The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Announcement

Announcement

Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.

--Matt

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

From Dusk Till Dawn II: Texas Blood Money (1999)

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Bruce Campbell is one of my favorite actors. From the Evil Deads to Brisco County all the way down to Jack of All Trades and his recent stint on that USA show Burn Notice, if Campbell's in it, I wanna see it. When I saw on my program guide that this film was on Sci-Fi, and Bruce Campbell was top billed, I was stoked. I decided to forego watching the edited version for renting the DVD on Netflix. Again, Campbell was top billed there too, so I figured he would play a prominent role, right?

From Dusk Till Dawn II: Texas Blood Money is really more about Mexican blood money. The guy from Pulp Fiction who brings Bruce Willis and Ving Rhames down to Zed is a bank robber on the run from the law. Sheriff Bo Hopkins (as if he plays anything else) goes to the guy's friend, Terminator II et al's Robert Patrick, to find out where he is. Patrick runs some subterfuge, then rounds up a gang of bad dudes and meets the Pulp Fiction guy down in Mexico. There, all but Patrick are infected with the vampire virus after Danny Trejo bites the first guy while he's waiting for the rest to show up. Anyway, Patrick, Hopkins, and a bunch of Federales take care of business.

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You'll notice Bruce Campbell's name doesn't show up in the plot synopsis. That's because he's only in it for like FIVE MINUTES!!!!! I was beyond pissed. Not at the movie, but at myself. I fell for the old Campbell bait-and-switch hook, line, and sinker. As a veteran bad movie watcher, I knew better than that. Just the same, it still hurt, and I was pretty disappointed. I watched some old Hercules episodes with him in them to make myself feel better.

As far as the rest of the film goes, it's your run-of-the-mill vampire movie. The problem with that is the film makers are intent on giving this to us as something more than the run-of-the-mill. They try all these cute camera angles and throw in these off-beat conversations that are more annoying than cute and more trite than off-beat. I say, if you're gonna make a vampire flick, just fuckin' do it, man. Forget mixing it with some indie-film noir kind of thing. Only the absolute best film makers could pull something like that off, and if you're making something Direct to Video, chances are you aren't that talented.

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I liked Robert Patrick in this. It would've been nice if he'd been able to act opposite Bruce Campbell, but that's neither here nor there. We usually see Patrick as this overly buttoned-up baddie, so it was cool to see him as a greasy bank robber living in a trailer park. One thing I did respect that the film makers did was have Patrick steal Sheriff Bo Hopkins' sunglasses, so he could put them on and remind us of his work in Terminator II.

Danny Trejo and Bo Hopkins shined in this as characters they play in almost every other movie. Bo Hopkins is still solid as the small town sheriff, the role he seems to have been born to play. Trejo was also great as the cut-throat Latino. It seems if Trejo plays a Native American, he's the benevolent friend to the hero who usually sacrifices himself to save him. If he plays a Latino, though, he's usually a bad guy. The Pulp Fiction guy didn't understand these rules, and he made the mistake of getting a ride with Trejo, and of course was bitten after Trejo turned into a vampire. These people never learn.

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I mentioned above the attempts by the film makers to give us something other than a run-of-the-mill vampire flick, and there was one filming device used by the director over and over that annoyed me more than anything else. I called it inanimate object cam. He had rotating fan cam, car radiator cam, bank safe padlock cam, telephone receiver cam... it was like he was totally fascinated with the idea of what inanimate objects see when they observe us. It was cool once, but every scene... it just got old quick. Does this director think people like Kurosawa or Bergman got to be who they were by their gimmicky camera angles?

This is really not worth renting. If you see it on Sci-Fi, and you've got nothing else going on, maybe give it a try, and that's a huge maybe. Otherwise, you're just wasting your time. I think the Blade movies were more entertaining vampire flicks, and that's not really saying much, is it?

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120860/

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