From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
February 21, 2016 1:26 PM - Subscribe

Two criminals and their hostages unknowingly seek temporary refuge in an establishment populated by vampires, at time when Quentin Tarantino was still cool, George Clooney wasn't an established star, and Danny Trejo was just "oh yeah that guy!" Bloody mayhem ensues.

NYTimes: The vampire western "From Dusk Till Dawn" raises more than the usual curiosity about who will come back from the dead. Quentin Tarantino, last seen doing himself serious harm in "Four Rooms," wrote this film's screenplay and plays a starring role. Robert Rodriguez, who made the only watchable "Rooms" segment after the fiery but uneven "Desperado," tries directing his most ambitious feature.

And George Clooney, whose previous feature film credits include "Return of the Killer Tomatoes," goes from television stardom on "E. R." to another try at leading-man stature on the big screen. Not many television actors make the transition easily, but not many look this much like Cary Grant.

So "From Dusk Till Dawn" has the feeling of high-stakes poker. And for a while it even holds a winning hand. Certain ground rules apply: This is violent, profane film making, just as "Pulp Fiction" was, and it revels in pitch-black satire that delights in meanness and mayhem. Much of Mr. Tarantino's sharpest dialogue involves gun-related threats, as when Mr. Clooney tells a hostage not to flee "because I got six little friends and they can all run faster than you can." For his part, Mr. Rodriguez has made his trademark the sight of unperturbed heroes walking away from burning buildings without looking back.

Consequence of Sound: As a genre experiment, From Dusk Till Dawn is fascinating in how cleanly it divides the unique aesthetics of both its auteurs into distinct halves. The first section is a tense, crime drama about the bank-robbing Gecko brothers, Seth (George Clooney) and Richie (Tarantino), sneaking across the border to freedom after a crime spree, with an innocent family of hostages in tow. Forty-five minutes in, Dawn takes a hard left turn into Crazyville when our heroes find that the Mexican bar they’ve holed up in is a trap for vampires to lure and kill unsuspecting humans. There’s no foreshadowing, no TV reports in the distance, not a word about blood-sucking ghoulies — until Salma Hayek’s head whips back to morph into a grotesque snake-like creature (courtesy of creature-effects powerhouse KNB Effects Co.) and starts chewing into Quentin Tarantino’s neck. Bam.

Roger Ebert: This is one of those movies you might like or you might hate, but you won't be able to deny its crazy zeal. Actually, a lot of people will hate half of the movie and like the other half. Those who loved the invention of Tarantino's dialog in "Pulp Fiction" will like the first half, especially a brilliant pre-title sequence featuring Michael Parks as a Texas Ranger who creates a whole world out of a little dialogue. Those who liked the shoot-outs in Rodriguez's "El Mariachi" and "Desperado" will like the second half, which is non-stop mayhem in a scuzzy bikers' and truckers' strip joint, with lots of vampires, exploding eyeballs, cascading guts, and a weapon made out of a powered wooden stake (I guess you could call it a Pneumatic Vampire Drill).

Happy Twentieth Anniversary, From Dusk Till Dawn

20 things you didn't know about From Dusk Till Dawn


Movie at DailyMotion
posted by MoonOrb (17 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I was roped into watching this movie by friends. Exactly one of us had seen it before, the rest knew nothing. The drinking game they proposed was the following: "Drink when something happens that would never actually happen." Which was plenty for the first half, and then Salma Hayek showed up...
posted by BungaDunga at 4:39 PM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

I just don't think Tarantino took the horror half of the screenplay nearly as seriously. Consider that in the first half, we see that Clooney's character has been covering for his brother's sadistic sexually-charged murders. Then, in the second half, Tarantino's character is turned into a vampire and his brother essentially says, "Welp, can't have him hurting people! Let's put him down." I think that second situation was intended as a supernatural repeat of the real world situation, causing our hero to realize his responsibility toward stopping his brother's violence. But I don't think they developed that enough to sell it AT ALL.

On the other hand, this exchange is one of the funniest things I have ever seen on film.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:58 PM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Another film that convinced me that Tito Larriva, the band leader in the film, has had one of the most interesting careers in history. Seriously, look him up. It's amazing.
posted by maxsparber at 7:31 PM on February 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

This was the first R-rated movie I saw legally.

I'm a peaceful conflict-avoidant kinda guy, but I have always harbored the fantasy of responding like Clooney to the angry biker when they first get to the Titty Twister.
Big Emilio almost magically appears behind Seth and places 

		Walk, pendejo.

Seth slowly turns his eyes to the big hand on his shoulder.

		Take your hand off me.

		I'm going to count to three.

