This one usually gets classified as a Western, and much of the debate surrounding the film is about the supernatural-ish story it tells. There is ongoing discussion about what, exactly, Clint Eastwoods character is, and what role he serves. Theres no question: Hes a ghost. And hes out for blood. The important thing to understand about High Plains Drifter is that Clint Eastwoods The Stranger is not the main character. The main character is the town of Lago, which he strolls into one day, having wandered out of the desert haze. The inhabitants of Lago are all casually amoral beasts who have committed a grave, unspoken crime. Eastwood is the wrath that descends on them, but he takes his time. Like Plainview, the danger of The Stranger is in the way that he quietly plays on that moral weakness, ingratiating himself deeper and deeper into the inner-workings of the town by manipulating these peoples greed and fear. Hes working on a plan that none of them can understand, and its not until he orders the town painted red and renamed Hell that the townspeople fully grasp what they have invited into their homes. And by then its too late. Its that lack of morality that separates this from the rest of the Eastwood oeuvre and marks this one as horror. Theres no white hat coming to save the day. Theres no damsel in distress or cute kid to rescue. All these people are bastards, and they earn the fiery retribution that he wreaks. By the time Eastwood rides back into the haze, the viewer is left exhausted and dazed, like theyve just awoken from a nightmare. MOST HORROR MOMENT: Eastwood strides out of the shadows, wrapped in flame, looking every inch an Old Testament figure of vengeance. And hes PISSED.
Brendan Foley is a pop-culture omnivore which is a nice way of saying he has no taste. He has a passion for genre movies, TV shows, books and any and all media built around short people with hairy feet and magic rings. He has a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Writing, which is a very nice way of saying that he's broke. You can follow/talk to/yell at him on Twitter at @TheTrueBrendanF.