Last Rampage: The Escape of Gary Tison by James W. Clarke – Death on the Road

Cover of book by James W. ClarkeQuartzsite is not just the burial place of a historical figure, Hi Jolly lays at rest there with a favorite camel to keep him company in the “Hereafter,” it is also a spot where Snowbirds flock every winter to keep warm while the rest of the country shivers in the blustery cold. This small quiet burg also has a horrific dark side. In 1978 Gary Tison, escaped from an Arizona prison and his route of meandering escape, that ran over three states, took him right through Hi Jolly territory.

Living up to his reputation as being a cold-blooded killer, Tison’s trip through the quiet Arizona town was marked with murder. In James W. Clarke’s book “Last Rampage: The Escape of Gary Tison (Houghton Mifflin Company 1988) the second chapter of the book is devoted to the Lyon’s family murders. This wholesale slaughter took place just outside Quartzsite off I 95 on the Yuma side of town.

After Tison Sr. and Randy Greenawalt shotgunned the 24 year-old Marine Sergeant John Lyons, his wife Donnelda and their son Christopher to death, along with John’s niece Teresa Tyson, who died after the attack from her injuries, they took the family’s car and continued their wandering path to Mexico.

James W. Clark writes about the escape and his novel follows the journey and interactions of this small group of men. The author reveals that he and his young family were very near the fugitives as they fled authorities. In Colorado where Tison and his group murdered a honeymooning couple for their van, the writer and his wife spent a sleepless night. They were convinced that some unspeakable evil was watching their temporary campsite and only later did they learn that Gary Tison, Randy Greenawalt and Tison’s three sons were literally yards away.

Clarke does a good job documenting the flight of Tison and co. He lists all the various players and does a good job with backstory on each. He also remembers to pay attention to the victims of Tison and Greenawalt. At no time does the author forget to show the cost to surviving family members of the blood-soaked journey of the fugitives.

The book also looks at the power Tison had over his family and others who came into contact with him. A picture is drawn of a charismatic and manipulative man who appears to be pure evil. Tison’s end, dying of dehydration and exposure in the Arizona desert yards away from water, is one of poetic justice and not for the faint hearted. The man suffered an incredibly painful death and one that many would feel is still inadequate for the crimes he committed.

While telling Tison’s story, Clarke also reveals the corruption that was prevalent in 1970s Arizona penal system. He touches briefly the Don Bolles murder and the connection with Tison.  While the newsman’s death was the direct result of his investigating the mafia, the corruption pointed out by Clarke had to do with the correction system and its apparent policy of hiring inept individuals to run their prisons.

Consider this: The governor of the prison where Tison escaped was given multiple warnings that Tison was planning to illegally leave the institution and did nothing.  It is amazing that the Lyons’ and Judge’s families did not take the man to court as being an accessory to the murders committed by the fleeing criminals.

This is a chilling and disturbing account of one of the most horrific murders committed in the Southwestern desert. Prepare to be upset and frightened. In a short “review” of the book, I mentioned that reading this would reveal monsters scarier than anything made-up. Gary Tison, and his accomplice Randy Greenawalt, are terrifying.

James W. Clarke has written a book that should be read in the daylight while surrounded by others. Avoid reading at night, in the desert, alone. This true tale, despite the criminals being gone now, proves that truth is stranger than fiction and much more disturbing. Just as disturbing  perhaps as the made for TV film in 1983 starring Robert Mitchum and James Spader which purports to tell the story of Tison and his sons, Killer in the Family. A movie that one can be forgiven for missing considering the real facts of Tison and his bid for freedom.

The Homesman: Tommy Lee Jones in Another Offbeat Western (Review/Trailer)

The Homesman: Tommy Lee Jones in Another Offbeat Western (Review/Trailer)

The Homesman, written and directed by Hollywood A Lister Tommy Lee Jones, is another offbeat western by the man who brought the world The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, although that was a modern day western and his most recent offering is actually a period piece. Set back in the days of sod houses and farmers trying to survive the harsh Nebraska winter on the plains, the film is a western mainly due to its locale and time. Jones directs the feature and co-wrote the screenplay with Kieran Fitzgerald and Wesley A. Oliver based on the book written by The Shootist author Glendon Swarthout.

