FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 2MOVIE REVIEW
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JOSEPH CROSS, BRIANA EVIGAN,
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A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
Quentin Tarantino, Lawrence Bender, and Robert Rodriguez may have put their names on this film as executive producers, and their production companies (A Band Apart and Los Hooligans) are listed in the credits, but in reality they probably contributed very little beyond cash and a plot to follow up on. In fact, this could easily have been a stand-alone story. The only things writer/director Scott Spiegel (INTRUDER, EVIL DEAD 2) and writer Boaz Yakin (THE PUNISHER) borrowed from the first flick were the Titty Twister bar (apparently it wasn't destroyed for good, and it's only in this flick for about five seconds), Razor Eddie the bartender (Danny Trejo: DESPERADO, FROM DUSK TIL DAWN, ANACONDA, and blink-and-you'll-miss-him in THE HIDDEN), and a few brief character references.
Once again, our protagonists are actually the bad guys. When Luther (Duane Whitaker: PUPPETMASTER 5, TALES FROM THE HOOD) busts out of jail, he plans a heist on a Mexican bank reputed to be a laundering point for American drug dealers. The haul: a cool five million bucks. He contacts his old partner, Buck (Robert Patrick: TERMINATOR 2, THE FACULTY), who in turn rounds up the rest of their gang. Their muscle is the hot-headed Jesus (It's "hay-sus" but his buddies call him "jee-zus"), played by Raymond Cruz (ALIEN: RESURRECTION). The safecracker is the grizzled C.W., played by Muse Watson (I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER). Rounding out the gang is the idiot Ray Bob, played by Brett Harrelson (STRANGELAND; and yep, he's Woody's brother).
The four members of the gang head south to the El Coyote motel in Mexico to await Victor's arrival. Unfortunately, a huge bat hits Victor's Jeep and takes it out of commission. He hoofs it, and finds himself at the Titty Twister bar. The bartender offers to give him a ride back to his Jeep, where he investigates the bat and finds the bat was really a vampire.
Luther, of course, becomes our first vampire.
Luther goes back to the motel, and his first victim is the hooker (played by the rather luscious Playboy Playmate Maria Checa in her first role) Jesus had just spent an evening with. Jesus manages to kill her, but Luther converts him. The two then get back together with the gang and insist on hitting the bank right away.
The real action occurs in the bank. While Luther is slowly turning the rest of the gang into vampires, a silent alarm is tripped and the cops show up in force. Buck gets wise to what is happening, making him the overall hero of the flick as he fights to survive, then tries to kill the others.
Spiegel and Yakin work hard to capture what Tarantino and Rodriguez accomplish in the first film, with the sleazy feel and rough characters, and only partially succeed. The action and effects are little better than the average B movie, and the vampires are repelled by anything that even remotely resembles an actual cross (such as the crossbars in the safe's wheel, or the red cross on the back of an ambulance). The characters are generic, but they are filled out with some over-the-top yet cool dialogue and quirks that are practically Tarantino's trademark.
The temple ruin/bar setting of the first film was much better suited to a vampire action flick than the clean bank in this one, and the motel room sequences were obviously shot on a sound stage as some of the walls, when struck by a flying body, wobble. The remainder of the cinematography is 50/50: Spiegel is apparently a fan of the POV shot, and uses it in interesting angles such as mounted on a rotating fan that tracks characters or during a conversation between two characters in which one is doing push-ups. In other instances, however, it's just plain silly, such as when the camera is supposedly inside the vampire's throat as his teeth rip into a jugular.
The final confrontation, and its result, is fairly predictable. There's a fair-sized flaw in the ending. Let it suffice to say that Spiegel and Yakin should have paid a little more attention during their science classes.
There are two cameo appearances in the beginning, during a movie-within-the-movie that Buck and his wife are watching. Tiffani-Amber Thiessen (I KNOW WHAT YOU SCREAMED LAST SUMMER) and Bruce Campbell (EVIL DEAD 1 & 2, ARMY OF DARKNESS - but you already knew that, didn't you?) play a pair of lawyers that encounter a swarm of vampire bats in an elevator.
In all, a fair effort that could have been better with a little more nurturing and thought. As a sequel, it's on par with what PROPHECY II: ASHTOWN did for its predecessor. I give it two shriek girls.