The vampire subgenre of horror is vastly complex, there’s the ultra-classic Universal style of Dracula [1931] to that of Dracula: Prince of Darkness [1966] the Hammer Studios creation, then the lead bloodsucker still wore his tuxedo in the late seventies and eighties, but the entire species started changing encouraging new bloodlines of vampiric lore. In the 1990s, over 35-vampie movies emerge, the classic retelling of Dracula [1992] to the comical Dracula Dead and Loving it [1995] to this very interesting production from two creative minds of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, all designed to splatter the bloodlust everywhere. Quentin at the time had the hot hand of writing incredible screenplays in short span of time he had True Romance [1993], Natural Born Killers [1994] and Pulp Fiction [1994], one thing which always stands out with his work is that is unconventional scripts and thoroughly undisciplined characters, rather making them freewheeling, taken to an extreme effect. Meanwhile Rodriguez uses a crime thriller setup before switching to a full-on blood and gore buffet to feast upon with divine pleasure. Then Robert contribution equally important as he picked up on delivering some exploitation moments, something he later explored in Planet Terror [2007], however he made sure to use the budget efficiently well, giving the horror fans what they desire from blood hungry beasts. One must not forget about how to create the story, which was Robert Kurtzman (The Rage [2007]) who also headed the special effects team for this production. While some cinema fans have sworn-off Dimension Films, because of who it had an association with, don’t let that effect your viewing pleasures, this was released in 1996, and I shall clearly state this review will have spoilers and some graphic (offensive) language which cannot be omitted.

Some critics, seem either upset or thoroughly confused by the storyline laid in the film, noting the crime spree thriller in the beginning, followed by the over-the-top sequence and more inane actions of the lead duo trying to reach El Ray, Mexico before encountering vampires. Wait, that’s the surprise, the vampires, the box art and trailer all show that, plus the summary on the DVD. There’s no sucker-punch, sheer set-up of a story, it’s very clear why they head to this all-night bar, they didn’t plan for the chaos to ensue, and it’s a wonderful mix of b-movie insanity and some measure of campiness; but nothing is misleading rather taking the wrong path in life can lead to dire situations. If you enjoy a film which fulfills a checklist of decapitations, excessive crude language and dialogue, dismemberments, gutting, tons of red and green vampiric blood, plenty of topless dancers and crazy looking rat beast, then this is your smorgasbord.

The story opens at Benny’s roadside convenience store with cashier Pete (John Hawkes (Scary Movie [1991])) and lawman (Michael Parks (The Evictors [1970])) having a calm chat, however lurking in the shadows behind an aisle is short tempered Seth Gecko (George Clooney (Return to Horror High [1987])) and his nutty brother Richie (Tarantino) holding firm control of hostages. However, playing it cool goes south very quickly, with a shootout occurring and Richie suffering a major hole in his hand; nothing whiskey and duck-tape can’t fix. They cruise to a motel near the border, just a few problems, law enforcement is after them, a small bank robbery a slew of injured and dead victims, and one FBI Agent Stanley (John Saxon (Black Christmas [1974])) in a cameo role is after them. Once again, another cameo role for Marc Lawrence (Hold That Ghost [1941], the motel manager, shortly afterward the audience learns of the true depravity of Richie as he’s left with a hostage. Meanwhile, Seth discovers a way to get across the border, a gauntlet challenge, thanks to an RV, driven by ex-preacher Jacob Fuller (Harvey Keitel) and his children Kate (Juliette Lewis (Ma [2019])) and Scott (Ernest Lieu). Soon they make their way to the infamous Titty Twister not without a few hiccups, there one is greeted by Chet (Cheech Marin), who gives an interesting menu rundown, and a sidenote also portrays a Border Guard and Carlos. Once inside the reminder of the movie stays in this location, a seedy bar filled with topless dancers, bikers, and truckers, all enjoying the pleasure, booze, and happiness. As the camera pans around, one notices both Tom Savini (Inhuman Resources [2012]) as Sex Machine with a strange pistol codpiece covered by a leather pouch and Fred Williamson (VFW [2019]) as Frost both who play important minor roles. Our merry bunch of travelers meet Razor Charlie (Danny Trejo (The Burning Dead [2015])), for some unpleasant chat, that Jacob resolves calmly.  Simply, without giving away too much of the second half of the flick, there’s the legendary dance from Santánico Pandemonium (Salma Hayek (The Faculty [1998])), and a twisted fetish moment of Richie toe sucking her while swallowing whiskey all as she holds a python around and balancing on one leg on the table – insane. After that scene, all hell breaks loose and the carnage reigns supreme, and fans rejoice with the non-stop action occurring in every direction.

