‘Dead in Tombstone’

Tom Doty Times Columnist

7 months 9 days 11 hours ago |1028 Views | | | Email | Print

A roaring rampage of revenge ensues when a dead bandit makes a deal with the devil in this horror/western mash up.

It all begins with a slam-bang sequence wherein the Black Water Gang rescues one of their members from a hanging. Red has already got the noose around his neck when his older brother, Hernandez , busts in with guns a-blazing. I feel it is only fair to warn viewers that this is one of those movies where people burst like overripe piñatas when they are shot, so it’s a miracle that the brothers escape with dry clothes.

Turns out Red wasn’t idle in jail and has formulated the gang’s next job. The town of Edendale has just struck gold, but there is a mineral rights dispute that has led to the the only bank being stocked with gold while the politicians argue over how to spend it. Red figures they can ride in and rob the bank. Hernandez decides it is worth a try but is distracted by dreams in which he meets a strange, cackling cowboy.

The job goes off relatively well, unless you’re rooting for the sheriff, and the men repair to a saloon to celebrate. Hernandez is spooked, since he spotted the cowpoke from his dreams and argues that they should split. Red states that they should take over the town and continue to mine the gold. The argument appears to be heading towards a stalemate until Red shows his true color is yellow by Pearl Harboring his brother with a bullet to the heart.

Hernandez wakes up in Hades, where Lucifer is only too happy to start torturing him. He reveals that he loves the wild west since it provides him with no end of dead sinners. Hernandez realizes that Satan was the guy from his dreams and offers his host a deal. All he needs is 24 hours and he can deliver the souls of his gang in exchange for his own. The Devil is amenable and sends him back to Edendale, which has been rechristened, “Tombstone.”

Before you know it, the town square is littered with coffins, as Hernandez proves to be a demon at the business of revenge killing. The sheriff’s widow, Calathea, turns out to be a helpful sidekick, but the deal is that Hernandez has to kill the men himself, so there is tension there. It all comes down to a duel between the brothers in the town square, but midnight is only a minute away and the terms of the wager are specific. If Hernandez can’t kill Red in 60 seconds, then he will join him in hell.

This is pure popcorn cinema. Every bite drips with gore instead of butter, but the effect is the same. This movie isn’t good for you. You will not get anything done while you watch it, but watch it you will, until the last ounce of lead has been dispersed. That’s because everyone is having fun here.

The fun starts with the images. There is an homage here to Spaghetti westerns and Clint Eastwood movies.

The film is cinema savvy and it is never more evident than in the casting. Danny Trejo may be pushing 70, but nobody can argue that he doesn’t come off tougher than a two-dollar steak. His Hernandez may mumble like Charles Bronson, but he can shoot like him, too.

Anthony Michael Hall is suitably nasty as Red, but props go the director for casting Mickey Rourke as Satan. Anyone who remembers him from “Angel Heart” will get the obvious joke. There, he played a guy who made a deal with devil, too, and it did not go well.

This should have played theaters, but getting a distributor for a western these days is trickier than getting a square deal from old Scratch.

Best line: “You’re going to have to kill me and conjugate your putrid fantasy with my corpse.”

2013, unrated.


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