Movie Jail “Relay Race” & I’ve got the Baton. Oh Yeah!

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Apart from my regular self-tasking, I decided that I did not have nearly enough to do so I accepted the baton of the Movie Jail “Relay Race” from my good friend Tyson over at Head In A Vice. I’ve not done a “blog-a-thon” before so I leapt at the chance to participate in this one.

The Movie Jail Relay Race was started by Nostra from My Filmviews  and Terrence from The Focused Filmographer. Now I owe Nostra big-time as he did a brilliant spotlight on my blogsite and I’m eternally grateful to him because of it. Now the official rules are as follows:

”It’s time to put some movie people in jail. The object is to give a prosecutor’s argument as to why these movie people belong in “Movie Jail” whether it be for violating the integrity of the content source of one their films, or being a sell-out, just making bad movies overall, getting worse as time goes on or not being in a good movie for many years. The baton will be passed to another blogger who will have to do the following:

In order to free someone from Movie Jail they have to do 2 things

1 – Give a defense attorney argument defending the plaintiff

2 – Pay bail: the cost of which is another case for the court and a prosecutor’s argument against the actor/director of their choice that will replace the one set free.

There must always be 10 people in Movie Jail.”

Current Inmates are:

Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer

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Raja Gosnell

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Katherine Heigl

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Shia Labeouf

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Kristen Stewart

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Jennifer Lopez

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Damon Lindelof

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Rueben Fleischer

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Paul W.S. Anderson

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James Spader

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The Participants (so far):

1. My Filmviews / The Focused Filmographer

2. Cinematic Corner

3. And So It Begins…

4. Surrender to the Void

5. Cinematic Paradox

6. The Cinematic Spectacle

7. Being Norma Jean

8. Defiant Success

9. …let’s be splendid about this

10. Lime Reviews and Strawberry Confessions

11. Aziza’s Picks

12. Flixchatter

13. i luv cinema

14. Public Transportation Snob

15. The Warning Sign

16. 3 Guys 1 Movie

17. Cutting Edge Creativity

18. BLANK PAGE BEATDOWN

19. Morally Oblogatory

20. Knights of Mars Roundtable

21. Head In A Vice

 22. MikesFilmTalk

In accordance with the rules, I will defend Raja Gosnell whom I feel has been erroneously placed on the list of criminals and has been unjustly incarcerated.

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I ask you ladies and gentlemen of the jury; is it fair that the man who brought us Scooby Doo and Scooby Doo 2 should be jailed? Sure he brought out the lamentable Smurfs films, but I maintain that the two Scoobies more than adequately strike out that mark on his reputation. Add to this equation the fact that he also made Big Momma’s House and the superbly delightful Never Been Kissed and I think that his quality films outweigh his abysmal offerings.

Now that I’ve released Raja for his unfair and heinous imprisonment, I have to find a replacement. It is almost too easy, akin to shooting fish in a barrel. Without further ado, my replacement is –

Lindsay Lohan

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Now don’t get me wrong, I mean no real ill-will towards Lindsay. But after starting what appeared to be a brilliant career, she has blown it all on the pursuit of…What? Drugs, a drink addiction, sure those can be fun, if that’s all you want out of life. But this gal had talent. And while I’ll never quite forgive her for the abysmal I Know Who Killed Me I could have overlooked the obvious lack of judgement in this debacle if she’d only cleaned herself up and started trying to act again.

To be honest, I’m amazed that she isn’t on the list already. Therefore with extreme prejudice I am incarcerating her for not reaching her potential as a performer and really letting the side down as an entertainer.

Right! Now that I’ve done my portion of this “race” I’ll pass the Movie Jail “Relay Race” Baton on to Misty over at Cinema Schminena. And as Jackie Gleason used to say, “And away we go!”