09th Nov2022

‘The Legend of Hawes’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Emily Whitcomb, Mike Markoff, Richard Tyson, Karin Brauns, Tony Jackson | Written by Rene Perez, Kent Hill | Directed by Rene Perez

Writer/director Rene Perez (Playing With Dolls) is back with horror western The Legend of Hawes, which tells the story of survivors of a ravenous marauder attack, marauders who we’re told, in the film opening tile card ravaged the land and wore the faces of their victims in battle. In their quest for revenge for the death of their father and husband, the two survivors, Harriet (Emily Whitcomb) and her sister-in-law Inger (Karin Braun), hire a pair of men to help track down the marauders – tracker Mr. Tyson (Richard Tyson) and the legendary gunman of the film’s title, Hawes (Mike Markoff). The thing is Hawes was also a victim of the marauders, killing his wife and family and leaving Hawes to turn to alcohol to numb the pain of his loss. Hawes is certainly not as angry and vengeful as Harriet that’s for sure!

We’ve reviewed a number of writer/director/cinematographer/editor (the guy does a LOT on his movies) Rene Perez’s films in the past – namely The Burning Dead, the Playing With Dolls franchise, Death Kiss and The Insurrection. Perez even lensed a fantastic G.I. Joe/Snake Eyes fan film back in 2020. More recently though Perez has been single-handedly reviving the Western – with films like Righteous Blood, and Once Upon a Time in Deadwood. He’s also mixed genres, offering a new take on the Western with 2018’s Alien Showdown which is essentially ‘Cowboys vs Aliens’ on a super-low budget!

With The Legend of Hawes Perez takes the Western and throws in the tropes and cliches of the backwoods horror genre – films like The Hills Have Eyes, Wrong Turn and even his own playing With Dolls series – into the mix; delivering a film with monsters that look like distant cousins of Perez’s Havoc character! And like those films, this film is packed with blood, gore and action. In fact, the film opens with the massacre of Harriet’s family in bloody fashion, with Harriet dispatching the marauders in gruesome ways – including a very bloody eye gouging!

The Legend of Hawes features some rather interesting directorial decisions – from the use of faux scratches and focusing errors to try and emphasise the Grindhouse-style leanings of the film; to the rather more modern use of a camera mounted on a gun, giving us not only a POV of Hawes as he wields his weapon but also switching to the kind of first-person shooter view normally reserved for video games! What’s also “interesting” about the film is the choice to throw religious messages into the mix… For despite being filled with death, blood, LITERAL guts and nudity, The Legend of Hawes also feels like a faith-based film. We’re not talking Exorcist-style faith, good versus evil, I’m talking about Harriet giving a sermon to Hawes, who later “finds God” and redemption after an angel(!) appears to him!

The Legend of Hawes unfortunately also suffers from some filler material that pads out the films running time but also slows the film down considerably – a meeting between Hawes and the wife of a deceased man, the sermonising from Harriet and a bizarre travelling montage to a rock soundtrack could all have easily been cut from the film without sacrificing any of the story beats (the scene between Hawes and the deceased man’s wife, in particular, has ZERO bearing on the film whatsoever IMHO).

Eventually, things come a head as Hawes and Harriet take on the marauders in their base camp, killing all but one of them and freeing a handful of prisoners – including Hawes’ daughter, whom he thought dead! I say all but one of the marauders as the film, in a mid-credits scene, jumps forward in time to a group of tourists being shown the monument to the Hawes Farm (yes Harriet and Hawes settled down and had a family) by the very same angel who appeared to Hawes in the past… A sign that this story isn’t over? If the angel is back, then could a marauder still be alive? Hey, it’s not like Rene Perez hasn’t carved out sequel after sequel to his other films. Plus, at a stretch, you could say this is a prequel to Playing With Dolls – after all the killers all look similar.

Ultimately, if you’ve seen any of Rene Perez’s other films you know what you’re getting from The Legend of Hawes – a film that’s full of interesting ideas, made on a shoestring budget, with memorable villains. And great effects The rest of the film – the script, the acting, etc. might not be as up to par, but you could never say his films aren’t interesting!

*** 3/5

The Legend of Hawes is out now on DVD in the UK from High Fliers.


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