From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

From Dusk Til Dawn is a tale of two movies, each battling for screen time. Like Grindhouse, this vampire story could have played out in a double feature. Instead the narrative is split into halves, the first is a hostage picture with strong dialogue, the second a horror movie with little talking and lots of visual mayhem. The former section works better than the latter half. The screenplay from scribe Quentin Tarantino is literate and overly violent, not surprising given the writer’s other works. The film’s main problem is in not providing a main character that is sympathetic or likable, the Gecko brothers are raging psychopaths.

Seth Gecko (George Clooney) and his delusional brother, Richard (Quentin Tarantino), are on the run for the law and heading south through Texas en route to the Mexican border. Seeking a cover to enter the Country they kidnap preacher Jacob Fuller (Harvey Keitel) and his family (Juliette Lewis), using their RV and inconspicuous appearance to throw off the border patrol.

Once into Mexico, the group rest at a seedy topless bar in the middle of nowhere. The watering hole also happens to be the nest and main feeding place for a gang of hostile vampires. Now, Seth and the other patrons must survive the night and fight their way out.

There is some minor value in witnessing Clooney, still sporting the Cesar haircut and embarrassing acting ticks/facial antics that were parodied during his stint on ER, playing a hardened criminal with murderous intent and little sense of humor. He takes a despicable person and actually makes you root for his survival. That’s also the strongest point of the admittedly simple-minded script as well. Rodriguez shows great energy and stylistic flare, but the party runs on for a bit too long. A loss of ten minutes in the second act would have made for a stronger film. Yet, for its flaws From Dusk Til Dawn represents an interesting collaboration from two of the 1990s most worshipped filmmakers.

Directors: Robert Rodriguez
Stars: George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis

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