What I'm Watching: Dead in Tombstone
Happy Devil's Night, everyone! Do try and not start too many fires in honour of it, though.
Since it's Devil's Night, longtime readers know I am off watching my favourite movie, The Crow at some point today, but that also dovetails nicely into today's quickie review; Dead in Tombstone.
Now, why does it work well as a lead in? Well, let's see...
We have a man, who is murdered by men he considers family and friends, makes a literal deal with the devil, and crawls out of his grave to seek revenge and send their souls to the fiery pits instead of his. That sounds vaguely familiar.
The twist here, is that its set in the Old West, and they got Danny Trejo to play NotCrow. Or as he's actually called in this, Guerrero. When I heard the plot I was immediately intrigued by something being Crow-like, and with the added bonus of Trejo, Anthony Michael Hall, AND Mickey Rourke as the devil, it became a must see. I waited eagerly to finally see this movie.
And hey! It did not disappoint!
Now sure, it's no Crow. But then, like I said, favourite movie. What IS going to compare to that? But still, it has a very solid plot that has worked time and again in a number of movies, and they do it well enough, with a capable cast.
The biggest problem is that the members of Guerrero's gang that he's trying to kill are largely ciphers, whom you don't know anything about, and don't really care about. Now sure, they're murderous brigands and traitors, but still. That other movie I am trying not to mention painted very colourful characters that intrigued you and were distinct. They all kinda blur here, except for Guerrero's half brother played by Hall.
(And no, there is no way I buy Trejo and Hall as half-brothers. But hey, that's a minor point, and the acting from the pair is great.)
Rourke feels a little wasted here as the devil, but the character is little more than a plot device. But what he does do, he does well. I just wish there was more to the role than a deus ex machina, but without the deus.
Dina Meyer is another fave of mine, and was just more icing on the already intriguing cake, and sadly also ends up on the wrong side of things storywise, with Rourke. She ends up being too much of a damsel in distress, but she does have a few good moments here and there. It's really not her story, however. That's okay, though, and her presence is more than welcome. Again, just wish they could have done more with what they had.
Where this movie really shone for me though, was the cinematography. The lighting, the direction, the camera work, is all REALLY well done. There are so many amazing introductions, and use of backlighting, that the quality of the craft raises the bar for this movie, and puts it on a level it would not have reached in lesser hands. It is a western with a supernatural feel, and almost shot in a film noir style at times. The experience is quite unique, and was a joy to watch for that alone.
The crew may not have been the most developed bunch of characters, but their deaths really shine in the movie. There's some inventive use of effects, and creative use of storytelling. They truly died better than they lived.
While the movie ends up being flawed, and could have fleshed out some characters, and used others better, it's still a solid movie, very entertaining, and it's a good sign that my biggest complaint is that I just plain want to see more. And with the ending of the movie setting this up to easily become a franchise, I would very much relish the opportunity to see more of Guerrero and friends.