Movie Name: From Dusk Till Dawn
Studio: A Band Apart
Release Date(s): January 19, 1996
MPAA Rating: R
Seth Gecko (George Clooney) and his crazed paranoid brother Richard Gecko (Quentin Tarantino) are wanted by the law after a murderous robbery spree in Texas. Kidnapping a fallen minister named Jacob Fuller (Harvey Keitel) and his children Kate (Juliette Lewis) and Scott (Ernest Liu), to get across the border to Mexico, it appears that Gecko Brothers are home-free. Scheduled to meet their contact at a wild trucking bar called the Titty-Twister, the Geckos find that the bar is more than crazy…It’s a killer.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, From Dusk Till Dawn came out at the height of Tarantino and Rodriguez’s popularity in the ’90s. The movie received mixed reviews and was followed by From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money in 1998 and From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter in 1999 which was a prequel to the first film.
From Dusk Till Dawn kind of threw some people. Though the promos were pretty obvious, the first third of the film was a regular Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez crime thrill full of snappy dialogue and witty characters. It feels like most of their movies. For people who watched the trailers, they were wondering…where are the vampires? Once the Gekkos and the family get to the Titty-Twister it makes an abrupt turn and becomes a horror movie.
This strange balance is kind of the point of the movie, but it also is very jarring for the viewer who is never able to settle into either film. The lack of blending of the genres makes it feel like two separate undeveloped films. The action movie that is going at the beginning is cool, and the horror movie going at the end is cool…I just don’t know that it really worked what was attempted.
That being said, I still like From Dusk Till Dawn just because of this strangeness. It is full of fun actors like Cheech Marin who plays multiple characters throughout the film, and Rodriguez regulars Danny Trejo and Selma Hayek (with her great snake dance). Fred Williamson and FX master Tom Savini join the ranks of vampire slayers in the Titty-Twister and both have fun (including Williamson’s awesome intentionally cliché Vietnam speech which is cut short). Plus there are cameos by Kelly Preston and John Saxon in TV clips.
From Dusk Till Dawn’s special effects are fun and the vampire mess is an explosion of guts and blood. I really actually wished they pushed this issue farther by making it something like Dead-Alive which was so over-the-top bloody it became funny again. The movie is funny but if everyone was coated in blood and guts (really coated) by the end of the movie it would have been even better.
From Dusk Till Dawn is a fun film, but it is unbalanced. It could have been much better, and while watching it, I wish it was. It still is enjoyable and fun, but the rather abrupt ending just leaves you wanting more. Regardless what you think of the movie, it is worth seeing if nothing else for the great Titty-Twister set.