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From Dusk Til Dawn (1996)

Directed by Robert Rodriguez Story by Robert Kurtzman Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino

  I often feel jealous when people can remember the first movie they ever saw in a theater or the first film that sparked their cinema flame. Knowing they wanted nothing more. I have always had a fascination with film and been fond of people within the industry who have evoked a certain emotion. I can however, remember a movie that made me fall reel hard for a duo that I have continued to be ever as fond of.

While Working finally on the set of Desperado and later directing separate segments in Four Rooms, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez were finally able to work as director and screenwriter/actor. Though Tarantino was considered to direct the film, he asked Robert to do so in order to focus on his character within. Honestly, I wish I still had my VHS of this film, if only for memories sake. There were days when I would watch this film, rewind it and watch it again and simply repeat the process. I loved the dialogue as well as the shooting style; starting a fifteen year appreciation of no matter how many times seeing this movie, never tiring of the interactions between the cast. Always just as humorous and action packed as my first time around.

The story follows the Gecko brothers Richie (Quentin) and Seth (George Clooney). Opening up to a seeming normal enough day for Pete, (John Hawkes) the liquor store clerk. He gets a visit from Ranger Earl McGraw (Michael Parks) who has a great long sequence of dialogue Quentin is known for using Parks for. The way Rodriguez used zooming the further into his speech he got. Chatting about the two brothers and the mockery of the department they have made, using the restroom before getting ready to depart. When the very same brothers referring to come forward from the back of the store, showing an obvious discernment for the Ranger being allowed to use the restroom. Richie, the malevolent bastard he is, ends up shooting the Ranger as the clerk attempts to defend himself and gets one shot right through his hand. Seth proceeding to shoot the bottles behind the counter and light the place on fire. Such a great opening sequence as Seth yells at Richie for not getting the map as told. They then drive to a motel where they remove a hostage from the trunk and settle into a room as they lay out the rules if wanting to survive the ordeal.

Jacob Fuller (Harvey Keitel) is seen with his family, daughter Kate (Juliette Lewis) and son Scott (Ernest Liu) while having breakfast near the same motel. As his son goes to the restroom Kate discusses with her father how someone had left a message from the church about his return. To which Jacob explained how he didn’t believe in God enough to become a pastor again since losing his wife. (cameo of Lawrence Bender; producer, can be seen in background table behind Kate) A news reporter (cameo by Kelly Preston) quickly sums up the history behind the brothers escape from jail showing their current death toll of 19 as we’re taken back to Seth returning to their motel room with food. Taking time before noticing that their hostage is no longer in sight, he confronts Richie on where she is, leading them to the bedroom where we are shown flashes of what had happened on account of Richie’s sick mind. His reality skewed by his innate inability to decipher between his deluded perversions that consumed his life.

Stopping at the same location to rest the Fuller family have a brief run-in with Seth upon first arriving. Cue to them barging in on the Fuller’s and letting them know of the predicament they happened to be in, informing them of assisting in getting them across the border. Taking time to learn more about the former pastor on their way to Mexico, Seth eventually making the promise that if Jacob abided by his rules for the night then he would let his family go scotch free. With the added permission that if his brother dared make a move on his daughter he had permission to kill him. A close call with the border patrol guard (Cheech Marin) occurs when he comes aboard their mobile home after hearing a thud, told that just him and his son were entering. The thud of which was Seth knocking out Richie before able to do anything to get them caught, propping him up while Kate gave the idea of just going to the restroom.

Their plan works as they head straight for the bar opened from dusk till dawn called The Titty Twister. They are greeted by Chet Pussy (Cheech Marin, once again) as he had 3 total roles in the film. Which surprisingly didn’t take away from the film, they were all different enough and both Robert and Quentin are known for bringing back characters and using them repeatedly. After a warming and funny intro for entering the club each brother takes it upon themselves to show their macho side; heading straight for the bar. A snarl from bartender Razor Charlie (Danny Trejo) and an explanation of leaving, being a bar that only tended to bikers and truck-drivers. Jacob informing him of his class 2 license that clearly defined him as a truck driver. Before they sit down we get a shot of Sex Machine (Tom Savini) displaying moves that will surely come in handy later using his whip to grab a beer from his buddy; cameo by Greg Nicotero. It seems Seth had not gotten over one of the bartender’s buddies putting his hands on him. Furiously pouring shots and saying how when he was finished he was going to break the bottle over his head. Jacob interjecting by asking:

 “Are you such a loser, you can’t tell when you’ve won? The entire state of Texas along with the FBI is looking for you, did they find you? No, they couldn’t. You’ve won Seth, enjoy it.”

