From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money is a typical cash-grab. Still, this sequel (or possibly prequel?) to the weird classic by Tarantino and Rodriguez is not as bad as many another straight-to-DVD film. It is more of a “neither here nor there” affair, and rather predictable from scene to scene.
Luther is on the run from the police. And he has plans for a heist which involves stealing drug-money that sits in a Mexican bank; which means Luther and his friend Buck have to move fast. Buck recruits a crew of misfits for the job and they travel to Mexico in order to meet up with Luther. But Luther is late, because he had a run-in with something unexpected…
So far, so banal.
Texas Blood Money has a very decent cast with a number of great B-list actors you know from film or TV. This includes Robert Patrick as Buck, and Muse Watson and Raymond Cruz as members of the gang. Also, Danny Trejo has a nice cameo, reprising his bar-keeper role from the first film: there is a short scene set at the Titty Twister – a nod to the original.
All the actors in this film do a good job, but there is nothing in this script that would allow them to shine. In fact, the script (which is full of plot holes) at times throws a spanner in the works with weird lines of dialogue. Near the very end the film shows two characters in a dialogue so stiff and unnatural you have to assume it has been spontaneously written on the day of shooting, in which they “hang a lantern” on one of the plot holes trying to explain it away. That move is misguided and ineffectual. Attempts at humour also mostly fall flat in this film.
There is an extended action/fight scene at the end, which probably looked better on paper than it looks on the screen. I suppose this scene (which also features an implausibly long solar eclipse) was meant to mirror the extended fight for survival from the first film while trying not to copy it beat for beat. It is successful in that regard, as it does not look like a rehash, but unfortunately it does also not look good as an action scene, and it does not really work as a climax to the film’s plot.
In the camera department they tried a number of unusual shots. Some of them work, some don’t. Visually, there are two things worth mentioning. The vampires do not get “dusted”, rather they turn into mush when they die. This is probably done to add an extra layer of gore (of which this film has enough anyway). In 1999 this was possibly also cheaper than dusting, as it could be achieved with practical effects and did not require CGI. On the other hand, they made the unfortunate decision to have the vampire frequently act and attack in the shape of vampire bats. That leads to a number of CGI scenes which are mediocre when the bats fly, and laughably bad when they attack.
A lot of things, including the script, feel a bit sub-par. The whole project has a vibe to it that seems to suggest that everyone involved in it knew that this would sell thanks to the famous title alone, no matter how much or how little effort went into it.
This is not a totally bad film. You sort of get what you come for if your expectations are not too high: because this is nowhere near as good as the first film in terms of originality, style, or entertainment value. The imdb rating stands at 4.0 out of 10. I guess 4.5 would also be fair. I am even tempted to go as high as 5.0, because the film was not as bad as I feared when I started watching it. Still, a bit of a waste of time if your time is precious. But if you have nothing better to do anyway, you could do worse than see this film.