!

    That Cinema 320 is still up and running and has been going since 1982. With adult tickets at $6 Scott should be heading over there to get his deal on.

    • scottydynamite January 5, 2013, 3:44 pm

      I try my best to avoid Worcester unless the wife talks me into something. I have seen one film there in the last 20 years.

      • Adam January 10, 2013, 3:11 pm

        wait a minute weren’t you encouraging people to go watch movies on Worcester Common?

  • scottydynamite January 5, 2013, 3:45 pm

    This was one of my first independent films I saw and it changed my idea of what movies were at the time. I watched it a few months ago and still enjoyed it.

  • Fogs January 8, 2013, 11:26 am

    This was a nice flick to spotlight, I love this one. I rewatched it maybe three years or so ago now, and you’re right, it holds up pretty well.

    One of the best drug addiction movies ever. Love Dillion’s speech at the end about huffing gasoline if he needs to in order to get high. So f’ed up…

  • Adam January 9, 2013, 1:37 pm

    The last pic reminds me of when we were living at Fox St in Worcester. ;-)

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