   From this point on the movie takes a turn into a completely different movie that you wouldn’t see coming from anywhere. Another thing I found so great about this film. As it begins its clearly an action crime movie that follows these two malicious brothers. You assume that it will be just as such and then after crossing the border we see them enter a world of which they weren’t even sure existed but are now apart of it whether they liked it or not. Razor Charlie introduces Santanico Pandemonium (Salma Hayek) as she performs an ultra sexy dance of which she choreographed on her own. Having a fear of snakes almost prohibited Selma from taking the role but she underwent therapy to help with her phobia as well was teased by Robert that the part would be going to someone else. Which ended up being the push she needed. My eyes were certainly captivated as she moved her way directly to Richie and proceeded to pour alcohol down her leg into his mouth. Ending in an uproarious response as it seems Chet hadn’t forgotten about their first encounter, grabbing a couple of buddies and approaching the table to confront the brothers.

   Richie takes a stab to the same hand already haven been shot as they begin a brawl temporarily won. Hayek’s character cannot contain the sight of blood any longer as she transforms into a vampire; the blood being presented green so as to get past the censors. Consoling his brother in his last breaths he looks up to see that the entire staff begins transforming into the villainous creatures with all hell breaking loose. Limbs flying everywhere as the numbers are quickly diminished as to who will become the victor. Quickly getting rid of some of the main contenders its clear a group of four are not going to make being dinner as easy as the rest of the customers have. Seth, Jacob, Sex Machine and Frost (Fred Williamson) along with Jacob’s kids remain as Seth revisits his brother, apologizing for what had happened. Replying that he loved him too, he rises as Seth regrettable states before putting a stake through his heart that it is merely “a piece in death that he could not give him in life.” The survivors trying to take in what had just happened immediately after.

   They are comforted only by the screeching sounds of thousands of bats outside the bar with the mutilated bodies surrounding them beginning to rise. Working their way around Sex Machine is soon bitten but attempts to conceal it. Finally gathering to see if anyone could contribute factual knowledge to what had just happened. Seth letting it be known of not wanting to hear of not believing in vampires as he did not. But he believed what his eyes had just witnessed. Frost takes over the conversation as Sex Machine begins hearing noises beckoning him, taunting him as he is unable to prolong his metamorphosis and creeps behind Frost to bite him; thrown through a window. Overrun by bats, the rest find solace within a back room of the bar leaving Jacob behind to fend for himself, who had been bitten as well, gradually making his way to the same room. Though they devise a plan to take out as many of the vamps as could before Jacob turned. Resulting in the four tearing through the endless amounts of supplies in the room to gather weapons leading to an all out battle against the undead.

    Final Thoughts: I truly don’t feel as though this article does enough justice to how great a watch the film actually is. Or all the intricacies within that are unable to be accounted for from a simple article. Those behind the making of the film endured a lot to even get it done. Of which there is an edition of the film that comes with a behind the scenes flick entitled Full Tilt Boogie. Worth a watch as well lets you see a side of a “making of” that’s typically not shown. The set burned down which prolonged shooting, the workers endured several hardships being a non-union crew and it closely followed Clooney and Tarantino’s assistants being a pretty good full length movie in itself. The make-up designs for the vampires were superbly created as they in all actuality didn’t have nearly what appeared in numbers but made it work so well that you were unable to tell. Unless paying full attention to the background. Robert, being a very hands on director, got a lot of great shots from underneath the actors during shooting while in motion; generally overall.

   If I’m being honest I had never been too fond of Clooney’s work but took much delight in the fact that Robert turned him into an all-out bad ass. By far my favorite role of Savini’s though not as prominent a role as it may seem. The entirety of the film being greatness in my eyes as I actually do not have a complaint about anything. While there was a second and third installment that the duo were known for producing, it turned out to be an unfortunate mess. I enjoyed this installment start to finish as I tend to when it comes to this duo and am extremely sure of the fact that will continue to do such as long as they grace cinema with their takes on the different worlds and genres they unveil.