There’s always a reason that a movie goes direct-to-video. Sometimes it’s because they couldn’t find a distributer and other times it’s because it’s bogged down in legal issues or production problems. And sometimes it’s simply because the movie isn’t good enough for a theatrical release. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some good direct-to-video flicks out there. But there are a lot of rather forgettable ones too. Nothing more disappointing than a good trailer getting you all excited, only to be ultimately let down in the end. Such is the case with Dead in Tombstone (2013).
Now, Danny Trejo is one of the busiest actors around. He currently has 16 movies either completed or in post-production with another two currently filming and six more in pre-production. He has 286 films to his credit. However, only one came out in a theater this (Muppets Most Wanted) and his biggest last year was Machete Kills, which generally got poor reviews. He’s making a good living off of his on-screen character and there’s no denying that it is really all thanks to his grizzled features and bad-ass one-liners.
So, going into Dead in Tombstone, I knew exactly what I was getting. It’s the old west and Trejo stars as Guerrero De La Cruz (despite being listed as Guerrero Hernandez on the back cover of the DVD), leader of the outlaw Blackwater Gang. Our movie opens up with the gang breaking his brother Red Cavanaugh (Anthony Michael Hall, The Dark Knight) out of prison moments before he is to be hanged. We learn that they share a mother and that Guerrero may have been responsible for Red’s incarceration. Red forgives his brother and talks the gang into raiding Edendale, a small Colorado town full of gold. Once there, Red turns on his brother. He has worked out a deal to mine the gold and share the profits with an unscrupulous British businessman. The gang murders Guerrero and he ends up in Hell.
Once there, he meets the Devil (played by a phone-in-the-performance Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler). He works out a deal where he is given 24 hours to kill the Blackwater Gang in exchange for his freedom. Upon his return, Guerrero teams up with a local alcoholic priest and the widow (Dina Meyer, Saw) of the town’s sheriff. One-by-one, he gains revenge, leading up to the ultimate showdown with Red. Will Guerrero make it by midnight and will the Devil play fair and make good on the deal?
The real question here is whether or not we had a real script writer and film editor. The biggest drawbacks to this film are its’ weak script and horrible editing. I really liked the premise of an outlaw coming back to seek revenge and save his soul. Sadly, the script was all over the place. I was even willing to overlook the typically bad CGI. However, in order to do that, I at least need a good script. Top that off with some really bad editing and Dead in Tombstone comes off looking like a forgettable direct-to-video disappointment.
For example, after Guerrero is killed the second time and we the sheriff’s widow leaning over him, he goes back to Hell. He’s given one last chance to collect the last soul. Upon his return, she is now tied up to a bed, captured by Red. No explanation at all. I had to rewind it to see if I missed something. It’s an irritating mistake. Visually, the film had some great locations and Anthony Michael Hall turned in a surprisingly good performance. Trejo was great at doing what he always does. Rourke…it’s just sad to see how he squandered his second chance in Hollywood.
I can’t really recommend Dead in Tombstone. This might have been considered a good flick…if it had been a SyFy original. As it is, it’s forgettable. Look elsewhere for your old west horror entertainment. May I suggest The Borrowers? Not great but better than we get here.