The Dead Sleep Easy Lee Demarbe

The Dead Sleep Easy Lee Demarbe
Directors like Lee Demarbe (of Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter infamy) must get tired of constantly hearing critics compare their low-budget, grindhouse-style movies to the higher profile films of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, who also recycle old exploitation movie clichés into sleek new entertainment. Then again, sometimes the comparison is unavoidable. Consider The Dead Sleep Easy, a Mexican-set wrestling picture — how many of those do you see anymore? — with the sun-drenched milieu of a '60s biker movie crossed with a spaghetti western, coupled with a faux-Ennio Morricone score and dialogue laced with obscure, Tarantino-friendly film references. "The Champ" (Ian Hodgkinson, aka Thunder Bay wrestler Vampiro) is an American wrestler who, after his career in the ring in Mexico comes to an end, becomes entangled in the dirty dealings of the Mexican mob, witnessing a mob-endorsed massacre and vowing vengeance. Budgeted at less than $250,000, this shot-on-digital Canadian effort is still no-frills enough to make one wonder where all the money went. Demarbre is unable to evoke a particularly vivid atmosphere from his skuzzy settings and the twisty, time-shifting plot would be easier to become engaged by if "the Champ" weren't such an underdeveloped, macho caricature (or if the acting wasn't uniformly hammy). Exploitation movie buffs might have some fun with the copious violence, testosterone and enough cocaine to kill a goat but for everyone else, The Dead Sleep Easy will play less like Once Upon a Time in Mexico than the undernourished cousin of Hell Ride. The DVD from Anchor Bay contains some deleted scenes, trailers and an uneventful gag real but a real opportunity was missed by not commissioning a making-of documentary or a commentary by Demarbe, who might at the very least have offered some interesting stories about filming this low-budget curio. (Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada/Sound Venture/Zed Filmworks)