Fright Fest 2018: From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Starring: George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, Quentin Tarantino, & Juliette Lewis
Written By: Quentin Tarantino
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez
Synopsis: On the run from a bank robbery that left several police officers dead, Seth Gecko (George Clooney) and his paranoid, loose-cannon brother, Richard (Quentin Tarantino), hightail it to the Mexican border. Kidnapping preacher Jacob Fuller (Harvey Keitel) and his kids, the criminals sneak across the border in the family’s RV and hole up in a topless bar. Unfortunately, the bar also happens to be home base for a gang of vampires, and the brothers and their hostages have to fight their way out.
“Now, that’s what I call a fucking show!” – Seth Gecko
From Dusk Till Dawn, a film that starts out as a gritty crime road movie and turns into a bat-shit crazy vampire flick? Yes, please! Until this review I had somehow managed to live my life without seeing this one. It’s crazy, I know.
As a huge genre fan, I had always been ashamed of the fact that I had yet to see this flick. However, I am glad that I waited. I have steeped myself in grindhouse films and schlocky B-movies, yet every time someone would tell me that I needed to take the time to watch From Dusk Till Dawn, I just wouldn’t do it. I don’t know why, I just wouldn’t.
I finally sat myself down and watched it and I was immediately hooked. Tarantino has a way with his writing. He has the ability to craft a cohesive story from two completely different things. In this case, a gritty crime drama that follows two brothers as they run for Mexico after robbing a bank, the film then turns into a vampire version of Evil Dead 2.
From Dusk Till Dawn is full of amazing dialogue which sucks you in. The opening scene alone with Michael Parks is phenomenal and our introduction to the Gecko brothers as they threaten the liquor store owner is top notch. Once Clooney begins speaking, you know fully who this guy is and you definitely do not want to screw with him. Yet, you love him instantly. You thoroughly love every character that graces the screen for that matter. You can see right from the film’s opening that From Dusk Till Dawn is something incredibly special.
Nothing is perfect however, despite the insanity and brutality of the “crime-drama” portion, it does seem to lag and drag a tad. I’m going to be honest, I was slightly bored. I enjoy grindhouse cinema and I loved the aesthetic of the film one hundred percent, it just felt like the film was taking too much time. In all honesty, I feel like it is because I waited so long to watch it in the first place. I knew going in that halfway through the movie it would turn into a vampire film. That’s pop culture for you. With all of the praise that the film has received, I was slightly let down. I went in expecting off the wall, crazy vampire action. I knew that there was a crime-drama element to the story but I figured that would take up at most the first fifteen to twenty minutes of the run time.
Despite finding myself checking the time a few times while waiting, I still found enjoyment. The acting in this film is pitch-perfect. Let’s face it, this has to be Tarantino’s best acting performance. George Clooney delivers a performance that is chilling and invigorating. You want this asshole to make it to Mexico and when the shit hits the fan you want him to kick some ass. There is a reason that I opened this review with a quote from his character. The quote I chose defines this movie. Clooney delivers one hell of a show.
From Dusk Till Dawn is littered with character actors that make you smile when they come on screen.
When the vampires do appear, the film turns itself up to eleven and we get to witness amazing practical effects. If there is anything I could say negative about this portion of the film, it is the dated CGI. There isn’t a lot, at least not that I noticed. The filmmakers stick mostly to practicals and it works really well with the zany vibe that From Dusk Till Dawn carries. It reminded me a lot of Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 with how cheesy but stunningly brilliant the practical effects were in this film.
I made a huge mistake not watching this sooner. I will definitely recommend this to those who haven’t seen it, especially if you have only heard the name. If you know what the film is but haven’t seen it, go in with the knowledge that the film takes it’s time. It takes you along for a fun ride. Remember, even the funnest roller coasters have their lulls. Go check this one out!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
My name is Joshua Macmillan, I am an author of horror and dark fiction. My first publication is a short story within the 13:Night Terrors anthology published by Limitless Publishing! I am currently working on my first novel and plan to have as many short stories published as possible while I work on the novel! I look forward to hearing from you guys! You can find me on Facebook and Twitter, as well as email @ email@example.com
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Nice review and I love this movie. What the hell took you so long to watch it….lol
October 18, 2018 at 8:38 pm
From Dusk Till Dawn never fully clicked with me. I was surprised I didn’t enjoy it more because I’m a big fan of both Rodriguez and Tarantino. Plus, I love this cast.
When all was said and done, I felt Tarantino’s kitsch-cool writing style interfered with what was otherwise a solid vampire story. I know for a lot of fans that’s the very element that made this movie special, but I don’t think the crime story and the horror elements meshed in a satisfactory way. I never connected with it the way I did with the story and characters in movies like Near Dark or Fright Night. For the record, I had a similar issue with The Lost Boys. Good vampire story, but I felt too removed from the human characters.
I will say, though, everyone should check out Full Tilt Boogie, the documentary feature about the making of From Dusk Till Dawn. That movie is a blast.
October 20, 2018 at 12:15 pm