Directed by Roel Reine
A gang leader double crossed by the members of his own gang gets one chance at revenge after making a deal with Lucifer (Mickey Rourke) to send all six of the gang that killed him to Hell in his place.
Danny Trejo stars as the betrayed Blackwater leader Guerrero De La Cruz. I think he could have made a real career out of being a Western tough guy if he had been born a few years earlier. He is just generally intimidating on screen no matter what he does and dressing him all in black just ups that vibe. This contrasts with real life where he seems to be a pretty happy guy because he is absolutely amazed by the life he has. They say the best baddies are the genuinely nice. But I digress. His screen persona, the vibe he gives off, is perfect for a western and I really wish he did more of them, but the Western genre just is not as big as it once was. He is just so threatening and intimidating as an antihero here. He brings a sense of menace and toughness to his character along with a controlled rage.
Mickey Rourke is great as the Devil. He is very good as the scheming Prince of Darkness. His performance is not campy or ridiculous. You could even call the character charming. The charm of a snake anyway and that is what a good Satan needs. You need to see yourself kind of liking the guy in these bargain scenarios.
I found casting Anthony Michael Hall as Guerrero’s half-brother Red “Rojo” Cavanaugh a bit much. I know they are only half-brothers, but they do not even look like they are half. I think they should have gone a different route with him even though he is a good actor. Maybe have Hall just dye his hair black. He was a good villain, but I felt they jumped through too many hoops to explain how the two were related. It reminded of the scene in Spaceballs between Dark Helmet and Lone Star.
The story is better than I expected from a low budget Western with some solid direction. It is not great but Roel Reine is not just winging it here. But most importantly the movie looks good. The shots are tight and occasionally the environment looks sparse but overall, it does not look cheap. The environment looks authentic and believable even though the movie was filmed in Romania. Really! Westerns in Romania?
Connecting the Dina Meyer character of Cal to the town sheriff as his widow seemed unnecessary. It never really felt like she was motivated to avenge her husband. Her level of anger at the Blackwater gun was the same as the rest of the town. I think you could have gotten the same thing from the character if she were just one of the townsfolk and was just trying to free the town.
The “taking-over-a-town” plot has been done before, but this gives it a bit of a fresh spin by tossing in the supernatural. The supernatural though is often muted in the film with appearances by or the ominous voice of Lucifer serving as a reminder to the viewer. It needed a persistent supernatural element in my opinion though I am at a loss for what.
Dead in Tombstone is a good supernatural Western. It is not great, but it is good. The story is entertaining, and the leads manage to pull it all off well enough. Pop it in and relax.