From Dusk Till Dawn
|From Dusk till Dawn|
|Directed by||Robert Rodriguez|
|Produced by||Gianni Nunnari
|Screenplay by||Quentin Tarantino|
|Story by||Robert Kurtzman|
|Music by||Graeme Revell|
|Editing by||Robert Rodriguez|
|Studio||A Band Apart
|Distributed by||Dimension Films|
|Release date(s)||January 19, 1996 (1996-01-19)|
|Running time||108 min.|
From Dusk till Dawn is a 1996 American action horror film directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by Quentin Tarantino. It stars Harvey Keitel, George Clooney, Tarantino and Juliette Lewis. Although not very successful at the box office, the film has achieved cult status.
The film was followed by two direct-to-video follow-ups, a sequel, From Dusk till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money and a prequel, From Dusk till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter. They were both received poorly by critics. Danny Trejo is the only actor to appear in all three, although Michael Parks appears in both From Dusk till Dawn and The Hangman’s Daughter. Rodriguez, Tarantino and Lawrence Bender served as producers on all three movies. In late 2010 it was reported that a possible fourth film in the series may be produced.In late 2013 it was reported that a television series inspired by the film will be written, produced and directed by Rodriguez. The show will explore and expand on the characters and story from the film, providing a wider scope and richer Aztec mythology. The show is planned to broadcasted by Rodriguez’s incoming channel El Rey.
Two brothers Seth (George Clooney) and Richard “Richie” Gecko (Quentin Tarantino), wanted by the FBI and Texas police for a bank robbery that has left several people dead, stop at a liquor store with the intent of just picking up a state map, but the psychotic Richie kills Ranger Earl McGraw (Michael Parks) and the cashier (John Hawkes) and burns the store down. During the gunfight, Richie is shot in his left hand.
The Geckos are heading towards Mexico, where a contact has arranged a safehouse for them. Along the way they stop at a motel and it is revealed that they had been keeping a bank teller (Brenda Hillhouse) in their car trunk as hostage. While Seth goes out to buy some food, Richie brutally rapes and murders the teller, which infuriates Seth when he returns.
Meanwhile, Jacob (Harvey Keitel), a pastor who is experiencing a crisis of faith, arrives at the same motel with his daughter Kate (Juliette Lewis) and his son Scott (Ernest Liu). Realizing that the family’s RV can be used to get them across the border, the brothers kidnap the family, making a truce that if they can make it past the border, Jacob and his family will not be harmed. When the RV reaches the Mexican border, the Gecko brothers hide in the bathroom with Kate, to ensure Jacob will not say anything to the cops or border guard (Cheech Marin). After successfully reaching Mexico, they arrive at the “Titty Twister”, a strip club/brothel in the middle of a desolate part of Mexico, to meet their contact Carlos at dawn. Seth and Richie brutally beat up the doorman to the club, Chet Pussy (Cheech Marin), when he tries to deny the group entry.
Inside, Seth and Richie drink heavily, encouraging the entire group to do the same. Richie takes special notice of the club’s star performer, Santánico Pandemónium (Salma Hayek) during an extended solo performance, after which Chet Pussy and some others approach the group, looking to settle the score with the Geckos. In a short confrontation, Richie is stabbed in his already wounded hand, and seeing his blood, Santánico attacks him, undergoing a transformation into a horrific vampire, and bleeds him to death before she meets her own end.
Chaos subsequently ensues as the employees, the strippers and the house band (Tito & Tarantula) are all revealed to be vampires. One of the dancers locks the door, and the vampires start feeding on all bar patrons. Only Seth, Jacob, Kate, Scott, a biker named Sex Machine (Tom Savini) and a Vietnam veteran trucker named Frost (Fred Williamson) survive the attack and quickly establish an alliance in order to survive through the night. Seth convinces the group that Jacob is their best weapon, if he rediscovers his faith, and they also figure out how forming a cross with two objects helps fend off the vampires.
The slain patrons, including Richie, suddenly reawaken as vampires, forcing the group to kill them all. During this second struggle, one of the vampires bites Sex Machine’s arm. While the group is listening to Frost recount an event from his days in Vietnam, Sex Machine transforms into a vampire and bites both Frost and Jacob before being tossed through a boarded up window, which allows many other vampires, in the form of bats, to enter. Seth and the Fullers retreat to a storeroom and improvise anti-vampire weapons from supplies left by prior victims of the bar. The four stage their final assault on the vampires, their weapons proving effective in destroying many of the creatures. During the battle, Sex Machine is killed by Kate and Jacob slays the vampiric Frost. Jacob transforms, but Scott is hesitant to kill him and gets bitten. He manages to dispatch his father and is dragged down by other vampires. Kate follows the wishes of her brother and kills him, also destroying his attackers.
