THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!
From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money
Directed by Scott Spiegel
"As long as expectations are kept low, it's hard not to enjoy the stupidness of Texas Blood Money."
There's something about the appeal to direct to disc sequels that remains unexplainable. The original film must have been either a box office or a sleeper cult hit that slowly gained an audience. However, with all principle cast and crew on to bigger and better things, studios often decide that the easiest way to make money without spending it is to take a known title and produce more with minimal effort. It's the laziest form of filmmaking, but you know, sometimes it works. They keep making 'em, and we keep watching 'em.
Take the From Dusk Till Dawn sequels for example (and if I had Robert Rodriguez's El Ray channel, I'd discuss the TV series, too). These flicks reek of cheapness, from the film quality, to the sets, to the actors, to the dialogue, to the gore. Everything feels as if they had 30 days or less to finish the thing, and nothing could prevent that deadline. If a shot looked off, keep it. If a line was flubbed, one more chance. No time to waste.
But how does Texas Blood Money stack up against the George Clooney/Harvey Keitel original? Well, not that well. We replace those cinema icons with Robert Patrick, which isn't necessarily a bad thing (he's the freakin T-1000 after all), but Patrick is a character actor, and character actors usually are best when not in the lead. With that said, Patrick (Buck in the film) does more than necessary here as a Texas theft who assembles a gang of misfits for one last score. He's good as usual, but he could have used some help from the rest of the cast.
The plot doesn't matter at all, because this movie is about vampires biting folks to make more vampires. Stupidly simple. Everything else ends up secondary. And that's perfectly fine because that's what we expect and want. As long as expectations are kept low, it's hard not to enjoy the stupidness of Texas Blood Money. Why not? However, as enjoyable as the movie is, let's not over do it. God no. In comparison, From Dusk Till Dawn 1 has great characters and a plot that makes sense. Texas Blood Money, on the other hand, has no character depth (like none at all) and the plot is just stupid. The only reason the vampires encounter the gang is because escaped convict Luther (co-writer Duane Whitaker) hits a bat with his Jeep and then happens to wander into the Titty Twister. Bartender Razor Eddie (Danny Trejo) is nice enough to give him a left until he discovers Luther shot the bat.
In a lot of ways, From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money plays like a Tarantino/Rodriguez/Raimi hybrid. Now the first two names are obvious enough seeing how they created the series (writing and directing the 1996 original), but the Sam Raimi influence comes from writer/director Scott Spiegel, a lifelong friend of Raimi who co-wrote Evil Dead 2 (Tarantino credits Spiegel for starting his film career after introducing him to producer Lawrence Bender. Just a little fyi).
It's these influences that make Texas Blood Money worth watching. Spiegel knows how to visually stretch a budget to make things interesting. For example, when Jesus (Raymond Cruz) does push ups, the camera lifts and lowers with him. Or when one of the gang taps into a safe, we spin with the dial. A little cheesy yes, but it gives the movie that little bit of extra flair to make things interesting...even when they aren't.