From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

from dusk till dawn poster 1996 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Fun characters, Titty-Twister set

Average crime meets average vampire movie

Movie Info

Movie Name:  From Dusk Till Dawn

Studio:  A Band Apart

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/Horror

Release Date(s):  January 19, 1996

MPAA Rating:  R

Crime, yada, yada, yada…get to the vampires (and one of the best sets).

Seth Gecko (George Clooney) and his brother Richie (Quentin Tarantino) are on the run.  Taking a fallen minister named Jacob Fuller (Harvey Keitel) and his children Katherine (Juliette Lewis) and Scott (Ernest Liu) as hostages, the Gecko Brothers are headed to Mexico to meet their contact at an out-of-the-way bar called the Titty Twister.  When the entertainment at the bar starts, all hell breaks loose, and Seth and the Fullers find themselves fighting alongside a man named Sex Machine (Tom Savini) and a Vietnam vet named Frost (Fred Williamson) against a horde of hungry vampires…and dawn is hours away!

Directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by Quentin Tarantino, From Dusk Till Dawn is a crime horror mash-up movie.  The film received mixed to positive reviews but quickly gained a cult fan base.

from dusk till dawn dance santanico pandemonium salma hayek

Dance like nobody’s watching…and everyone will watch

Like many, I couldn’t wait for From Dusk Till Dawn.  It was at the height of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez all-out 1990s love, and add to that a horror theme, and I was set.  I remember going to see it in college with a group of friends and having a fun time at that.  Having seen the film multiple times, it still has its moments and style, but the years of multiple “new-age” vampire movies and stories have hurt the core of the film a little.

New approaches to vampire films and stories really picked up with ’Salem’s Lot but exploded with movies like The Lost Boys and Near DarkFrom Dusk Till Dawn decided to insert a vampire movie in the middle of a Quentin Tarantino crime film loaded with clever talk and dialogue that isn’t typical for a bloodbath horror film.  Vampires were really booming in the 1990s and new and interesting ways to explore them were popping up everywhere.  From Dusk Till Dawn’s approach is interesting, but you could argue that in whole the crime part of the movie was slightly better than normal and the vampire part of the movie was slightly better than normal…but neither reached their potential level.

from dusk till dawn fred williamson frost vampire

Things just got ugly

The cast is great.  Clooney was still “the ER guy” at this point, but already building a name for himself, and you can see a lot of his future characters in Seth Gecko’s words and cadence.  Tarantino plays the gross guy (who is also foot obsessed so not a stretch) and Juliette Lewis reprises her “I like bad guys” role by kind of falling for Seth.  Harvey Keitel is much more mundane and reformed than some of his roles, but many of the scene stealers show up at the bar.  Effects master Tom Savini sports his crotch gun and gets to ham up his vampire transformation while Fred Williamson gets to be the bad-ass veteran.  Salma Hayek also steals scenes as the sexy dancer Santanico Pandemonium while Danny Trejo and Cheech Marin (in multiple roles) also fill out the cast.  The movie has cameos by Michael Parks, John Saxon, John Hawkes, and Kelly Preston as well.

from dusk till dawn sex maniac rat bat creature

Ok…that was unexpected

Stylistically, the movie gets the best of both worlds.  It has the slickness of a Rodriguez movie and Tarantino movie combined with scenes like the woman in the trunk and quick editing to stylize it, but it also has the fun of being a horror movie filled with bats and vampires.  Some of the morphing is dated a bit, but there is definitely special effects in other movies that haven’t held up as well as this film.

From Dusk Till Dawn still is one of those movies with memorable moments.  Overall, the talent involved makes me wish it was just a bit better, but it still is a fun ride.  The movie’s making was chronicled in the documentary Full Tilt Boogie, and From Dusk Till Dawn was followed by the straight-to-video From Dusk Till Dawn 2:  Texas Blood Money in 1999.

Related Links:

From Dusk Till Dawn 2:  Texas Blood Money (1999)

From Dusk Till Dawn 3:  The Hangman’s Daughter (1999)

Full Tilt Boogie (1997)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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