Dead Man's Hand
This groaner of an oater feels like a bunch of friends and family playing Cowboys and Indians.
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I’m a sucker for a good Western. Hell, I’m a sucker for a bad Western. “Dead Man’s Hand” (now available in select theaters and on VOD) falls firmly in the latter category, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t kinda have a good time with this groaner of an oater.
Newlyweds Reno (Jack Kilmer) and Vegas (Camille Collard) are traveling by stagecoach to Nevada. (Go figure!) Their trip gets tripped up when Ed Bishop (Forrest Wilder) and his band of thieves stick up the stage and threaten to assault Vegas and fellow female passengers Sarah (Laurie Love) and Nicole (Izzy Batinkoff). Reno, a skilled gunhand, takes it upon himself to assure this doesn’t happen by taking out the trash.
Reno takes no pleasure in murdering these marauders and insists they take their bodies back to town for proper burial. He should’ve left ‘em on the desert floor as Bishop’s brother Clarence (Stephen Dorff) is the town’s self-proclaimed mayor and hungry for revenge. Reno finds an ally in U.S. Marshall Roy McCutcheon (Cole Hauser), a former friend of Clarence’s who suspects he and his men killed the actual mayor and sheriff and took the town over.
The movie is based on the graphic novel “No Rest for the Wicked: Dead Man’s Hand” by Kevin and Matthew Minor. It’s directed by Brian Skiba (“Pursuit,” “The 2nd”) and co-written by Skiba and Parker Lewis himself, Corin Nemec.
Skiba’s initial credit proclaims “Dead Man’s Hand” as, “A Brian Skiba Flick” … and a flick it is. This ain’t a film. This ain’t a picture. It’s a flick! The acting is largely bad. The dialogue is often worse. This is the sort of flick where Vegas retreats to she and Reno’s room with working girl Philly (Myah White) to wash each other’s breasts for no apparent reason other than the prurient one. This is the sort of flick where shit blows up and a horribly rendered wooden board reading, “TNT,” flies directly at the camera.
My favorite aspect of the flick is probably the murderers’ row of acting talent from the 1980s and 1990s who make up Clarence’s gang. Among them are Costas Mandylor (“Picket Fences”), William McNamara (“Surviving the Game”), Randall Batinkoff (Hauser’s “School Ties” co-star who also produced) and the aforementioned Nemec. As a “Tombstone” fanatic it’s also fun to see Val Kilmer’s kid strap on his six shooters.
“Dead Man’s Hand” feels like a bunch friends and family getting together to play Cowboys and Indians. Skiba and Batinkoff’s kids pop up in supporting roles, Wilder’s father Forrie J. Smith plays Alexander the barkeep and Dorff’s Dad, noted country songwriter Steve, handles scoring duties. These folks appear to be having fun and I admittedly had fun watching ‘em, but the resulting product isn’t polished nor accomplished. There are two severed trigger fingers in the flick so I reckon the best I can do is two severed trigger fingers out of five severed trigger fingers.