when it comes to sequel titles, everyone has their favorites. usually from bad movie sequels. the most popular one among us is “this time it’s personal.” i am partial to “the quickening,” “2 ____ 2 ____,” “____ reloaded,” or “____ ____ 2: ____ ____-er.” i’ve also tried to introduce “texas blood money” into the sequel lexicon. although my current favorite is house: the second story. it just works on so many um…levels. oliver stone could have used texas blood money for his movie w. in fact, he probably could have mash-uped two of his movies and call it W.all street 2: texas: blood money never sleeps. there is, however, an actual movie called from dusk till dawn 2: texas blood money.
as with the case with the crow, i haven’t seen from dusk till dawn 1 since the 90s. it’s texas blood money is another sequel from miramax/dimension. unlike the crow 2: city of angels though, from dusk till dawn 2: texas blood money went direct to video, and it’s surprisingly decent.
in what we now know as the precursor to grindhouse, from dusk till dawn 1 is a mashup of a crime movie and a zombie/vampire movie. kind of like a shorter and more succinct grindhouse in reverse order. in fact, from dusk till dawn 1 feels more grindhouse-ish than grindhouse: the movies as it is less polished and made on a lower budget. most people i know seem to be mixed on part 1. but that was before we get movies like four rooms, desperado, the faculty, once upon a time in mexico, and planet terror/death proof. it’s actually pretty damn good in retrospect.
despite the marketing and ill-informed websites, bruce campbell and
kelly kapowski tiffani (amber) thiessen only have cameo roles in the movie, during the i.o.a.s. (inconsequential opening actin sequence). they die within 5-10 minutes of the movie. i am not sure why they are in the movie at all except for being able to use their names in the credits. kind of like drew barrymore in the scream 1 opening. although i do love the way this sequence segue into the actual beginning of texas blood money even though i’ve seen it before. it’s pretty clever and fun. kind of make you expect good things, which is what all i.o.a.s.es are supposed to do.
another false advertising is the title. it doesn’t really takes place in texas. it begins there but the characters leave and go across the border for the meat of the movie. like bruce campbell and kelly from saved by the bell, texas is also wrongfully credited.
duane whitaker, who co-wrote the film with the film’s director scott spiegel breaks out of prison and contacts buck, played by robert (die hard 2, t-1000, the faculty) patrick, to put the old gang back together for a bank heist just south of the border. there’s a sheriff going after whitaker, played by bo hopkins. patrick is supposed to round up the gang, head to mexico and wait for whitaker at a motel. though on the way, whitaker had to make some detours after running into a bat and a stop at the titty twister bar, the same one from the first movie. though cheech marin doesn’t show up, we get machete himself danny trejo as the bartender.
in addition to the great opening sequence, the first half hour or so is also quite enjoyable. a lot of people would be disappointed with the lack of bruce campbell but robert patrick more than make up for the lack of ash. it’s nice to see patrick in a more or less more down to earth, realistic role than simply parodying his t-1000 or a simplistic villain role (though they do make a reference to t-1000 but at just the right amount). the first act goes through the getting the old gang back together for a heist that we’ve seen plenty of times before but it manages to make it entertaining, with a refreshing southwest atmosphere even though the film was filmed in africa.
tarantino and robert rodriguez are only credited as the producers this time around, but their influences are still in evidence (and some hitchcock in there too). there’s a pretty long profile shot of robert patrick on his way to recruit raymond cruz except not as masterfully done as in the opening of jackie brown. there are a lot, so say too many, of “creative” camera placement from the pov of inanimate objects. at first i thought it was a tarantino/rodriguez influence but after a dozen times or so, it finally dawns on me that it may have more to do with sam raimi or the coen brothers. it’s no surprise since the coen brothers worked with raimi and texas blood money director spiegel co-wrote evil dead ii and appears in raimi’s the quick and the dead and spider-man 2. that may also explains the bruce campbell cameo.
the dialogues are not as obviously tarantino-esque as the first one. but it kind of works to make these characters more realistic as opposed to the more filmic larger than life fictional criminals. there is a scene where the characters are stuck in a motel room and watching porn and there’s the pop culture commentary but that’s the only bit of dialogues that reminds of tarantino. there’s a pretty great bit in the above mentioned patrick/cruz scene where we learn the name of cruz’s dog. patrick asks “is this jaws?” and cruz answers “no, jaws is dead. this is jaws 2.”
the screenplay is actually pretty smart. unlike most sequels, it retains just the surface elements of the original but develop new materials of its own. the vampires in texas blood money seem more complicated than the ones in the original. this time the vampires are able to transform between bats and vampires at will.
it also doesn’t have the split personality of the first movie, the crime and horror elements works more smoothly and feels more organic than the first film. though admirable, it does raise some questions that the film does not have an answer for.
at first i thought with the presence of vampires they may not go with the heist stuff but shows us the heist planning nevertheless, like ocean’s twelve or fast five. but no, even after some of the old gang become vampires, they still go ahead with the bank heist. they make kind of a reference to this at the end but that is neither funny nor clever. it still doesn’t solve the mystery of why these bats/vampires need money. if they can turn into bats at will then they certainly have ways to get cash any time they want.
the energy drops a bit in the last half hour when it turns into kind of a horror/action version of assault on precinct 13. there are way too many extras and scenes of people getting hit and shooting and dying for no particular purpose except to make the movie to around 90 minutes in length. but as far as dtv movies and especially dtv sequels to theatrical movies, the somewhat monotonous climax doesn’t prevent it from being a notch above its peers. if you’ve seen all tarantino and rodriguez movies and looking for something to watch, you could do a lot worse than texas blood money.
from dusk till dawn 1 – 3 is currently available on dvd and netflix instant.