From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999): Ah, as someone with a heart for dubious direct-to-DVD films, I really wanted to like Scott Spiegel’s completely unasked for (just like a TV show adaptation that spends hours and hours repeating the basic plot of a movie, mostly adding lots of useless crap to it – oops) sequel to Robert Rodriguez’ original film, but somehow, the film never really comes together as the trashy horror comedy it attempts to be. There’s a lot happening here, and everything’s as loud as possible, and still I found myself getting distracted and bored watching it, mostly because nothing of the loud things that are happening is much interesting. The actors – among them Robert Patrick and Bo Hopkins – seem to have fun, but little of that is transmitted to the audience.
Dark Mountain (2013): Tara Anaïse’s POV horror film about a trio of filmmakers (sort of) searching for the Lost Dutchman Mine in the adorably named (thanks, America) Superstition Mountains, on the other hand, does offer so much I found interesting, I was having a lot of fun watching it. Sure, this is POV horror that is satisfied with playing variations on genre themes, but it does so with class and style, some clever horror effects, decent acting and excellent sound design, all the while making good use of the inherent creepiness of large empty spaces. I’m also rather fond of the film’s more fortean approach to its supernatural occurrences that produces a slightly different kind of disquiet in a viewer than usual in the genre.
Particularly the film’s final third contains some very effective moments of horror which alone would be enough to make this a rewarding watch.
Hercules Reborn (2014): Yup, it’s the other Hercules film of the year. This one’s an Asylum production directed by Nick Lyon featuring some wrestler much less interesting than that other wrestler as the big-breasted one, and it’s another puzzling example of the utter inability of contemporary filmmakers to make a decent Hercules film, which really can’t be that difficult when the Italian film industry managed during the heyday of the peplum with budgets that can’t have been much higher.
Lyon’s film attempts to make up for its lack of imagination and sense of wonder by various grimdark gestures. While it’s not exactly the direction I want this sort of film to go, I could imagine this approach working, if a film actually tried to do something with the grimdarkness. In a development that will surprise exactly no one, Hercules Reborn can’t be arsed to do anything much beyond being pointlessly unpleasant whenever it is not plain boring – and ye gods it does get frightfully boring with the high adventure you’d hoped for mostly replaced by aimless dithering – with clearly no thought wasted on providing the long-suffering audience with anything entertaining.