Friday, March 11, 2011

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)


From Dusk Till Dawn

The Stats

Director:  Robert Rodriguez
Writers: Quentin Tarantino & Robert Kurtzman
Actors:  George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Quentin Tarantino, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, Salma Hayek, Tom Savini, Fred Williamson
Producers:  Gianni Nunnari, Meir Teper
Cinematography:  Guillermo Navarro

Release Date: 1996
Run Time:  108 Minutes
Color:  Technicolor
Aspect Ratio:  1.85:1
Language:  English, Spanish

Did they look like psychos? Is that what they looked like? They were vampires. Psychos do not explode when sunlight hits them, I don’t give a fuck how crazy they are!

The Plot

Fugitive bank robbers, Seth and Richie Gecko, kidnap an ex-preacher and his two children to get across the border into Mexico to evade capture.  Ending up at an all night biker bar, they encounter an unholy surprise.

Analysis

From start to finish, this film is pretty much pure and complete insanity from the mind of Robert Rodriguez.  Half crime thriller and half vampire splatter-fest, this film pretty much never stops the action from beginning to end.

The fist half is a suspenseful crime film.  Everything is beautifully set-up and explained.  We get character backgrounds and exposition.  Who are the Gecko brothers? Why are they on the run? Who is the Fuller family? Why are they traveling cross-country? Why has the preacher lost his faith?  Then the two sets of families cross paths and the story really begins.  The two fugitive bank robbers take a family hostage to Mexico in an effort to escape U.S. justice. Then half-way through the movie… BAM! Vampires. It never apologizes for it’s ridiculousness and it’s fucking tremendous.

There in lies its brilliance.  It sets up a great story and gives you a ton of character development and almost throws it all out the window.  Except it really doesn’t.  All of the character development that was built up before the vampire slaughter still comes into play in the climactic moments of the film.  You do care for these characters.  Thanks in no small part also to the tremendous performances of George Clooney as Seth Gecko and Harvey Keitel as Reverend Fuller.  For those who have really only ever seen Clooney as the charming, debonair type, you really need to see him as Seth Gecko… a violent bad-ass.

On top of everything else, the vampire scenes are fun. Sometimes really goofy, but oftentimes incredibly violent.  The Make-Up Effects team did an incredible job with the vampire creature effects.  Interestingly enough, this film did the “bumpy forehead” vampire look BEFORE the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” series made it popular.

The Lowdown

From Dusk Till Dawn is half crime movie, half vampire movie… but all awesome.