Director Roel Reiné is one of the better filmmakers of the current DTV action market. His Death Race 2 and 3 pushed the low-budget action envelope and with his latest, Dead in Tombstone, he continues to deliver the most bang for the buck. Of course, if you’re looking for any kind of higher stimulation beyond huge explosions and tremendous stunt set-pieces, take a hike. Reiné really puts his stars Danny Trejo, Mickey Rourke, and Anthony Michael Hall through the wringer in this fun, totally absurd tale of supernatural revenge. More information on Universal’s Blu-ray of Dead in Tombstone after the jump.
Dead in Tombstone is a tonally bonkers action-horror flick in which Danny Trejo makes a deal with the Devil, played by Mickey Rourke. You may think he’s a weird choice to play Satan and, well, he is. I’m not sure how he was written in the script, but Rourke kinda just loafs around Hell, which is this circular room with a big fireplace. There are a lot of shots of him pacing back and forth, saying esoteric things and staring contemplatively at the floor. It’s one of the most boring portrayals of the Prince of Darkness I’ve ever seen. He’s credited as Blacksmith (groan).
There is a part where he bites Trejo’s fingernail off that’s really funny because it’s so ridiculous. Trejo is sent to south of Heaven after he’s betrayed by his outlaw gang members and shot down like a dog. They’re called the Blackwater Gang – a motley crew of gunslingers led by Guerrero (Trejo) and his half-brother Red (Anthony Michael Hall). They roll into a small mining town with aims to rob the place blind, but Red betrays Guerrero, who’s gunned down by the entire gang. A year later, Guerrero rises from Hell, with 24 hours to kill all six remaining members of the gang in return for his soul.
Visually, Dead in Tombstone is a western, but it never has the tone of one. Beyond horses and cowboys, you’re not getting a western. It’s basically like Machete set in a western theme park. The film is action to the bone – with each scene setting up conflict for the subsequent one.
There is a horror vibe for a little while when Guerrero is sent back from Hell. He comes back butt naked in the middle of the night – like Terminator. Instead of being in the need of a boots and a motorcycle though, Guerrero needs a horse and a shot of whiskey. Once he comes back, the film is relentlessly entertaining. When it comes to DTV action, Roel Reiné genuinely knows what he’s doing.
Dead in Tombstone has some really impressive stunts and set-pieces – from horse-drawn carriage flips to chandelier swings (classic!) and massive explosions – and they’re all staged and shot better than most Hollywood action fare. One particular explosion near the end looks impossibly large, though no CGI was used. Action fans will definitely want to check out this unique supernatural revenge thriller.
Dead in Tombstone is presented in 1080p HD in 1.78:1 widescreen. The detail is incredible at times – you can count the chest hairs on Anthony Michael Hall. There are some heavy shadows in this film and the Blu-ray displays the contrasts very nicely. The DTS-HD 5.1 audio is mixed nicely, with explosions booming outta the rear speakers. No complaints in the A/V department.
The Blu-ray contains nine deleted scenes, with the option to watch them as a montage. “The Making of Dead in Tombstone” is a 10-minute look behind the scenes that features lots of the cast and crew discussing their thoughts on each other and the film. There’s nothing too insightful there. “Horses, Guns, and Explosions” is a brief look at the the stunts, including that massive explosion I was talking about. The work the horses put in on this film is incredible and it’s great to get some behind the scenes insight on their training. Horses are stunt people too!
There’s also a short look at Roel Reiné’s intense directing style. The man works super fast, covers everything, and knows exactly what he wants. I really hope this guy gets some big-budget work soon, but for now, his DTV films are enough to satisfy the most diehard action fans.
“A Town Transformed” looks into the production design. “Creating Hell” is a short sizzle reel displaying the film’s various effects shots.
Viewers can watch either the rated or unrated version of the film. The R-rated version is about a minute longer.
In his commentary Reiné talks about his love of American westerns, which he watched as a boy growing up in Holland. He goes into the origins of the film, shooting in Romania, and various other technical aspects. It’s a lively track and Reiné is obviously passionate about action films. Fans will definitely want to give it a listen.