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CURANDERO: DAWN OF THE DEMON
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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: Eduardo Rodriguez

Starring:
Carlos Gallardo
Gizeht Galatea
Gabriel Pingarron

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
Robert Rodriguez pens a script that brings us the tale of Carlos (Carlos Gallardo). Carlos was born to a father who was a "Curandero", a Latin American healer with the ability to see visions and cleanse a human soul. His father passed away, and Carlos lost all faith. Now, he's seeing terrifying visions of spirits and awful murders as he teams up with an Investigator (Gizeht Galatea)to help crack down on a satanic drug cartel.
Is it good movie?
A Rodriguez script that somehow got filmed and no one's seen it for almost a decade? Surprising, I know but Lionsgate has come through for the horror fan and brought this one to light. Sure, it has a bit of a lame sort of CSI premise (the reluctant faithless man with power is approached by an authority figure to stop a horrible crime), but the flick does show a bit of promise. The script is admittedly a bit weak though, as it suffers from some pacing problems and seems to over-explain certain aspects while leaving others unmentioned. For instance, there's some really obvious stuff given away once Carlos begins to see things- you'll know what I mean once you watch.

First off, I can unquestionably say that the movie sure doesn't feel like a Rodriguez flick. The movie itself looks pretty dull (though the camera work is just fine)and has a disappointing lack of vibrancy in terms of visual style. Sure, there's a fair amount of gore and things like that, but this is one of those movies drenched in over saturation and contrast.  This isn't a pretty movie- it looks too stylized and that hurts it because it just doesn't work. I also felt that the movie's ending was just too quick and sort of lame. Another real pet peeve of mine is the overused gimmick of quick cuts. Drives me nuts.

On the plus side, it's always great to see Carlos Gallardo on screen. You'll recognize him right away from other Robert Rodriguez flicks, and the guy turns in a good performance here. Also, I loved that the movie actually uses more practical effects than CGI, and even features some decent scares. It's always fun to creep into the world of "real" dark magic that seems so forbidden, even if it can be hokey.  Plus, there's a ton of action in the second half of the film, though it takes awhile to ramp up and tends to be interspersed with more quick cuts.

Ultimately, if you're looking for a somewhat silly, seedy bloodbath that feels a tad familiar but is totally passable, this will suit your fancy just fine. It's perfectly acceptable horror.
Video / Audio
Video comes in 1.85.1 widescreen, and looks alright, though the source material leaves much to be desired.

Audio comes in Dolby 5.1 surround, and you can listen in English or the original Spanish track with subtitles. PLEASE listen to this in Spanish. The dubbing is just awful.
The Extras
The only extra besides a Miramax/Lionsgate promo reel is a commentary track from Director Eduardo Rodriguez and Director of Photography Jaime Reynoso. This is actually worth listening to, since both of these guys serve up plenty of insight both technically and thematically.
Last Call
This one's an "almost pretty good" sort of flick that has a few too many minuses to really heartily recommend. Still though, there are some cool elements to it that make it entertaining enough to watch. As a purchase, I'd say for Rodriguez completists only.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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