From Dusk Till Dawn [retro review]

“The world’s my oyster, except for the fact that I just rammed a wooden stake in my brother’s heart because he turned into a vampire, even though I don’t believe in vampires.”

The Scoop: 1996, directed by Robert Rodriguez and starring George Clooney, Harvey Keitel and Salma Hayek.

Tagline: From Robert Rodriguez. From Quentin Tarantino. From Dusk till Dawn.

Summary Capsule: It’s the Bad versus the Evil: George Clooney’s ego and Mexico.

Justin’s Rating: Wha? Huh? Whe? Hm?

Justin’s Review: I like to have a little variety in my movie watching. Some days I watch PCU and Hudson Hawk; other days, I view Hudson Hawk and PCU. So it’s good that filmmakers are keeping up with my fast taste in filmgoing by presenting one cinematic presentation that’s two movies in one. Two for the price of one! And hunky George Clooney to boot! And a revolution in theology, which will all be explained later.

Movie One is about brothers Clooney and Quentin Tarantino (who has that child molester look down pat), who are in the lucrative movie field of killing and running from the law. They’re mean, they try to gain a filmgoing fan club by being too cool to be hateable, they crack into the family values market by kidnapping one. There’s the dad (an ex-pastor sporting a lot of frown lines), the daughter (Juliette Lewis, doing penance for her sins in Natural Born Killers), and the inexplicable Chinese son. Seriously, an Asian kid in the middle of this all-white family. Perhaps there was an explanation in the script, but I’m sure it didn’t make much sense.

Movie One is fairly dull and certainly nothing I haven’t seen before. QT’s mere presence makes me think of a low-rent Reservoir Dogs. Talk, talk, kill something, talk, talk. Movie One eventually ends up in an ugly bar in Mexico, where Salma Hayak steals the show during a slow dance sequence. And here the film changes into…

Wackyville! Goofyland! Halloween! Despite the overwhelming lack of foreshadowing, the plot takes an abupt twist as the staff of the bar turns into vampires and dines on the patrons. Just *poof*, oh by the way, we’re now in a horror movie with the Fanged Wonders. Yes, it makes no sense. And I don’t care, because frankly, Movie One was getting dull, and Movie Two begins with QT getting offed. The entire slaughter sequence (complete with good guys fighting back with various guns and chainsaws, as is the custom in Mexico) features top-notch special effects, as people morph into vampires (a precursor to Buffy) and vampires get staked and melt into fun carpet stains. It’s mindless violence (my mind was off getting a PhD somewhere), peppered with spicy bits of humor. Movie Two makes you seriously wonder why Movie One was even necessary to the non-essential plot.

But what I consider the high point of From Dusk Till Dawn is the sub-story of the ex-pastor (Harvey Keitel). There’s some vague explanation of how the death of his wife caused him to lose his faith. And of course, the Asian kid who just showed up one day, expecting to have room and board for free, and plays the drums to boot. Broken down and questioning his belief in the Almighty, the only thing that can restore his faith is (please shout it out with me) VAMPIRES! And George Clooney, who gives me the impression he’d make a really good drug dealer with all that small talk. Yup, no matter how foregone your faith is, an encounter with Dracula is enough to make you born-again again. I’m thinking we should employ the help of the undead to leap out during church services and scare up some more offerings.

So, I’d say rent this video, skip to the second hour, and enjoy with a glass of warm red… wine.

“Why did you bring wooden stakes? Aren’t we bank robbers?”
“Well, my friend, you never know.”

Intermission

  • Scott Fuller is wearing a T-shirt that says “Precinct 13,” a reference to Assault on Precinct 13. The dialogue between Kate and Seth while awaiting the final vampire attack (“use ’em on the first couple of these parasites that try to bite you”) is virtually word for word from Assault on Precinct 13.
  • The title of the film comes from the Titty Twister bar’s slogan.
  • References to previous movies that Quentin Tarantino has been involved with (Pulp Fiction, True Romance, and Reservoir Dogs): Kahuna Burgers (in the hotel room), Red Apple cigarettes (on the dashboard of the Geckos’ Cougar), Seth’s line to Harvey Keitel: “Okay ramblers, let’s get rambling.”
  • The gun that Sex Machine wields is one of the weapons found in El Mariachi’s guitar case in Desperado, also directed by Robert Rodriguez. Chongo beer (also from the earlier film) is available at the bar.

Groovy Dialogue

Seth: I know that I have put you through hell, and I know that I have been one rough pecker. But from here on, you are all in my cool book.

[The great “It really doesn’t answer the question, now does it?” dialogue]
Seth: So, what’s the deal with you two, you a couple of fags?
Jacob: He’s my son.
Seth: Yeah, how’d that happen? You don’t look Japanese.
Jacob: Neither does he. He looks Chinese.
Seth: Oh, well pardon me all to hell.

Kate: Are you okay?
Seth: Peachy! Why shouldn’t I be? The world’s my oyster, except for the fact that I just rammed a wooden stake in my brother’s heart because he turned into a vampire, even though I don’t believe in vampires. Aside from that unfortunate business, everything’s hunky-dory.

Kate: Where are we going?
Richie: Mexico.
Kate: What’s in Mexico?
Richie: Mexicans.

If you enjoyed this movie, try:

  • Reservoir Dogs
  • At First Bite
  • Out of Sight
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3 Comments

  1. This is a love it or hate it kind of film. If you love great dramatic acting and over the top horror satire, then this is the perfect film. If you only like one or the other, this movie is going to be so so at best. I really liked this movie, especially as a Tarantino fan, and I think it’s one of Clooney’s best performances ever.
    I also got the chance to review this flick on my new blog. I would love to get some feedback from another critic. Check it out if you can.

    http://horrormoviemedication.blogspot.com/2013/02/from-dusk-till-dawn-mexican-vampire.html

  2. Pingback: Reservoir Dogs | Mutant Reviewers From Hell

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