From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter (1999)
By: Julian on February 24, 2011  | 
Roadshow | Region 4, PAL | 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 2.0 | 90 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: PJ Pesce
Starring: Marco Leonardi, Rebecca Gayheart, Michael Parks, Temuera Morrison, Danny Trejo
Screenplay: Alvaro Rodriguez
Country: USA
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From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter is the direct-to-video prequel of Robert Rodriguez's 1996 original. In The Hangman's Daughter, Michael Parks returns to the franchise to play author Ambrose Bierce, a real-life American who went missing in Mexico in the 19th century.

The film is set in this period, and opens in a dusty Mexican town beleaguered by outlaws and bandits. Johnny Madrid (Marco Leonardi) is among the criminals that have been hauled in by the local law, and Johnny is sentenced to hang in the town square. Madrid is freed at the gallows (a shameless rip-off of, or perhaps a respectful nod to, The Good the Bad and the Ugly), and he escapes with the hangman's daughter Esmeralda (Ara Celi) as his hostage.

Madrid reunites with members of his original gang and, bizarrely, his rescuer: a girl named Reece (Jordana Spiro) who is eager to join the ways of the bandito. Madrid decides to kill her, but something the girl says stops him in his tracks: a stagecoach, operated by Southern newlyweds spreading the Good Word, is replete with an invaluable (but unspecified) cargo, ripe for pilfering. Madrid decides to give the girl a chance, but promises death should she be wrong. When Madrid and the gang intercept the stagecoach, there's nothing aboard except the happy couple peddling bibles and Ambrose Bierce, an atheist who delights in the discomfort of his travelling companions.

Madrid learns that the precious cargo is Bierce himself, and he diverts the party to a bar-cum-brothel, the ground upon which the infamous Titty Twister was built. Like its successor, though, this particular establishment is peopled by vampires, and Madrid soon learns that meeting his fate at the hands of the hangman (Temuera Morrison) would have been preferable to what he has stumbled into.

The Hangman's Daughter and its predecessor, Texas Blood Money, debuted on Region 4 in late 2010, a belated welcome to two immensely enjoyable B-grade sequels to a nineties gem. Lawrence Bender, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez are credited as executive producers, as they are for Texas Blood Money, but the latter appears to have played a greater role in this film than in the first sequel, appearing with a 'story' credit alongside screenwriter Alvaro Rodriguez. The plot itself is barmy fun – it's the hostage situation of the original film transposed to a Western theme – and The Hangman's Daughter follows the From Dusk Till Dawn blueprint of only introducing the vampires well into the film.

The cover slick proclaims that The Hangman's Daughter is "better, bolder and bloodier than the original", which is a deceitful piece of advertising on three counts. There's no comparison – the first was a slick, brash A-movie in B-movie's clothing, carried by great performances and an exceptional directing style. This movie, like the other sequel, is merely an excitable rehash of the original film. PJ Pesce, who earns his bread largely by directing sequels to cult movies (see also: Sniper 3, Lost Boys 2 and Smokin' Aces 2) does a solid job with the material – there's no exceptional directorial flair, but Pesce has a rudimentary grasp on the horror conventions.

Technically, this is relatively accomplished: Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger return to the franchise for the third time as the SFX gurus and they produce some very good work considering The Hangman's Daughter's DTV roots. Absent are the POV shots that were hilariously evident in the second film – a more measured approach is taken to the camerawork, and one may be thankful for small mercies.

The return of Michael Parks is certainly an asset; in my view, Parks is an underrated character actor and he ably takes on a leading role here, far meatier than his character Earl McGraw in the original film. Donning a long, 1800s statesman's beard, Parks is unrecognisable. Also returning to the fray is Danny Trejo, naturally as the bartender, but following his quality turn in Texas Blood Money, Trejo's reprisal was simply essential. The remaining cast traverses a narrow spectrum between adequate and sub-par, but nobody is stand-out terrible.

The Hangman's Daughter is a fitting conclusion to the From Dusk Till Dawn trilogy. It is a less cynical second sequel than is many, good-naturedly attempting to reinvent the franchise and introduce something new with the turn-of-the-19th-century setting. The focus here is on the Western frontier theme as opposed to the hostage situation, crims-on-the-run that featured in the first film and was reprised in the second. The Hangman's Daughter also connects up to the original nicely by introducing the legendary vampire Satanico Pandemonium, played by Salma Hayek in the first film. Recommended, particularly at the low price for which this film may be found locally.
The picture is presented in 1.78:1, with 16:9 enhancement. It is of reasonable quality, and the few lapses in clarity are consistent with a decade-old DTV film.
One English audio track, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0. It sounded fine, but the dialogue and background noise was occasionally unbalanced. English subtitles are provided.
Extra Features
The Verdict
The Hangman's Daughter pips its predecessor at the post, mainly because it does not seek to exactly replicate the original. This third instalment blueprints the style and tone of Rodriguez's first film, but by changing the time period and introducing some original elements to the story, The Hangman's Daughter succeeds in its own right.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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