Four years ago historians of bad behavior got a rare glimpse into Denver street life and drug culture of the 1950s-1990s with the posthumous publication of Vato Maldito: My Life of Crime, by John "Bubbles" Gallegos, a local heister and heroin fiend. Now underground filmmaker and provocateur Raoul Vehill, who also happens to be Gallegos's nephew, has taken that text as the inspiration -- if that's the right word -- for what has all the earmarks of being a bold and seedy indie film, Low Down Dog, which screens at the Oriental Theater tonight. See also: - Two ex-cons' choices: Go straight or go straight to hell - Joe Arridy was the happiest man on death row - Will juvenile lifers get a second chance?
Gallegos died in 2006 at the age of 66, a week after his last release from prison. Reviewing Vato Maldito back in 2009, I described it as "a slim, unadorned account of tough-guy Gallegos careening from the streets to prison and back again, battling addiction and treacherous stick-up partners, jailhouse snitches and his own demons....an unblinking, unapologetic account of robberies and marriages gone bad, conning parole officers and hustling for scores, desperate scams and desperate people."
Vehill conceived Low Down Dog in that same desperate spirit, although the plot line has clearly been fictionalized a bit. It's a road movie, with your typical untypical couple, thrown together by circumstance, summarized as follows: "A pregnant teen Christian helps a fugitive killer junkie run to Mexico." A more detailed plot synopsis can be found on the Oriental site, but beware of spoilers.
Judging from the trailer below, money was no object. Check it out, and maybe you'll find yourself at the Oriental checking out Vehill's vision of his uncle's transmogrification.
Low Down Dog premieres with Planet Diva at 8 p.m. Wednesday, August 7, at the Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue. Admission is $7; for more information, call 720-420-0030.
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