Dead in Tombstone

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film begins with a monologue on the West, or the “New Frontier”, as Lucifer describes it as a “heartless, lawless viper pit”, contrary to popular belief that it is made up of “god-fearing” good folk. Lucifer goes on to justify why the West is an “American nightmare”. The film pans to an execution. Big-time crook Red Cavanaugh is seconds from being given the noose, but he is saved from death by the six members of his gang, the Blackwater Gang, led by the notorious outlaw Guerrero De La Cruz. The gang members, each of whom has a hefty cash bounty, massacres the lawmen and rescue Red. Following this feat, Red proposes that they raid Edendale, a small Colorado mining town known for its gold mine. A mineral rights dispute has led the sheriff to place the disputed riches in the bank, which Red states they can easily rob.

Although the bank robbery goes smoothly, the sheriff’s men engage in a gunfight with the Blackwater Gang. The criminals emerge victorious, and Red kills Sheriff Bob Massey, going against De La Cruz’s order to avoid unnecessary deaths. Anxious, De La Cruz demands that they leave Edendale, but Red double-crosses him; after he shoots De La Cruz, Red explains that he plans to take over Edendale and its mine, to which he holds the deed. A dying De La Cruz urges the rest of the gang to shoot the traitor, but Red offers to share his power and riches with them. The rest of the gang turns on De La Cruz and shoot him. With his dying breath, the ousted leader promises to meet them again in Hell. The next day after lowering De La Cruz’s coffin, Red changes the town’s name to Tombstone.

Condemned for eternity, De La Cruz ends up in Hell, where Lucifer tortures him. De La Cruz offers a bargain: in return for his freedom, he will, within 24 hours, deliver the rest of the gang: Red, Baptiste, Ramos, Washington, Snake, and Darko. Tombstone has degenerated into a lawless area, where Red and his gang indulge themselves. At exactly midnight, De La Cruz rises from his grave and avenges his own death by killing Baptiste and Ramos. Red promises to kill the perpetrator, not knowing or caring who he is. They find De La Cruz waiting for them at the saloon. Shocked at his half-brother’s resurrection, Red attempts to kill him again. A heated shootout ensues; Darko dies, De La Cruz survives, and Red flees. When Calathea Massey, the sheriff’s widow, confronts Red, De La Cruz stops her before she can kill Red, as De La Cruz’s bargain requires him to personally kill the gang members.

De La Cruz is tipped off on Red’s current hideout place, and, with Calathea’s help, he assaults the gold mine. There, he learns that Red and corrupt businessman Judah Clark struck a bargain, which is why Red has been able to stay in power for so long. Clark and Red leave the mine; De La Cruz and Calathea fight through Red’s and Clark’s henchmen, killing another gang member. With time running out, De La Cruz returns to town but is killed before he can confront Red. Amused, Lucifer resurrects De La Cruz once again and warns him that he has only one hour left. A riot breaks out in Tombstone; when Clark attempts to distance himself from Red, Red kills Clark, takes Calathea hostage, and attempts to leave town. Red and De La Cruz engage in a showdown, but Lucifer causes all the bullets to miss; furious, De La Cruz engages Red in hand-to-hand combat and kills him. With the entire gang dead, De La Cruz says his debt is paid, but Lucifer states that De La Cruz was two minutes late; in order to fulfill his debt, he must forever be Lucifer’s bounty hunter

REVIEW:

Dead in Tombstone is one of those films that I was seeing trailers for on every DVD, but never knew when it was released. When I finally checked, it was still not released. What was the holdup? Who knows? What I do know, though, is that this film reminds the audience how bad ass (and short) Danny Trejo is when he isn’t Machete.

What is this about?

A gang overruns a small mining town murdering their own leader Guerrero (Trejo) in a cold-blooded power grab. Sentenced to eternity in hell he finds himself confronted by Satan himself (Rourke), offering a daring proposition: deliver the six souls of his former gang and he will escape damnation. With time running out, he sets out on a brutal rampage to avenge his own death.

What did I like?

Violent west. With all the westerns I’ve seen during my day, I never stopped to realized how sanitized they actually were. In the opening scenes of this film, the narrator makes a point to tell the audience that west was a dirty and violent place. To back that up, the film is full of bloody murders, backstabbing thieves, etc. So much for the fantasy, right?

Devil’s torture. The devil is perhaps the most popular antagonist. With each iteration, there are different takes, powers, weaknesses, etc. This one, played by Mickey Rourke (who seems to have has more plastic surgery on his face and gained a few lbs since I last saw him in Immortals), isn’t inherently menacing upon first glance. As a matter of fact, he just seems like a blacksmith of some sorts. Then Danny Trejo’s character is killed and all those torture stories we hear in church, fingernails getting ripped out, skin being torn off, etc., come true. It is painful to watch, making Rourke’s take perhaps one of the best seen on screen in some time.

Vengeance is a dish best served cold. Gunned down by your own (half) brother who then convinces your gang to join him in his mutiny is enough to send any man on a quest for vengeance. Trejo’s quest leaves a trail of blood and bodies in pine boxes on display at the church. The way he takes out these men is something to behold and you can’t wait to see him execute his next act of revenge.

What didn’t I like?

Cutaways. Whoever is behind the editing in this film needs to have their head examined. There are scenes, mostly involving Rourke’s devil, where the camera cuts here, there, and everywhere in a span of 5 seconds. I get the attempted effect, but as a basic moviegoers it was a bit of a headache to watch over and over again. Perhaps it would have been better had they slowed it down a bit, but as is was just an unnecessary headache.

More of the same. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Danny Trejo. Here is a guy that was in prison, got out and became an actor late in life (I think he started when he was 45). He has appeared in all types of films, including one of my favorite guilty pleasures, Machete. However, with all that said, I can’t help but notice that he seems to play the same character in every film, except for Spy Kids. This could just be typecasting or his lack of acting talent, but it would be nice to see him do something else with a character and not just be the pissed off tough guy (usually Mexican) out for revenge or hired to do a hit.

Random chica. Nothing against Dina Meyer, but there was really no reason for her to be in this film. She served no purpose to the plot, wasn’t really a love interest/distraction, and the whole thing with her husband being killed in cold blood by Anthony Michael Hall’s character was just thrown in there to tie everything together. If they wanted a female in this film, then they should have given her something to do that would have made her relevant, but that was not the case, as we can see.

How can I sum up Dead in Tombstone? Well, think of it as if the Caretaker from Ghost Rider was given a proper origin film. I think it would be something close to this. Strangely enough, there is a scene where Danny Trejo walks in a church from out in the rain and the visual they present him in is very reminiscent of WWE’s Undertaker. Anyway, some review I heard or read said that this was a boring picture, but I found it to be anything but! Sure, it slow down a bit, but it picks right back up again. For a direct-to-DVD film, this was actually better than some of the stuff that has been released in theaters. I highly recommend you give this a go. Sometimes you find a diamond in the rough.

4 out of 5 stars

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One Response to “Dead in Tombstone”

  1. Mystery Man Says:

    Reblogged this on Mr Movie Fiend's Movie Blog.

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