by Corey Hall
Big Money Rustlas may be the year's best clown-related sci-fi, revenge thriller, hillbilly kung-fu western action comedy, featuring the epic showdown between low-down crime baron Big Baby Chips (Violent J) and the baddest gunslinger in the west, Sheriff Sugar Wolf (Shaggy 2 Dope). If the above sentence read like utter gibberish to you, than chances are you're not "down with the clowns," Detroit's original horror-clown-themed white rap empire, known as Insane Clown Posse or I.C.P., nor a part of their large, fanatically devoted cult known as "juggalos." It's been nearly 20 years since area rappers Joe Bruce and Joey Utsler slapped on black-and-white face paint and started splashing Faygo on stage like fools, yet media types like me still have to explain the group's appeal, like a mutant virus that's entered the cultural bloodstream but not been absorbed. That's probably because I.C.P's insanely huge fanbase is notoriously rowdy and clannish, and that the duo has its own weird lingo, and thick layer of confounding mythology that seems impenetrable from the outside.
In fact, Big Money Rustlas is a long-delayed prequel to 2000's Big Money Hustlas, which told roughly the same story but with a 1970s-styled urban crime exploitation backdrop. This time the boys are way back in the wild west, fighting over a dusty little tumbleweed trap known as "Mud Bug," where Big Baby and his thugs have been running roughshod on the populace. Back into town rides Sugar Wolf, a tough hombre with a lightning fast draw and a taste for the ladies that's second only to his thirst for justice. Turns out dirty bastard Chips has gunned down Wolf's brothers, and forced his poor defenseless mother into earning rent money as " Hand Job Hannah." So Sugar sets out to set things right, with help from a dimwitted deputy (Kevin Smith's pal Jason Mewes) and his new flame played by pint-sized porn star Bridget "The midget" Powers. She's not the only adult actor on board, since you can't have a flick like this without the legendary Hedgehog Ron the Jeremy, who leads an immense cast of showbiz lowlifes who pass through. Apparently the production used VH1 producers for the cameo casting, as Brigitte Neilsen, Jimmie Walker, Todd Bridges, Vanilla Ice, Dustin Diamond and others stroll through for face time as well as stars of ICP's record label Psychopathic. There's also a few wrestlin' legends sprinkled in, like Jimmy "Mouth of the South" Hart, not surprising since Violent J's bombastic, gravel-throated delivery sounds like a pre-match wrestling promo.
It's all a bunch of silly, high-energy nonsense; loud, stupid, crude and sporadically hilarious. The script borders on incoherence, like something someone's dumb little brother wrote, but also shows flashes of real wit and satiric punch. It's also packed with allusions to all the junk culture genres that ICP clearly loves, from spaghetti westerns, to WWF showmanship, '80s sci-fi, ninjas and cartoon slapstick. If you don't get all the inside jokes, or hoot when producer Mike E. Clark, or some ICP flunkies, pop up on screen, you just might learn to relax, realize that civilization isn't over yet, and just let the clown love do what it does.
Premieres at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, at the Fillmore, 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-961-5450. Paradime, Prozak, Blaze and ABK will perform live.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.