Hardened criminal Luther escapes from prison, contacts his old “butt-buddy” Buck, and asks him to put together a team to knock over a bank in Mexico. But Luther makes the mistake of stopping at the Titty Twister before meeting up with his friends…with the result being that by the time Luther is able to hook up with Buck and his crew, he’s been turned into a vampire. As the robbery deviates further and further from the plan, Luther transforms his fellow burglars into vampires one by one. And if that’s not enough trouble, they also have to deal with the federales and a pissed-off Texas Ranger with a vendetta against Luther and Buck…

I’ll be honest: sure, I wasn’t all that fond of From Dusk Till Dawn, but at least I respected what it was trying to do, kinda. That’s a whole lot more than I can say for this direct-to-video sequel.

There’s very little here that works. The story doesn’t transcend either its over-the-top action-horror roots or its hard-case crime-story pretensions. The dialogue is an emotionally stunted ninth-grader’s parody of Tarantino dialogue, which means it’s so terrible it makes The Boondock Saints look like Shakespeare by comparison. The characters are so badly defined that it’s hard to give a shit about any of them, and none of the cast–which is led by Robert Patrick, but also features Maynard from Pulp Fiction, the killer from I Know What You Did Last Summer, Tuco from Breaking Bad, and Woody Harrelson’s brother–are able to bring them to life.

All of those elements make for a mediocre movie; what makes Texas Blood Money an ordeal to watch are the deficient efforts of its director (and co-writer, with Maynard from Pulp Fiction), Scott Spiegel. Spiegel seems to think the best approach to his material is to direct it in such a way that it reminds the audience of Evil Dead 2 as much as possible. (This is, perhaps, understandable, considering he co-wrote Evil Dead 2.)

Now, this could have worked fairly well had it been applied in an effective manner. In the original, Robert Rodriguez had a very good handle on when to stay under the top and when to go over it–and I think this could be the very first time Rodriguez has ever been accused of restraint. Spiegel, on the other hand, applies some sort of ridiculous stunt, bizarro special effect or novelty camera usage to pretty much every scene in the film. The epitome of this is when someone is trying to crack a safe, we’re treated to a shot from the POV of the combination dial as it’s being spun. Whenever there’s an opportunity for Spiegel to make the audience aware of his presence in the flashiest, most ham-fisted way possible, he does so.

I suppose if I wanted to look at the positive, I could say that the effects aren’t half-bad. But honestly, that doesn’t excuse the rest of the production.

Look, I don’t insist that every film that I watch be able to be taken seriously. I understand that this is meant to be a horror-comedy and not a particularly tasteful one, either. But there’s a right way to do these things and a wrong way. Texas Blood Money comes off like the work of a hack who’s desperate for people to pay attention to him, starring a bunch of people who are only there to collect a paycheck. Don’t bother.

My rating: 1 of 10.

88 minutes. Directed by Scott Spiegel. Starring Robert Patrick, Bo Hopkins, Duane Whitaker, Muse Watson, Brett Harrelson, Raymond Cruz, Danny Trejo.

FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 2 poster

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