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Vampire Horror Film

From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman´s Daughter

The third in the series takes us back in time and serves as a prequel set 100 years before the first film. The structure is more closely based on the original as the first half of the movie plays out like a western before the various characters reach the submerged pyramid and the vampire action kicks off.

We open in Mexico with an outlaw named Johnny Madrid about to be hanged. With the help of a female outlaw wannabe he manages to escape the noose and he rides off with the hangman's daughter Esmeralda. The hangman is less than pleased and raises a posse to track them down. Thrown into the mix are three Americans, writer Ambrose Bierce and a newlywed bible bashing couple named John and Mary.

As they ride off into the desert and night falls they all decide to hole up at a local bar, the same bar that features in the original. Even back then it's a booze soaked whorehouse and Quixtla the head vampire takes Esmeralda under her wing before revealing her dark secret. The final part of the movie is pure blood soaked mayhem as the various characters battle a legion of vamps in a desperate bid to survive the night.

The narrative structure is very much the same as the original movie with what appears to be a straight western for almost the first hour before the vampires begin to pop up and bite people. As a western it's all pretty familiar stuff, like a pastiche of scenes from countless other westerns. When the action gets going with the vamps it is much like the original but cheaper.

This was a straight to DVD release and consequently the special effects are limited and not very special. There are some awful bats on strings and rubber body suits for the vamps. While it has a similar feel to the second sequel in terms of quality this film seems to be taking itself more seriously and it felt less tongue in cheek.

The direction from Pesce is competent, some of the action is quite fun but there are no real scares and nothing in the way of tension. The screenplay has some interesting ideas in it and despite being a structural copy of the original it does feel fairly fresh, mainly because there are a lot of interesting characters at play. Ambrose Bierce was apparently a real character; a US writer who disappeared south of the border and wrote horror tales, he is the pick of the bunch in terms of casting as well as Michael Parks does a great job bringing his alcoholic cynicism and casual lack of fear to life. Marco Leonardi plays the main outlaw, Johnny Madrid and while he looks the part his performance is pretty forgettable. It was good to see Temuera Morrison as the hangman although his part was pretty uninspiring; still he did his best as an uncontrolled psycho. Ara Celi was fine as Esmeralda and Rebecca Gayheart convinced as the god bothering Mary. Naturally Danny Trejo popped up again as the bartender.

This is a fairly entertaining film; strangely it was made and released at almost the same time as the second movie and similarly to that effort this cannot compete with the original. However if you want a blast of entertainment this is far better than your average straight to DVD horror. Light on comedy compared with the previous two but a lot of fun nonetheless this is hardly a classic but it is a decent wee flick.

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