Director: Robert Rodriguez
Screenplay By: Quentin Tarantino
Release Date: January 19, 1996
Run Time: 1 Hour, 48 Minutes
Is it cheating to call “From Dusk Till Dawn” a horror movie? Maybe. While it may be about vampires, the film is more concerned with action and humor before scares. But it is the exact kind of gore driven schlocky fun you want this time of year.
The story fallows Seth and Richard Gecko, sibling criminals who have just robbed a bank and are making their way to Mexico seeking asylum. They have a rendezvous with a man named Carlos at in out of the way bar called “The Titty Twister”. Their plan is to use a hostage from the bank robbery to get past the border, then after getting some “rest” at the Titty Twister, Carlos will take them to El Rey were the two men will live out the rest of their days as kings. Things are looking good for the two brothers when they stop for the night. The hostage is cooperating, the cops seemingly have no idea were they are, and it seems like, may just this once, crime will pay and pay handsomely. That all changes when Seth goes out to get food, and his truly disturbed brother Richie brutally rapes and kills the bank teller they had taken hostage.
This forces the two to look for another hostage. As luck would have it, another family is spending the night at the same motel, Jacob Fuller and his two children, Kate and Scott. Jacob is a faithless priest, taking to the road after the death of his wife. He and his two kids get in the R.V. And as also heading to Mexico. Their plans are a little more on the “family friendly” side of things, however. Seth sees the family after nearly being hit by the R.V. And decide to make them his new hostages. Sure enough, in no time at all, the five of them are on the road together, heading strait for the Titty Twister. After a pretty tense inspection at the border, the gang all make their way to their destination, and everything seems to be going okay. For a while, that is.
Due to Richie’s affinity for violence, a bar fight brakes out, where he gets stabbed in the hand, reopening a previous wound and causing him to bleed out. The smell of fresh blood makes the Titty Twister staff unable to hod their true forms any longer, and the bar is soon filled with vampires. It is then up too the five members of the gang, plus two more men, named “Sex Machine” and “Frost”, to kill the vampires and make it to the morning. Hopefully.
The issue of passing in monster movies always seems to draw some debate. Take for example the 2014 Godzilla movie. Some critics said the lack of the monster was akin to 1975’s “Jaws”, were not seeing the monster added to the tension. Others, myself included, said that that only works when there is still something going on through out the film. The issue with Godzilla is that nothing was going on the the second act of the movie. Here, that is not the case.
While there are literally no vampires on screen for the first hour, and while the movie seems to completely change style and tone after that point, it is still a very entertaining movie. While he may not have directed this one himself, if you know anything about Quentin Tarantino’s work, you’ll see his finger prints all over this film. Witch is a very good thing as the acting at time, mostly from the supporting cast, can come off as painfully amateurish at times. So, while the lines might not be said in the best possible way, at least they are not bad lines.
But like I said, this movie is less about scares and more about laughs. And the movie makes it a point of letting you know this at every chance it gets. From a fight using holy water filled condoms to a vampiric mariachi band that use guitars made from human remains. When you add Tarantino’s trade mark dialogue, you have the perfect recipe for a fun and gut busting film.
That extra hour were we get to know the characters is also nice to have once the shit and various other body parts hits the fan, as we had time to connect with the characters and care about their relationships. That way, when key cast members get killed off, it actually has some wight behind it. To use the “Godzilla” comparison again, I didn’t care about Aaron Johnson’s characters “heroic sacrifice” because I didn’t care about his character. Here I might not have liked a character, but I saw and understood their relationship to other characters, so I understood the pain of their loss. That is good film making, that is good story telling, that is what every storyteller should espier to do.
The stand out performances go to George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino as the Gecko bothers. Not only do the two of them work well with each other, but they each play their respective roles perfectly. Cloony is totally believable as the “professional criminal” who’s only interest is the score, and he sells the hell out of weight of having to deal with his brother, a serial rapist and murderer while still loving him the way families always seem to do. And Tarantino as Richie is truly one of the sickest characters the man has ever put to paper and his performance does it absolute justice. In fact, we wouldn’t see a character from his that was this evil, this vile and this well preformed until Leonardo DiCaprio’s Calvine Candie 16 years later.
The soundtrack is also very nice, especially once the gang inter the club with the “live” mariachi band. The songs they preform are very much worth a Liston. I don’t know much about mariachi music, but what’s here really does make me regret that.
So, yeah, final word: if you’re having an adults only part this Halloween, this is definitely something you should have running. Even if you only mean it to be background noise, it’ll probably end up pulling away most peoples attentions from the other activity’s.