Directed by P.J. Pesce
Starring Marco Leonardi, Michael Parks and Temuera ‘Jango Fett’ Morrison
1914, and Bandito Johnny Madrid (Leonardi) is saved from execution, and flees from the menacing Hangman (Morrison), taking the Hangman’s beautiful daughter Esmerelda (Ara Celi) with him. With the Hangman in pursuit, Madrid lets his saviour – wannabe outlaw, Reese (Jordana Spiro) – lead him to a supposed treasure on a coach occupied by a pair of newlywed God-botherers, and inebriate atheist war hero Ambrose Bierce (Parks).
What with one thing and another, this motley crew turn up at the La Tetilla del Diablo, a seedy whorehouse in the desert. Night falls and the vampires – including barman Razor Charlie ( Danny Trejo) – come out to play. Esmerelda is revealed to be the daughter of a vampire, and their prophesied messiah: Santanico Pandemonium. With all hell breaking loose, it is up to the Bierce to pull the disparate survivors together, in the by-now-familiar struggle to last until dawn.
What’s wrong with it?
The effects in this third foray are as cheap and cheerful as those in the second film. The genre-switch device is by now a little worn, and once the set-up has been made, the hunt through the lower levels of La Tetilla del Diablo is fairly by the numbers. The appearance of real person Ambrose Bierce (best known as the writer of The Devil’s Dictionary) is also pretty weird.
What’s right with it?
This film recognises its budget limitations, and makes the best of its cheap effects, largely by not showing too much of the plastic bats. The genre switch may be old hat, but it’s handled better than in the first one, and the western section is possibly the strongest opener of the three films. The players are mostly competent and very definitely along for the ride, with a welcome return for the world’s largest living Mexican (Trejo). There are a number of genuinely funny moments, and even a spirited attempt to inject a plot twist into the wacky vampire high jinks.
How bad is it really?
Much better than Texas Blood Money, and almost as good as the real thing. Like the original From Dusk Till Dawn, The Hangman’s Daughter (named after Bierce’s ‘The Monk and the Hangman’s Daughter’) is good clean fun for all the family; or at least all of them who are over eighteen, and/or not of a nervous disposition, and who don’t mind their movies being very bloody indeed.
The film has some good scenes and one liners, like the blind guard shooting by ear, and Ambrose Bierce baiting the Christians (‘No madam; when Gabriel blows his trumpet, I shall be playing the tuba’). The best is a toss up between the fired-up missionary asking Razor Charlie if he can start a fight, and Charlie handing him a cudgel, or the revelation of Reese’s murderous past.
Hangman: You killed your parents?
Reese: They were poor; starving. I sent them to a better place.
Hangman: What about your aunt, uncle and cousins?
Reese: Oh. I never liked them.
There’s also a nice visual queue to the original, where the camera pulls back on the full scale of the Ziggurat, with coaches and wagons instead of trucks and coaches dumped around the base.
What’s up with…?
- Once more, where does the clientele come from? There’s no road past La Tetilla del Diablo, yet travellers of all stripes just happen by.
- Ambrose Bierce being in this movie?
Production values – Low budget, but well used. This film shows it’s immediate predecessor what you can do on a limited budget. 10
Dialogue and performances – Such a vast improvement on Texas Blood Money that – having watched them pretty much on consecutive nights – they seem almost Oscar-worthy. The dialogue is also peppier, with plenty of nice one liners and routines. Not Shakespeare, but not See You Next Wednesday either.10
Plot and execution – The western plot is actually fairly involved, and carries through somewhat into the second half. The twist is not completely twisty, but is gamely done, and nicely reacted. 8
Randomness – Once more, with the exception of the big Ambrose Bierce weirdness, the film sticks firmly to its rather bizarre guns. 9
Waste of potential – For a second sequel to a better-than-average schlock vampire flick, this was Hamlet. On ice! 4