By now with the numerous articles published to honor the anniversary of this movie, the story involving Salma Hayek and how Madonna was slated to replace the snake dancing scene. If not, here’s the actual breakdown, Salma truly has a real phobia of snakes, which is known as ophiophobia, and had refused to be near any of them, when reading the script she knew this would cancel her from the role, therefore Rodriguez informed her that Madonna was aiming for the role, this was all a ruse, She then submitted to therapy for nearly two months and overcame the fear, then once set she learned there was no choreographer, she needed to design a seductive dance and carry the Albino Burmese Python reticulatus with herself, all with slow movements not to upset the snake. All of it proving the director needed more than just the technical aspects to do their job, but also part psychiatrist and skilled manipulator, to have the actors do as told or wanted without push back. The special effects still hold-up very well to today’s standards and high-definition transfers don’t hinder the viewability nor the entertainment factors. A bit of trivia, first this was not George Clooney’s first feature film role, as others have stated, that would be Grizzly II: The Revenge [1983], a film which was only released officially in January 2021, in addition, as he worked on this movie, he was starring on the television drama ER, hence his neck tattoo needed to be removed and reapplied each day, thereby it was photographed and perfectly aligned as to not cause any continuity errors.  Another issue many criticize have is the script, more accurately the dialogue, it contains an edgy tone as if the conversing back and forth was a musical, and curious rhythm becomes apparent, though never taking away from the action. Some might notice there’s a pop-culture reference, black humor scattered throughout the film, and improvisations, namely when Seth is informed, he said “I’ll become a slave” he retorted with “No thanks, I’ve already had a wife” also, made into the final cut filled with elevated performances from everyone. However, some criticize Quentin’s acting abilities, as less than enjoyable, I thoroughly disagree, he’s portraying a psychopath, who believes in two things, his brother’s love and his own disillusions turned reality. Nevertheless, the filmmakers included a solid reference to the ultimate Dracula slayer Peter Cushing, very cool.

This vampire flick delivers what gore-hounds and splatterpunks lust for sheer fun violence between the creatures of the night and humans, thoroughly politically incorrect, and a body count of 122. Serious is not a word for this cult-classic flick, it’s not a film for all horror fans, a select few that enjoy stylish characters, a twisty storyline and plenty of almost cartoonish scenes, but never steps too far over the line. Therefore, take my advice and watch the film at least once, I’ve had the pleasure to see it in the theater in 2019, and enjoyed the featurettes and special insights extras, especially those concerning the daily wrap parties, very insightful. Lastly, the band Rammstein had their official video for the song “Engel” as homage to the movie, with many scenes matching the movie sequences.

TAGLINES:

  • A terrifying evil has been unleashed. And five strangers are our only hope to stop it.
  • Cheap drinks. Loud music. Vampires. This’ll be one hell of a night.
  • No Interviews.
  • From Quentin Tarantino. From Robert Rodriguez. From Dusk Till Dawn
  • The Showdown is on
  • One night is all that stands between them and freedom. But it’s going to be a hell of a night.
  • How far can Too Far go?

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116367/

IMDb Rating: 7.2

Baron’s Rating: 7.5

 

Followed by 

From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999) (Video)

From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter (1999) (Video)

Remade as 

From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series (2014) (TV Series)
TV Remake of this movie

https://www.amazon.com/Dusk-Till-Dawn-Blu-ray-Digital/dp/B08F6Y55VR/