The third and final entry in the From Dusk Till Dawn movie series follows the format laid down by many ‘third’ entries before it by being a prequel. Set way before the events of both the first and the second movies, The Hangman’s Daughter effectively serves as an origin story for Santanico Pandemonium.
For those who have seen the TV Series that would follow many years later, this is the film that links up the best with it. It fact you could almost see this is a prequel to the TV series rather than the original 1996 movie. You can read our review of the original film here, the sequel here, the first season of the TV series here, the second season here and the third season here.
Set in the early 1900s, the story surrounds several different characters who all end up at the Titty Twister Bar in Mexico (although it’s not called that yet). We have the outlaw/bandit, Madrid (Marco Leonardi) and his hostage/would be lover, Esmeralda (Ara Celi) as well as the rest of his gang. Then we have the missionaries/bible seller husband and wife team of Mary Newlie (Rebecca Gayheart) and John Newlie (Lennie Loftin). Author Ambrose Bierce (Michael Parks) who is on a mission to join Pancho Villa’s army, salesman Ezra Traylor (Orlando Jones) and closely behind them is the hangman (Temuera Morrison) who Madrid escaped from and who is also the father of Esmeralda.
The first half of the movie is all about set-up, showing how all these characters meet and end up together. It establishes that Madrid is an anti-hero that doesn’t like his reputation and the way would-be protege Catherine Reece (Jordana Spiro) sees him. Bierce is an old drunk with delusional plans and Mary and John aren’t the happily married couple you might think.
Characters established, flaws begin to show as the acting quality varies and a few characters get quickly sidelined. Once the vampires attack it starts to feel overly familiar as it apes much of what the original did but in a much more tacky way. Whereas the original location felt like a real place, this feels and looks like a set.
Thankfully the film is aware enough to know that it doesn’t have much to give so doesn’t drag out the final third. Ultimately it all becomes clear that this is more about creating an origin story for one character only. Something that is a little head-scratching as although she commanded the screen, Santanico Pandemonium had a very minor role in the original and died just like any of the other vampires.
Is From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter any good? Yes and no. It’s a pointless prequel that doesn’t really do much or say anything. It’s entertaining in a kind of ‘fun but forget about it 2 hours later’ way. There’s enough gore, enough violence and enough silly vampire moments for most to get a kick out of it. Certainly better then the second film in the series.
From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter (1999)