Tuesday, September 5, 2006

"From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter" (2000)

From Richard Scheib's The Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review:

This was the third of the films that began with the cinematically-released Quentin
Tarantino-Robert Rodriguez collaboration From Dusk Till Dawn (1996). The success of From Dusk was followed by two South African-shot released-to-video sequels, From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999) and this. The first two films disappointed - From Dusk felt like two quite different films stuck together, while Texas Blood Money conducted a more interesting variation on the central premise but was killed off by Scott Spiegel's pretentious direction. The surprise is that The Hangman's Daughter is actually the best of all three films.

All three films retain the same basic idea - a group of outlaws on the run who end up at The Titty Twister and are forced to survive up against vampires. The Hangman's Daughter's novelty is to take the story back and set it a century before the other two films as a Western. There is considerable ingenuity to this. One particularly clever touch is its winding in of actual history, adding as a major character Ambrose Bierce, the real-life writer best known for his biting cynicism.
Bierce wrote collections such as Tales of Soldiers and Civilians (1891) and The Devil's Dictionary (1903) and a good number of horror stories, most famously the original deathdream fantasy An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1891). It is a touch that cleverly resolves Bierce's mysteriously unexplained real-life disappearance South of the Border in 1914. [The subtitle of the film incidentally is borrowed from the title of one of Bierce's books, The Monk and the Hangman's Daughter (1892)].

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