Thursday, January 26, 2017

From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series - Matanzas

Vampires vs. zombie gunslingers.

We're in the home stretch now. This is the penultimate episode of season three of this television series based on the 1996 film From Dusk Till Dawn, and as it begins we're heading toward the final battle.

With his wife and child in hiding so they'll be safe from the Culebras, the snake-like vampires that Texas Ranger Freddie Gonzalez (Jesse Garcia) is constantly being forced to deal with, Gonzalez has spent this season sleeping with any willing woman that crosses his path, and now that his family has been kidnapped by Amaru (Madison Davenport), the Queen of Hell, he appears to be risking the fate of the world to get them back, aiding Amaru in her quest to unleash Hell on Earth. All that stands in Amaru's way is the last of the Culebra ruling class, Ana de la Reguera as Lord Venganza Verdugo. When Venganza has been reduced to ashes, Amaru will be able to do whatever she wants. And Gonzalez is delivering Venganza to Amaru.

Gonzalez's decisions throughout this season have really knocked my opinion of him into the dirt, but not even I can buy that he really means to just let Amaru do what she wants. I mean, he wants to save his wife and child, but how high is their quality of life going to be if the forces of Hell are running rampant?

Meanwhile, the rest of our heroes have gotten prepared for war, building bombs and loading their guns with bullets dipped in vampire venom. There's a ticking clock element to their mission - Amaru will be holding her Hell-opening ritual in seven hours.

As they're heading to battle, there is a nice nod to the original film when the vampire Sex Machine (Jake Busey) offers a gift to demon hunter Burt, who is played by Tom Savini. Savini played Sex Machine in the '96 movie, and wore the gun codpiece that Busey's Sex Machine wears on the show. Sex Machine tries to give Burt a spare gun codpiece, for a moment there appears to be a chance that we'll get to see Savini shooting from his groin again twenty years later... but then Burt discards the codpiece, calling it stupid.

Oh well. At least we do get to see Savini use a whip, like he did in the movie. Plus a sword this time!

The characters converge on the town of the title, Matanzas, an Old West ghost town, where the action commences - and for me, this episode delivered some of the coolest action moments this series has had yet. The Titty Twister slaughter in the back end of season one will probably always be tops, but when a show has a shootout in a ghost town with walking dead gunslingers, its writers have found the way to my heart. In this case, the writer was Marcel Rodriguez, who wrote the previous episodes 'Let's Get Ramblin''. 'La Conquista', 'Attack of the 50-ft. Sex Machine', 'The Last Temptation of Richard Gecko', and 'Fanglorious'.

The physical altercation vampire Richie Gecko (Zane Holtz) gets in with Jaguar Warrior Zolo (Marko Zaror), a beast of a man who would fit right in with the desert-dwelling cannibals of The Hills Have Eyes as well as with the villains of The Road Warrior, who I referenced when he first showed up in 'Fanglorious', is a cool fight, Savini's stuff is great, Richie's human brother Seth (D.J. Cotrona) has a good confrontation with the sun god Brasa (Maurice Compte), but those decaying cowboys are exceptionally awesome. The ending of the gunfight is utterly ridiculous, but we are watching a show about vampires and monsters. A show with gun codpieces.

I have just one real complaint about this episode, and that's about what happens to Savini/Burt. Savini's Sex Machine was killed in the movie, and he goes out in a very strange way - turning into a giant hairless rat after being decapitated - because director Robert Rodriguez said if you're going to kill off Tom Savini, you have to give him an impressive death. We say goodbye to Burt in the final moments of this episode, and his death isn't all that impressive, made even weaker by the fact that he has the same last words as a character who was killed just moments before.

Aside from that, I thought this was a solid, exciting episode and it has me hyped to see the conclusion to this season's story. This was the fifth episode in the series to be directed by Joe Menendez, who had been at the helm of the episodes 'Self-Contained',  'The Best Little Horror House in Texas', 'Bondage', and 'There Will Be Blood'. It's a good sign that he was also the director of the next episode, the season finale.

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