MARK GREGORY WEEK: Thunder 3 (1988)

It’s time for our favorite Native American warrior, Thunder, to return. This time, he takes on a racist militia in Las Cruces, New Mexico. They’ve refused to pay the very specific amount of $53,000 for attacking and abusing him (yes, Thunder gets beat up again) after destroying his village.

If the promise of Mark Gregory wearing buckskin and teaching children how to shoot arrows seems like a good idea, then you’re ready for this one. Actually, this feels incredibly prescient, as a bunch of good old boys get all trashed on beer and male bonding before entering his village en masse and starting some shit.

Yes, director Fabrizio De Angelis is back for a third Thunder film, along with Mark Gregory and the man who seemingly wrote every Italian movie in the 1980s and 1990s, Dardano Sacchetti. Coming along for the ride as Sherriff Jeff? Diabolik himself, John Phillip Law!

The bad guys are beyond bad here, as they whip our hero and drag him behind a truck before blowing up his village. Of course, Thunder has been dragged behind a truck before. He just wants paid in cash this time, trying to be peaceful.

That said — we all know why we’re watching a Thunder movie. We want the slowly simmering, bad acting of Mark Gregory to explode into violence, baseball batting, gathering an army of Native American warriors and jumping dirt bikes. It’s more of the same, but watching this film in the pst-Trump era makes me feel like it could really happen. You get frame after frame of heavy set MAGA types shooting up a reservation while their leader watches from a helicopter. Actually, it feels way too real.

So how does Mark Gregory react to these red staters blowing up his home and making him run behind their trucks while tied to the bumper? By getting all pouty. Such are the acting chops of Gregory!

How did three Thunder movies get made? Was there such a demand for them? Were video stores really that awesome that they potentially could have an entire Thunder section? Dare I dream of a video store with a Dardano Sacchetti section, where I could choose to rent favorites such as Manhattan Baby and Warriors of the Year 2072?

Keep in mind, this movie may give you a seizure like you’re in a Cronenberg film. I mean, just to set up the scene where Thunder decimates a classic car with a baseball bat, we get a long, loving look at an old redneck in short shorts lovingly washing said car. Then Mark Gregory tears that car apart like only he can. And by that, I mean he stares off into space while absentmindedly hitting it with a bat before heading off to a hardware store filled with people and going buck futter in the aisles until the shop owner pulls a gun — in front of paying customers, no less!  You’ve never seen a store so shitty or one that sells stuff that is near unnecessary that isn’t called the Red White and Blue Thrift Store in your life! And then to top this all off, Thunder fills the aisles with gasoline — that he pulled off the shelf, because that’s how it’s stored — and sets the store on fire! And it’s a drugstore, not a hardware store, a store that has full cans of gas right next to TV sets. The world of Thunder is not our own. It is a parallel universe of goofball lunacy, one where one lone man who walks as if he has a tomahawk up his ass can wear tight jeans, a fringed shirt and turquoise whilst leading the local fuzz on one hell of a manhunt.

How many times must they burn down Thunder’s home, tie up his woman and beat him? Well, once he brings an entire army of Native Americans on horseback to beat up three rednecks, that seems like it should be the last time, right? If Thunder had this whole posse on his side the whole time, where were they when he was being dragged behind a car? It’s best not to ask these kinds of questions and just sit back and watch them chase those guys down and give out some justice, I guess.

This movie also makes some major leaps of tone, such as how we go from this chase to a wacky truck stuck in the desert scene, complete with goofball synth. Then, Thunder lays down the law to the cops. It’s time for his brand of law with the white man. And right after that, an entire lineup of big fat white dudes shoot up the shack where Thunder is hiding as he makes big goofy eyes and runs away. Man, Thunder. You can’t catch a break.

Our hero replies by busting up a political rally by blowing stuff up real good as he rides in on a dirt bike, face painted up and ready for a fight. He ends up trying to bury one of the fat politicians alive rather than take a payoff, but gets held up by the sheriff. He gets the money and uses it to rebuild the village before heading off into the sunset with his woman.

One supposes that because we never got Thunder 4 that this was the last time he got in trouble with the law. Me, I’m still holding out hope. I mean, after a week of Mark Gregory movies, I realize that I have watched every single second that he ever committed to film. And now, I have both a sense of completeness and sadness. Do I have to use Go Fund Me to make the Italian action film of my dreams, a movie where Thunder meets Trash in the future and they walk in way too tight denim down an alley before somersaulting through fire?

You can grab this at Revok. Or use the internet to find double dubbed versions of it like me.

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