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From Dusk Till Dawn - 1996

From Dusk Till Dawn - 1996

Director(s): Robert Rodriguez

Writer(s): Quentin Tarantino (screenplay) / Robert Kurtzman (story)

Cinematography by: Guillermo Navarro

Editor(s): Robert Rodriguez

Cast: George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Salma Hayek, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, Tom Savini, Fred Williamson and Michael Parks

Review:

In 2019 we have the return of both Robert Rodriguez, Alita: Battle Angel, and Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, making me want to revisit one of the most famous collaborations; From Dusk till Dawn. With a crazy script from Tarantino, and the bombastic action style of Rodriguez - this film makes for a fun re-watch and one of my favorite movies within the cult-classic genre. Let's talk about it.

The story follows a pair of brothers that are fugitive bank robbers Seth and Richie Gecko (Clooney, Tarantino). On their way to Mexico, they kidnap the Fuller family - the dad, Jacob (Keitel) a retired pastor, the daughter, Kate (Lewis) and the son, Scott (Liu), all dealing with the recent passing of their mother. Once they reach Mexico, they stop at a bar called Titty Twister, since this is the meetup location for their contacts that will escort them to the criminal sanctuary at El Rey. Unfortunately for the Geckos and the Fullers, Titty Twister is not your run of the mill trucker bar; it is vampire hub. And now they are in a fight for their lives.

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Quick note: in a film about essentially, criminals versus stripper vampires, the least believable aspect of the film is that Quentin Tarantino is part of the same gene pool George Clooney came from.

There are two movies within this runtime, and I love both of them; the first half of the story plays out like a Tarantino film. The opening shot of the store clerk talking to the police officer, exploration of Richard, played by Tarantino off course, sick perverted tendencies. The conflict of ideas and personalities between Seth and Richard make for a compelling conversation that is elevated by the excellent performance by Harvey Keitel of a broken man trying to keep the family he has left alive. The second half Rodriguez takes over, as the vampires reveal themselves and all hell breaks loose inside the bar. The practical effects are fantastic as always, with over the top explosions, gunplay (including a crotch gun belt), and hand to hand combat between the surviving bar patrons and the vampire strippers.

Quick note: SPOILER **this half kills Tarantino's character, as the film shifts to Rodriguez' tone and pace**SPOILER OVER.

As for the acting, everyone is great, and Tarantino is fine(ish). Clooney prior to 1996, was solely known as the guy from ER, so this role was him breaking that stereotype. Playing the lead role, but as a tatted-up criminal, that is more than comfortable killing and robbing his way through the states with his serial killer/rapist brother, was a bold choice, but it works as he is cool, calm and collected - even when faced with his pending doom. Keitel, as mentioned above, is given the meatier role, and he steps up to the challenge. Juliette Lewis plays the same teenager she did in Cape Fear, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, and The Basketball Diaries - if it isn't broke don't fix it. Salma Hayek is campy and sexy as the lead vampire, and I wish the film had more of her. And Tom Savini as Sex Machine (what else), is fun and commands the screen. He is best known as make-up (Friday the 13th) and practical effects (Dawn of the Dead) guru, but he more than holds his own in this cast.

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From Dusk Till Dawn knows precisely the type of film it is, and never shies away from the story, they want to tell. This film has a retractable dick gun, Cheech Marin playing three parts, and Fred Williamson punching vampire women left and right. It is campy, bloody, and funny and I never get tired of watching this madness unfold.

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From Dusk Till Dawn is Why I Love Movies.

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