Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Review: From Dusk Till Dawn 2 (#CrapSequels)

World of Blackout: CRAP SEQUEL SEASON!

flms. srs bsns. We've all been there; Browsing in Blockbuster, the HMV sale or the bargain-DVD section in Sainsbury's, and we come across a plastic case which gives us an involuntary tingle of excitement. Someone's made a sequel to that movie we like! How did this slip under our radar? Why wasn't this on at our local cinema? Why are we only hearing about this now? Well, there's only one way to answer that question; it involves spending the requisite £3 and usually ends with the question 'Why did this get made, never mind how?'.

The rules for selection are as follows: 1) The film needs to be a poorly received sequel to a generally successful film (so no crap sequels to crap originals, and no crap remakes of originals), 2) Films from longer series are fine, but the choice needs to be part two of that line, 3) I'm not intending to watch any of the associated part-ones as part of this run (whether I'm familiar with them or not), so there'll be extra pressure on the crap sequel to work on its own terms. So join me as I delve into some of the crappest, most unwarranted follow-ups of all time (hopefully with a couple of underrated, misunderstood gems thrown in).

How bad can it be, right? I mean, the original was good…

CRAP SEQUELS! From Dusk Till Dawn: Texas Blood Money.

#CrapSequels: From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money
Cert: 18 / 84 mins / Dir. Scott Spiegel
Year: 1999 (3 years after the first movie)

The general feeling: RT Score: 9% / IMDB Score: 4.0

This film was released in the same year as The Matrix. Think about that for a second. This straight-to-video prequel to From Dusk Till Dawn takes all the aspects which made the original movie a cult 90s classic (Tarantino's burgeoning popularity, Rodriguez's grindhouse film-making, a scorching rock/blues soundtrack, George Clooney when he was still a breakout star, Salma Hayek before she started doing Adam Sandler films, Harvey Keitel before he started doing insurance adverts) and uses precisely none of them to attempt to repeat the success.

The film opens like the turgid low-budget thriller it is, with an utterly needless elevator-scene in which Bruce Campbell (yes, that Bruce Campbell) is shown desperately praying that his 90-second cameo appearance will look better on his bank statement than it will on his CV. I suspect neither end of the bargain ended up as hoped. What follows in an unrelated heist movie which tries its damnedest to undo the work of its predecessor, in the fashion of a sequel-screenplay written by someone who's only heard about the original movie. Whereas most filmmakers use a handheld camera to give a sense of immersion and immediacy to the proceedings; here it looks like the production couldn't afford a dolly or a tripod.

Texas Blood Money has the air of a film made as an end-of-year college project with an array of obscure camera-shots and first person viewpoints; except it's one where the director has managed to persuade pawn shop guy from Pulp Fiction to take a starring role, and then pumped a load of surf-rock music into the first act to try and ride the wave of kitsch goodwill. But it's not only QT's masterwork which is mined for homages, with The Lost Boys, Psycho and apparently Lock Stock also falling within writer/director Scott Spiegel's creative radar.

And just to be clear, any non-comedy vampire film which puns upon the phrase "a quick bite" should, by law, see its perpetrating writer(s), cast and crew locked in a pen and attacked by a pack of rabid honey badgers.

Struggling with its connections to its cinematic forebear, the vampires in Texas Blood Money are inherently terrified of crucifixes (or apparently any two lines crossing at an approximate 90° angle), despite the original film going to great lengths to explain that it's not the crosses themselves, but the faithful who wield them which are the threat. Elsewhere we get a nod to the death of Michael Parks' Earl McGraw from FDTD, in the shape of his son James Parks playing Deputy McGraw and making the whole thing seem a lot more tawdry than it should do (although they mention Earl's killing, yet Danny Trejo's moody barman, Razor Eddie appears in this film, making it a prequel by what, ...hours?).

But when all else fails (and it does), it's good to know that the vampire bats in the FDTD universe can transform back into their human forms and be wearing their clothes, including their 1990s carpet-jackets. It also serves to remind me that I really must get round to playing the FPS adaptation which I bought on a whim back in the day and has acted as a shelfwarmer ever since (although I'm still too wary to go near the TV series).

…because this can't possibly be any worse than a straight-to-video sequel

Best line? Raymond Cruz's Jesus, watching a soft-porn flick on a cable channel in a grimy motel looks almost directly to camera and says "…this movie's very low quality.", with little-to-nothing in the way of self-awareness or irony.

Feeling far longer than its 84 minutes ever should, From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money is a wretched turd of a film; an insult to the piece that inspired it and to all that could have been. If the #CrapSequels season needed a standard-bearer, this film would be the one.

Have you seen this before??
I have. It was one of the worst nights of my life, exacerbated by some cans out out-of-date Budweiser.
And I watched it again. For you

…but have you seen the original movie?
I have, and it's on-par with Pulp Fiction as being one of my all-time favourite films, ever.

Do I have to have seen the original movie?
Well, Texas Blood Money makes absolutely no attempt to explain what the fuck's going on, so probably, yeah.

How many of the original film's stars returned?
Just the one: Danny Trejo (albeit reduced to a first-act appearance), who would go to the opening of a fridge as long as you told him his face would be on the poster.

Worth expanding into threequel territory?
No it's not, but they did it anyway.

Rent it, stream it, or wait for it to be on TV?
Never watch this.

Ah, but is there a Wilhelm Scream?
I didn't hear one, but there are two (TWO) boot-shots.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

And my question for YOU is…
How come when "C.W." has been vampirised, he has the traditional bite-marks on his neck, but when he was attacked he had his head stuck through the iron bars of a security-gate, meaning that was the only part of his body NOT instantly accessible to his assailant? More to the point, why the living fuck is that even on my mind after watching this film?

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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