		No, I'm going to count to three.



posted by infinitewindow at 7:59 PM on February 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

So strangely enough I saw this movie when I was doing a semester abroad in England. So my friends and I saw it in a theater where we could have wine or beer, which is a definite advantage. There are so many brilliant one liners clooney's "No thanks I was already married" the introduction of Sex Machine, cheech Marin's "pussy" monologue. It's a great movie where you leave your brain at the door and just enjoy some crazy fun.
posted by miss-lapin at 4:19 AM on February 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

That super-high-waisted bikini, tho.
posted by ftm at 5:51 AM on February 22, 2016

This movie really soured me on Tarantino; I had really, really enjoyed both Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction and for the first half of this, I was completely on board. The second half felt too jokey, and as a whole it never really came together for me, and I left thinking that Tarantino was a bit too high on himself and his reputation. Everything subsequent to that hasn't really changed my opinion.
posted by nubs at 7:18 AM on February 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ehhhh, nubs, if you take into account the context of how this movie got made, I doubt you'd judge Tarantino for it.

Here's how this movie got made...

Tarantino had a few scripts going around that had not been bought, but were being talked up in some corners. He hadn't yet directed Reservoir Dogs or any other proper features. The three guys behind the KNB special effects team had a story for a horror movie and hired Tarantino to write it, a gig he promptly took because he wasn't really working yet and being paid is great. The script he wrote wasn't really to anyone's total satisfaction (because let's face it, which horror movie producers are going to bank a movie whose first half contains zero horror and whose second horror needs a sizable budget) and the KNB guys couldn't get money to make it, so it was pretty much forgotten about. A few years later, Pulp Fiction effectively set the world on fire and the KNB guys found it was pretty easy to get money for their side project horror movie if they referred to it as "Unproduced Tarantino Screenplay!" Tarantino didn't want to make it, so they hired his friend Robert Rodriguez.

So viewing this as the third step in Tarantino's progression, and a misstep at that is getting it all backwards. He wrote this years before the other movies of his you probably like. And it was based on a story he didn't come up with. And then it was directed by someone else.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:44 AM on February 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Also, my understanding is that Tarantino had to be coaxed into doing even a token rewrite by offering him the role of Richie.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:45 AM on February 22, 2016

Thanks DirtyOldTown for the clarifications; it certainly helps explain why this movie feels like such a hot mess. It's not going to do much about my opinion on Tarantino overall; like I say, I enjoyed Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, but there hasn't been much since then that has really connected with me, with a bit of an exception for Inglourious Basterds, and I'm not sure how much of that was the performance of Christoph Waltz in the movie.

Anyways, I don't want to turn this thread about criminals running into vampires into a retrospective on Tarantino's work.
posted by nubs at 9:01 AM on February 22, 2016

The main sin for me with this movie is Tarantino the actor. He is an irretrievably terrible actor. His performances in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction didn't give much of a glimpse of how terrible he is, but here it's plain to see. He should never, ever, under any circumstances be allowed to appear on-screen for any reason whatsoever.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:07 AM on February 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

At least in this and Django he had the good taste to kill himself onscreen.
posted by maxsparber at 9:08 AM on February 22, 2016

(And yeah, this thread should be about this horror movie, not the career of its screenwriter. BUT... True Romance and Natural Born Killers were also victims to varying degrees of the "Hey, don't we own a script by this Tarantino guy?" syndrome. The former was reputedly an artfully nonlinear movie in the Pulp Fiction-mode that director Tony Scott "fixed" though it still has its charms. And then there's NBK, which Oliver Stone went and Oliver Stoned all over. Neither of those end products should be rightfully considered Tarantino's doing either. I'm not a huge fan of his latter work, either, but even so, people scrambling to make altered versions of his script-for-hire work shouldn't be judged side by side with his self-written&directed projects.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:30 AM on February 22, 2016

It should be noted that the making-of documentary, "Full Tilt Boogie" is really good.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:52 AM on February 22, 2016

This movie! I saw it in the theater and about 2/3rds of the way through, the film for whatever reason melted and burned right off the projector, leaving a blank white screen, and nobody in the theater moved or said anything for about three whole minutes -- until the house lights came up -- because everyone thought it was part of the movie. So, a hot mess, definitely, but a completely successful and awesome hot mess imo.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 2:26 PM on February 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Some great moments here and there. "Low profile. Do you understand the meaning of the words 'low profile'?"
posted by Zonker at 3:26 PM on February 22, 2016

"What were they: psychos?"

"Did they look like psychos? Psychos do not explode when sunlight hits them. I DON'T GIVE A FUCK HOW CRAZY THEY ARE."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:34 AM on March 2 [1 favorite]

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