Penned by Tarantino, shot and edited by Rodriguez. (Rodriguez does so much stuff on his own films that I’m shocked he’s not responsible for craft services in addition to the ninety million things he does.)
Seth and Richie Gekko have some serious problems. Richie busted Seth out of prison and on their way to safe haven in Mexico, they’ve killed more than a handful of civilians and cops. Seth is the professional, pragmatic brother while Richie’s little more than a nutjob and a rapist, leaving big brother Seth to mop up the mess. The Fuller family is traveling around the States in a RV, mourning the loss of the wife and mother of the group, when they inadvertently cross paths with the Gekko brothers. Never one to pass up an opportunity, Seth uses the family as cover to get into Mexico and forces the family to stay overnight with him in a biker bar located in the middle of nowhere. It is there that the real scary stuff begins, seeing as how the bar staff has the tiny little problem of vampirism.
From Dusk ‘Till Dawn wasn’t the first script Tarantino wrote that had been directed by someone else; the script for Natural Born Killers fell to Oliver Stone, who made his version of Natural Born Killers, something Tarantino disowns. From Dusk ‘Till Dawn was in the hands of Robert Rodriguez, a close friend and Tarantino was on set playing Richie Gekko. The funny thing is that certain aspects of From Dusk ‘Till Dawn, such as the newscaster grinning as she counts up the bodies lining the Gekko Brothers’ path to freedom, still smack of Natural Born Killers.
Seth Gekko is in no easy situation. In a bar full of violent truckers, bikers and insane strippers, he has to corral his psycho younger brother who has his eye on young Kate and keep a lid on the nervous family who wants nothing more than to get away from the two brothers. Richie is the first victim of the vampires; he’s killed by a stripper named Satanico Pandemonium. Fun times. The rest of the bar almost nearly follows suit; it’s two bikers named Sex Machine (played by none other than Tom Savini) and Frost who survive the carnage along with Seth and the Fuller family.
And all I have to say is thank effing God it’s Tarantino that goes first. While he doesn’t do a terrible job in From Dusk ‘Till Dawn it’s no great shakes, either. Richie Gekko is equal parts pathetic and crazy, and while Tarantino plays that up, he shakes some of the QT mannerisms that make him stick out way too much. His speech patterns and rapid fire talking still single him out though, and that just means more George Clooney for the rest of us.
Not that George is all that great. He looks slightly hungover from playing Dr. Ross on ER. And Clooney’s been plagued by using that same headshake, those same speech inflections for every character for a long time. So um… basically, he’s prettier to look at. Yeah.
What starts out as an uncomfortable movie turns into a really fun B-movie flick (as long as you give it time to get going). Bloody, goopy and gory are probably the best words to describe the majority of From Dusk ‘Till Dawn. Harvey Keitel’s preacher struggling with a crisis of faith is about as real as you can expect from a movie that’s essentially a B-movie vampire flick. Juliette Lewis and Ernest Liu play his kids and Juliette Lewis is hands down the most memorable. Tom Savini easily has the most amount of fun with the movie, chewing scenery at every moment as his Sex Machine character. (And oh man, did I ever love Tom Savini before this movie. It’s worth it just to see Savini’s, uh, special gun.)
Rodriguez works in his own trademarks, like Danny Trejo as the bartender and Salma Hayek as Satanico Pandemonium. More than antyhing, once you get past the strange discomfort that the first thirty minutes brings (like, for example, the aftermath of Richie and a female hostage), From Dusk ‘Till Dawn is a really fun, amusement park ride of a movie. Sure, it’s a little cheesy but it’s also a hell of a lot of fun, too, especially since you get to watch George Clooney take out vampires with some sort of jackhammer and stake device.
Not Tarantino & Rodriguez’s best work, but it’s a nice movie to watch with a beer.