From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter

Certificate: 18
Running Time: 94 minutes
Director: P.J. Pesce
Starring: Marco Leonardi, Michael Parks, Temuera Morrison, Ara Celi
Genre: Horror, Western
Country: USA

After the cinematic atrocity that was From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money nobody could blame you if you were a little gun-shy and opted to stay clear of the third instalment in the vamp trilogy but I’m here to tell you it’s ok…the course is clear, Spiegel has left the building handing over directorial duties to P.J. Pesce who studied under Martin Scorsese and has unimpressively cut his teeth on home entertainment bound sequels though, in recent years, done some impressive work on televisions Leverage and Fringe.  Pesce’s Hangman’s Daughter links us back to the original film, back to Mexico, back to the Titty Twister and most importantly back to the loving arms of Miss Satanico Pandemonium (or at the very least her origins).

The late nineties was when we all went a little prequel crazy, thanks to George Lucas’ woeful Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, so FDTD3 going back to basics is less than surprising but it’s how the director handles it which is not only interesting but refreshing.  Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn was somewhat genre defying; establishing itself as a crime movie before turning that tight corner into horror and though it’s impossible for this film to recapture that level of wow the new western feel to the film gives it something fresh and interesting making it worthwhile and dare I say…entertaining.

Pesce’s camera usage is strong, well thought out and (considering the budget) impressively economical as it feels like a bigger movie in many places.  His use of lighting is also impressive and the film is peppered with plenty of mood that not only makes From Dusk Till Dawn 3 dramatic but also a tad melodrama.  I don’t mean that in a bad way, I mean that in a Mexican soap opera way (ie. the best possible way).  Marco Leonardi is a strong lead; he’s been given the job of being John Wayne surrounded by fangs instead of “injins” and performs admirably in a film that’s got a lot to do to make up for the terrible memory of Texas Blood Money.  Michael Parks (returning to the franchise) is a great piece of casting and an actor that I desperately wish Rodriguez/Tarantino would give more to do in their movies.  He pops up in From Dusk Till Dawn and Kill Bill: Vol 2 steals the scenes and disappears again but he’s amazing.  He’s James Coburn in A Fistful of Dynamite and a gem on screen.  Similarly it’s good to see Danny Trejo return as Charlie if a little unnecessary.  Temuera Morrison is excellent as the hangman and Ara Celi (Esmeralda) is wonderfully bitter sweet in her performance, more so when you know what she is due to become but the film is not without it’s problems.

I’ve never been a fan of Rebecca Gayheart (as an actress).  I’ve always found her self aware and it makes her difficult on screen but the major problem is with the script.  Though it tells the prequel story rather well and is solid enough in most parts there are large portions of repetitive narrative that echo the first film making it feel somewhat derivative.  It’s a real shame because it stops the film from growing in it’s own respect but when you consider how neglected the franchise felt after From Dusk Till Dawn 2 it’s amazing that The Hangman’s Daughter is as good as it actually is, even if it does tread on it’s own toes at times.


Horror Movie Medication said...

Nice review. Quite thorough. Personally, I love the first movie of this series, but can't say the same for the next two. The last two just have weird plots and lots of bad acting. I think that only the genius of Quentin Tarantino could pull together the strange premise of these movies and make it work.

I got the chance to review of couple others in this series on my blog. They are short reviews but cover most the series. Check it out if you get the chance.

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