October Horrorshow: From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money

Listen closely at night and you should be able to hear the sound of the flapping of leathery wings. It’s October, when vampires in Chiroptera guise search for blood. And why not? October is the month of Halloween, and Missile Test is celebrating by reviewing horror films all month. It doesn’t matter if a film is good, bad, or so awful it would be better if all copies were burnt. If there’s blood, it gets a fair hearing. Today’s movie is a real dog born from a recent classic.

During the first five minutes of From Dusk till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money, I thought I was watching a straight to video creature feature from the 1980s. Oh, horror, I thought. How could this movie, with its cheesy synthesized soundtrack, poor film stock, and wooden acting from the likes of Bruce Campbell and Tiffani-Amber Thiessen be a sequel to the raucous Rodriguez/Tarantino film? It made no sense. There was a pedigree involved here that was completely and inexplicably absent. But no fear, it was just a short introductory piece, designed to fool the viewer into thinking they were watching a bad film. I thanked the film gods when this little sequence ended and the real film began. As it turns out, what lay on the other side, while showing some promise early on, fell apart not long thereafter.

In fact, From Dusk till Dawn 2 was a straight to video release, a low budget moneymaker designed to cash in on a name, but director Scott Spiegel did manage to dress up the film like a proper sequel early on. There was a desert setting, a classic 1960s ride, a batch of steely-eyed criminals, and for a couple short and sweet moments, there was some decent surf guitar playing in the background. It just didn’t last.

The movie tells the story of five thieves, played by Robert Patrick, Duane Whitaker, Muse Watson, Brett Harrelson, and Raymond Cruz. This gang of nogoodniks decide to travel down across the border from Texas to Mexico to rob a bank stuffed with five million in cash. Unfortunately for them, they travel to the same part of the country that so terrorized George Clooney and crew from the first film. The Titty Twister bar, scene of the grisly happenings from the first film, makes a brief appearance. Everything seems to back to normal after the beating the place took. By brief appearance, though, I mean brief. It’s there and gone just quick enough for Whitaker’s character to make a phone call and have a little chit chat with Danny Trejo, reprising a character who was killed off in the first film. Wait a minute. Is this a prequel? No matter. These are merely props to remind the viewer once again of the source material this movie is drawing from.

It’s around this time that From Dusk till Dawn 2’s low budget begins to wield itself with deadly force. The movie has more in common with the cheesy misdirection of the introduction than it has with its predecessor. From here on out, there are two, count them, two, small, plain sets for the remainder of the film, and the viewer is forced to endure them with just as much dread as that which the characters must feel as they fight off vampire attacks. No joke, the set design was worthy of an Ed Wood picture.

There’s plenty of action to be had once the group makes its way to the shitty bank set from the shitty motel set, culminating in an explosive gun battle between the vampires and Mexican police, but all that stuff in the middle of the film, you know, character development, story, performance, anything at all that would be remotely interesting in a good movie, is too poorly done to carry this dog. Even the finale isn’t all that good, come to think of it, but at least it’s interesting.

In short, From Dusk till Dawn 2 is a sequel in name only, and fully deserving of its release into the nowhere land of straight-to-video horror. Alien: Resurrection is a ray of sunshine compared to this awful, awful movie.