Curse of El Charro, The (2005)

The Curse of El Charro (2005)

True evil can never die

Four college girls are terrorized by the spirit of El Charro, an evil 18th-century land baron who slaughtered the family of a young woman who had spurned his romantic advances. One of the girls is apparently a reincarnation of the old object of his desire, leading El Charro’s ghost to commit a bloody rampage.

 

Throwing in a cool-looking killer, some hot chicks, a remote location and the combined talents of genre names Andrew Bryniarski and Danny Trejo as the title character, The Curse of El Charro sounded decent on paper – just the sort of easy-going horror flick I like to sit down and watch after a hard day at work. But though the lure of these elements was too great for me to resist, my eyes were quickly opened to the reality of the situation – The Curse of El Charro is a woeful film.

The first half of The Curse of El Charro is a snore fest of epic proportions. Slow, uninteresting and completely uninvolving , it feebly limps towards the inevitable killing spree at the end of the film. The four female characters are horrendous. Distinguished by their one-track minds, they can easily be bracketed into the slut, bitch, shy girl and crazy chick roles. They spend so much time bitching to one another that you wonder how they are all friends in the first place and why they’d decide to go on a road trip together. Conveniently the girls hook up with a bunch of guys and thus the obligatory scenes of them partying, drinking, having sex, get high and go swimming in outdoor pools on their own (a common failing for horror film characters – who in their right mind swims on their own in the middle of the night?) all come into force.

Apart from a few random flashbacks/dream sequences, El Charro doesn’t show up until the second half. Sadly, these scenes are the best part of the film and were shot in a scratched, sepia-toned old fashioned manner to give them an authentic look. Director Rich Ragsdale also fills up this early part of the film with plenty of nightmarish religious imagery which looks flash and no doubt ticks a lot of desert-set horror clichés about Mexican spirits and the like but its all for show. At the crucial part in the film, this imagery is cast aside in favour of traditional slasher tropes. It begs the question about why so much time was spent on it in the first half – padding is the likely answer. There’s also a really weird scene in a hick bar where some crippled singer gets wheeled out on stage in his wheelchair and then starts singing a really demented song – again the scene serves no point except to waste a bit more time.

By the time El Charro finally starts doing his thing, the drawn-out wait has dampened any expectations we may have had of the slaughter. You can pretty much predict in which order the characters will be killed off and how much blood will be spilled. There are odd moments where you think the film is going to spark into life but it doesn’t. Even then these more traditional slasher moments are too dark to see what is going on and despite the promise of some blood and a few loose limbs, the film widely misses the mark when it comes to delivering the carnage.

Despite having a silly name, The Curse of El Charro does at least have solid production values. This is not just some cheap-jack slasher because, although the budget was rumoured to be around $200,000, the film looks polished. Some effort has clearly gone into presentation and it looks like it has had some money behind it, even if it doesn’t have as much as it leads you to believe.

There are a few cameos from the likes of Lemmy (lead singer of Motorhead) and Alice Cooper’s daughter but I guess they were in here for name value only to try and draw a bit of extra cash. Like Bryniarski and Trejo, there is no real need for them to have been cast in this.

 

The Curse of El Charro has no solid structure, a leaden pace, lots of attempts of style over substance and a poor script. When you put all of these elements in the hands of a man who has more experience of composing music for video games than directing horror films, then the end results will be catastrophic, as evidenced here.

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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