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Dead in Tombstone (2013)

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Dead in Tombstone (2013)

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"That's what they all say," says Lucifer (Mickey Rourke) when Guerrero (Danny Trejo) protests, "I don't belong here." After getting shot repeatedly by Red Cavanaugh, Guerrero's half-brother, as well as the gang he used to lead, he winds up in Hell. Bad luck. Naturally, he would like to improve his circumstances, and with this in mind, makes a deal with the devil. If in twenty-four hours he can bring in, as it were, his partners' six souls, he can elude Satan for the time being. The gang now runs the town of Tombstone, formerly Edendale, in which Guerrero was buried. And they are not the same sad bumpkins who rode in on a tip having to do with a stash of gold in a bank. The gang has been promoted, or has pulled itself up by its own bootstraps. It is close to respectable. It can buy off trouble. It is in with the sheriff and bankers. In a way, it constitutes the law.

Crazy, yes. But for some reason, suspension of disbelief is not a problem. If you like your gunfire loud, prefer multiple bullets mostly to a single, fatal shot (it has this, too), and relish the performance of whatever it takes, no matter what, to get even, then you'll stick with it. If not, then you probably did not purchase, rent, or steal this movie. Dead in Tombstone is a work of costume, style, confrontation, affectation, revenge, and horror after the fashion of the Grand Guignol. The dusty but gilded tradition of literature, and then movies based-on-literature, has supported narrational deals with the devil for a long time. Generally speaking, Old Scratch is a good businessman. He likes transactions. Who knows? Maybe it is boring down below, always getting one's way, but not quite able to outwit the fellas up above -- above Tombstone, that is, which is where just about everything takes place.

Somehow the filmmakers manage to weave in a parallel story having to do with a woman, also set on eliminating Red Cavanaugh. She wants to avenge her husband's wrongful death. At one point, she has the despicable vermin in her sites. But Guerrero interferes. His deal stipulates that all the subjects Lucifer requested die by his hand only. Naturally, Cavanaugh is special, too. His death must be saved until the very end. Then, it must be savored. Not to worry. If ever there was an hombre truly set on delivering six coffins to hell, it is Guerrero. Can the audience really accept such a tall tale? Why not? It has only to accept the dreamscape furnished by this latter-day western.

And that is the true crux of the matter. Westerns themselves today are like the Guerrero character, buried underneath an epitaph. Herein lies the box that contains several thousand pictures, some astonishing, long live their glory, others somewhat short on quality. But this one has a certain bite. It is a bona fide forget-me-not from Hell. So why wouldn't it gnaw at one's insides a little and be generous with bloodshed?

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