Monday, June 9, 2014

Movie Review: From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter

After how bad From Dusk Till Dawn 2 was, it appears that the production teams learned a few things.  From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter, is an enjoyable film.

 The film begins with this interesting factoid; In 1913, Ambrose Bierce, a famous journalist and war-hero from the late 1800's, went to Mexico to gain first-hand experience of the Mexican Revolution and was never see or heard from again.  The film catches up with Mr. Bierce in a small town in Mexico, where he is awaiting a stage coach to travel south.  At the same time, Johnny Madrid is about to be hung for his crimes.  At the last moment, a bullet from a wanna-be outlaw cuts the rope and Johnny escapes with the Hangman's Daughter, Esmeralda.  A posse is formed to track down Madrid, lead by the hangman, while Bierce, a pastor and the pastor's bride board the coach south.  The outlaws, the posse, and the wayward travelers all eventually find their way to run-down bordello in the middle of the desert, La Tetilla del Diable (The Devil's Nipple).

 From there, things go badly.  

American bad-ass.
 In my opinion, this film has far more depth than the original.  The characters, save possibly Bierce, are all more than they appear.  Bierce is just an old bad-ass, but mixes his contempt and disdain with practical wisdom.  He appears more as an observer of the events as they unfold.  The story is a commentary on fate, and whether it is worthier to embrace your fate or struggle against it.

One bad day after another for this guy.
 The production quality is on-par with the first film, as are the special effects.  The Hangman's Daughter does rely more on CGI, and while not seamless it is subtle enough not to be a distraction (other than the cobra... what's up with that?).  The only problem I found with the film is that the characters are not really that likable.  They are just interesting enough to carry you through the film, but not so much that you root for any one of them.

Better off as a vampire.
 From Dusk Till Dawn 3 is a worthy prequel to From Dusk Till Dawn.  The requisite effort was put into writing a good script, production quality, special effects, and quality players.  The film provides the origins of the vampire Satanico Pandemonium.  Unlike the sequel to From Dusk Till Dawn, The Hangman's Daughter is it's own film, with a different style than the original.  It is a good mix of Spaghetti Western, Mexican Soap Opera, and Vampire Horror film.   

Movie Review: From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money

 This movie was such a let-down after the first From Dusk Till Dawn.  The producers from the first film are back, as is Danny Trejo who briefly reprises his role from the first film.

 Wait, didn't Razor Eddie die in the first film?  No, that was Razor Charlie, but you wouldn't know that unless you looked the information up as neither are addressed by name in either film.

The film starts out as what appears to be a made-for-tv movie starring Bruce Campbell.  I was surprised to see Mr. Campbell in this film and was about to forgive the poor production quality when that scene ended-up being purely as a means to introduce the actual film.  The intro-scene was merely a film being watched by the protagonist of the actual film. 

 Unfortunately, the production quality did not greatly improve.  In order to describe the difference in production quality between the first From Dusk Till Dawn and this film, it is similar to the differences in quality between El Mariachi and its more famous sequel, Desperado.  Only, in the case of From Dusk Till Dawn, things became worse, not better.  

 The set-up for the story is simple; a bunch of criminals, lead by a recent jail escapee, are going into Mexico in order to rob a bank.  On the way, the ring-leader runs afoul of a couple of vampires on the road and is turned into a vampire himself.  The hero, a con half-heartedly trying to play it straight, must try to save himself and his friends before they are all turned while also robbing a bank and dealing with the Mexican Police and a couple of Texas Rangers.

Not nearly as tough as they look.
 It sounds cool, but it wasn't.

 In addition to the poor quality and weak screen-play, there are other problems.  In the first film, remember the discussion that was had about vampire anatomy?  How they had "soft bodies" that made it easy to stab a stake through their hearts?  In this film, a vampire bat hits the grill of a jeep and destroys the grill instead of being shredded on impact.  I guess the rules didn't move from one film to the next.

Razor Charlie's twin brother?
 Another inconsistency was the state of the Titty Twister Bar.  It seems that some of the neon from the original film was saved or reproduced, but the set was not nearly as grand.  The bar is shown mostly in darkness to hide the obvious use of a smaller, less expensive set.  The interior was also obviously smaller, and none of the dancers were nude. 

 Maybe they are under new management.  

The only girl to get nude in the film, so enjoy it.
 Most of the film is set either at a seedy motel or the bank.  There is an attempt in the script to include the same witty lines, but then few well-paid writers can write like Quentin Tarantino.  The Gecko Brother's escape to Mexico is mentioned in this film, making it a sequel, but that and the brief visit to the Titty Twister are really the only things that connect this film to the first.  The special effects aren't terrible, but they also could only afford to pay for the head-and-neck vampire make-up, much as they could only afford to have one women do a nude scene.  From Dusk Till Dawn 2 is not a worthy predecessor to the original.