Director Roel Reine isn't exactly a great director. All of his feature films have never made it to the theater. All have been direct-to-video, including a couple of the 'Death Race' sequels and 'The Scorpion King 3'. Not exactly the cream of the crop. His problem is that he doesn't really know how to direct his actors as well as shoot any type of action scene that is thrilling or coherent. And with 'Dead in Tombstone', these are the aspects that make this would be fun-as-hell film fail.
It seemed like someone wanted to make a 'Machete' movie as a western, but also threw in the devil and a supernatural aspect to appeal to a wider audience. And whoever thought to put Machete (Danny Trejo) and the nerd from 'The Breakfast Club' (Anthony Michael Hall) together as half-brothers, is a genius. But 'Dead in Tombstone' follows Machete...err...Guerrero (Trejo) and Red (Hall), who are half brothers who lead a band of outlaws in the wild west, as they go riding into towns, robbing and blasting their guns. None of this really makes any sense, but there are some laugh out loud one liners and ridiculous slow motion shots riddled throughout.
However, when Guerrero, Red, and their outlaws head into a new town to raise hell, in typical 'Machete' fashion, Trejo's character is betrayed and left for dead. Well here, he actually dies and travels to hell where he meets the devil (Mickey Rourke), who walks around a room talking nonsense and even eats Guerrero's fingernails off his hand and other forms of torture. It's completely idiotic. But Guerrero isn't ready to stay in hell forever, for his makes a deal with the devil.
Guerrero promises Satan that he will kill and deliver Red and the rest of his gang's bodies and souls to him within 24 hours in return for him to keep his own soul. And with the flick of a switch, the wrinkle of the nose, and twitch of the eye, Guerrero is back on Earth, hell bent on getting his revenge. And this is where the film picks up with action sequence after action sequence. Guerrero becomes unstoppable as he stalks and kills each member one by one. There is a lame love-story thrown in here, but it does nothing but make me angry, as our heroine isn't exactly thought through all the way.
Is there a giant explosion in the film? Yes. Which surprisingly looks good. And are there humans riding horses at top speeds covered in fire? Yes there are. So if this is the type of western film, you're wanting, then by all means you'll have a good time with this. But be wary of the one-note characters, the poor dialogue and the awful action sequences. As with Roel's other films, and as he discusses in the extras, he tends to set up multiple cameras during the action scenes so he can film everything in one go around and be done with it. The results are disastrous and don't transfer well to the final product. Instead of a coherent and well made action sequence, we get a jumbled mess of a film where we are trying to figure out what is really going on.
If that wasn't enough, Roel turned the final shootout into 'The Matrix' for good measure, because why not. Hall does a good job as always with what he's given, and Trejo is always a brute force on screen, but with some of this film, he is more stale. Rourke as the devil is just dumb. He does nothing but have a blank face and delivers some of the worst lines in the film.
'Dead in Tombstone' comes with an impressive 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. I didn't expect this video image to be this good. The detail is very sharp with well defined closeups of the actors faces. You can see every scar of Trejo's body and face, along with every hair follicle on Anthony Michael Hall's face. The makeup effects look very real and good in this sharp picture. Even in the wider shots, the image has depth and clarity.
The colors are very well saturated and balanced. There are a lot of browns, yellows, and some deep reds here. All come across very well. The blacks are deep and inky with some natural and smooth flesh tones. I didn't notice any banding, aliasing, or any other compression issues. This is a great video presentation.
This release comes with a very good lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and sounds great. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand, with no pops, cracks, or hissing coming through the speakers. The LFE is great here and the dynamic range is quite wide.
During the heavier action sequences, the surrounds get a great workout with some great sound effects of guns blasting, explosions, and other screams. The score sounds good here too and always adds a bit of suspense and action. The bass rumbles from time to time, giving this audio presentation a solid mark.
'Dead in Tombstone' isn't good filmmaking at all. It's poorly made with some great talent and a fun premise. if only it was made by a better director, then this movie might have made some decent money. It's not a complete loss, but not worth owning unless you're a huge Danny Trejo fan. The video and audio presentations are top notch, with some very good extras. The unrated version is literally like 45 seconds longer than the R rated version. Again, I'd rent this one before purchasing, and if you enjoy it, then definitely add it to your collection.