Judge Mitchell Hattaway used to think any slasher movie with Lemmy from Motörhead couldn't be that bad. Boy, was he wrong.
He's back with time to kill.
With a tagline that clever, it just has to be good.
Facts of the Case
Four L.A. college students, distinguishable only by stereotype and/or degree of sluttiness, take a road trip to Arizona, where they are stalked by the corpse of the legendary Mexican land baron known as El Charro.
Let's begin by talking about this movie's pedigree. It was directed by Rich Ragsdale, who is best known for composing music for video games. It was written by Ryan Johnson, who is best known for being the action double for one of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. And aside from the dude who portrays God (more on that later), the most recognizable onscreen performer is a porn star who is better known for her obsession with cosmetic surgery than her acting abilities. Just imagine the sort of masterpiece such a stunning convergence of talent would be capable of creating! Now imagine it being even worse than you imagined. Honestly, I have no idea what the hell's going on in this movie. There's something about a cursed bloodline, something about reincarnation, a crazy homeless lady, and a cameo appearance by God (more on that later), but I don't know how it all fits together. Don't really care, either.
See if any of this makes sense to you: The movie opens with the four college coeds planning preparing for their trip. There's the Sassy Black Girl (Kathryn Taylor). There's the Bitchy Goth Chick (KellyDawn Malloy). There's the Terminally Chirpy One (Heidi Androl). And there's the Crazy One (Andrew Mia). See, the Crazy One has been having weird visions of her sister, a devoutly religious young woman who recently took her own life. The Crazy One's erratic behavior bothers the Sassy Black Girl and the Bitchy Goth Chick, but the Terminally Chirpy One convinces them to let the Crazy Chick tag along. This leads to an hour of the Sassy Black Girl and the Bitchy Goth Chick constantly insulting the Crazy One, which is just what you want from a cheap slasher flick. See, aside from the poor direction, laughter-inducing acting, and horrible writing, the big problem with The Curse of El Charro is the complete lack of action during the first hour. The coeds drive, argue about who is going to be the biggest whore during the trip, smoke some weed, and listen to the music of Tard, which just so happens to be Rich Ragsdale's band, which explains why the band receives so much shameless plugging.
Modern horror movies are legally required to feature a creepy sheriff, and the creepy sheriff featured here shows up in the first five minutes, which has to be some sort of record. But get this—the creepy sheriff has absolutely nothing to do with the overall plot. He pulls the girls over for driving erratically, acts all tough, and then lets them off after the Sassy Black Girl fellates him. He then leads them to a Lynchian bar where a guy with cerebral palsy gets onstage and croaks a heavy metal ditty, after which the girls pick up a sixer and split, leaving the sheriff behind. The only thing worse than pulling out a tired old cliché is pulling out a tired old cliché, using it to kill fifteen minutes, and then dropping it completely.
After leaving the bar, the girls have their first encounter with El Charro, who shambles out of the desert sporting a cheap hat, a dirty overcoat, and a really poor makeup job. The girls get away, after which El Charro disappears for the next forty-five minutes. The girls finally arrive at their destination, a complex of bungalows in the middle of nowhere. One of these bungalows contains a shrine to either Jesus or George Carlin (the figure featured in the painting on the wall's a bit indistinct), which totally freaks out the Crazy One. The girls then change clothes and go out. They go to a club, have some drinks, and hook up with three guys. Oh, and the Crazy One runs into a homeless woman out behind the club who shows her an old book that somehow causes the Crazy One to have a vision of some old silent film footage that explains the legend of El Charro. The girls and the guys then head back to the bungalows. The Terminally Chirpy One and the dude she hooks up with stop and pick up some other dude and his girlfriend, who is portrayed by porn star Tabitha Stevens.
Okay, so they make it back to the bungalows, where the Sassy Black Chick gets mad when the first guy she's about to sleep with can't perform. The Sassy Black Chick then makes a play for another guy, but she gets mad when he asks to see her breasts. El Charro—who is played by Andrew Bryniarski and voiced by Danny Trejo—shows up and kills the Sassy Black Chick, the guy who asked to see her breasts, and the guy who couldn't perform. Meanwhile, the Bitchy Goth Chick and Tabitha Stevens get high and take a shower. Just as Tabitha starts to orally pleasure the Bitchy Goth Chick (typecasting!), El Charro walks in and slashes the Bitchy Goth Chick's throat. It takes Tabitha a moment to realize that's blood running down her chin, and she freaks out when she finally does, after which El Charro proceeds to hack her up. El Charro then kills the Terminally Chirpy Girl and the guy who was about to nail her on the hood of his old pickup truck. The Crazy Girl sees all the carnage and runs into the room where the shrine is. El Charro corners her. Then an archangel shows up and saves the day. Yep, an archangel (I believe it's supposed to be Michael) appears out of nowhere and kills El Charro. He literally pops up out of nowhere. One minute he's not there, next minute he is. Seems to me he would have had the common courtesy to appear out of nowhere before El Charro had slaughtered several people, and it seems he would have done something to prevent the Crazy One from subsequently being locked up in a mental institution, but I guess archangels just aren't what they used to be.
Remember what I said about God's cameo? Well, God is played by Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmeister, who stands in front of a shower curtain decorated to look like an old woodcut and spouts pretentious, portentous, nonsensical dialogue. Or at least I think that's what he does. See, I think Lemmy's cool and all, and I know people who think he actually is God, but I couldn't look at him for more than five seconds without thinking of a rude crack Beavis and Butthead made about the growths on his face (they likened them to Cocoa Puffs), and this totally took me out of the scene. For all I know, Lemmy could have been explaining exactly what the hell was going on and I totally missed it. (For the record, I would have hired Ronnie James Dio to play God. And I would have made sure to bring an apple crate for him to stand on.)
Despite that fact that it's a failure on every level, The Curse of El Charro does provide one brief moment of quality entertainment. During the flashback showing how the Crazy One discovered her sister's dead body, the Crazy One accidentally grabs her dead sister's left breast. For reasons not made clear, the sister disrobed before she offed herself (not that I'm complaining, mind you), and when the Crazy One rushes over to the bed in a state of shock, she briefly cops a feel before realizing what she's doing and quickly jerking her hand away. That's good stuff.
One more thing—despite the fact that supernatural elements abound in The Curse of El Charro, the hardest thing to swallow is the idea that California college kids would actually travel to Arizona to party. Are you kidding me?
The Curse of El Charro was shot on high definition video, but that doesn't mean much. The transfer is grainy, noisy, and awash in artifacts. Colors and details are very poor, and you can forget about following the action in darker scenes (which constitute about ninety percent of the movie). As for the audio, dialogue is buried in the mix and the surrounds have been pumped up to far too high a level. Extras included a trailer, a nonsensical animated short also directed by Rich Ragsdale, and a behind-the-scenes-featurette. What do you learn in this featurette? The script was cranked out in two weeks, the cast was hired four days before shooting began, and Tabitha Stevens looped her dialogue while topless. Big whoop.
Just when I think these straight-to-DVD horror flicks can't possibly get any worse, along comes something like this.
Bad writing, bad acting, and incompetent direction, which can only mean one thing: guilty as hell.
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Scales of Justice
• The Making of The Curse of El Charro
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