As the sun rises, only Seth and Kate remain alive, surrounded and low on ammunition. Just then, sunlight breaks through the bullet-holes in the bar walls and burns the vampires. Seth and Kate shoot out more holes, which allows them to survive until Carlos and his guards show up. They open the doors, and the sunlight reflects on the bar’s disco ball, killing the rest of the creatures while Seth and Kate flee outdoors as the Titty Twister explodes. Safely outside, Seth confronts a bewildered Carlos (Cheech Marin). Angry over the deaths of Richie, Jacob and Scott, Seth demands that Carlos lower his 30% take for his stay in El Rey and telling them to wait in the bar, to which Carlos reluctantly agrees. Kate offers to accompany Seth, but he declines and gives her some cash before they go their separate ways.
After Kate drives the RV away, the camera pans back to reveal that the “Titty Twister” bar is the top of an Aztec temple partially sunk into a valley wall, most likely the source and true home of the vampire monsters who’ve been spreading their curse for centuries, with many abandoned motorbikes and trucks from their past victims littering its grounds.
- George Clooney as Seth Gecko
- Quentin Tarantino as Richard “Richie” Gecko
- Harvey Keitel as Jacob Fuller
- Juliette Lewis as Kate Fuller
- Ernest Liu as Scott Fuller
- Salma Hayek as Santánico Pandemonium
- Cheech Marin as Border Guard / Chet Pussy / Carlos
- Danny Trejo as Razor Charlie
- Tom Savini as Sex Machine
- Fred Williamson as Frost
- Michael Parks as Texas Ranger Earl McGraw
- Brenda Hillhouse as Hostage Gloria Hill
- John Saxon as FBI Agent Stanley Chase
- Marc Lawrence as Old Timer Motel Owner
- Kelly Preston as Newscaster Kelly Houge
- John Hawkes as Pete Bottoms (liquor store cashier)
- Tito & Tarantula as The Titty Twister House Band
References to other titles
Earl McGraw became a recurring character in Rodriguez and Tarantino’s works, later appearing in Kill Bill, Planet Terror and Death Proof. Chango Beer and Sex Machine’s codpiece gun are references to Rodriguez’s 1995 film Desperado. Seth also returns to the hotel with Big Kahuna Burgers which were used in Pulp Fiction.
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From Dusk till Dawn employed a non-union production crew, which is unusual for a production with a budget above $15 million. Rodriguez, Tarantino and Bender defended this choice because it made for a more team-like atmosphere on the set instead of people having to stick to their certified jobs. Yet the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts targeted the production for strike action seeking to shut down filming, feeling that the film was a large enough production to warrant a unionized crew. This issue is covered in the making-of documentary Full Tilt Boogie featured on the film’s DVD.
Critical reception for From Dusk till Dawn was mixed to positive, earning a Rotten Tomatoes approval rating of 64%.
Roger Ebert gave it three out of four stars and described it as “a skillful meat-and-potatoes action extravaganza with some added neat touches”. In her review for The New York Times, Janet Maslin wrote, “The latter part of From Dusk till Dawn is so relentless that it’s as if a spigot has been turned on and then broken. Though some of the tricks are entertainingly staged, the film loses its clever edge when its action heats up so gruesomely and exploitatively that there’s no time for talk”. Entertainment Weekly gave the film a “B” rating and Owen Gleiberman wrote, “Rodriguez and Tarantino have taken the let-’em-eat-trash cynicism of modern corporate moviemaking and repackaged it as junk-conscious ‘attitude.’ In From Dusk till Dawn, they put on such a show of cooking up popcorn that they make pandering to the audience seem hip”. However, in his review for the Washington Post, Desson Howe wrote, “The movie, which treats you with contempt for even watching it, is a monument to its own lack of imagination. It’s a triumph of vile over content; mindless nihilism posing as hipness”. Cinefantastique magazine’s Steve Biodrowski wrote, “Whereas one might reasonably have expected that the combo of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez would yield a critical mass of nuclear proportions, instead of an atomic fireball’s worth of entertainment, we get a long fuse, quite a bit of fizzle, and a rather minor blast”. In his review for the San Francisco Chronicle, Mick LaSalle called the film, “an ugly, unpleasant criminals-on-the-lam film that midway turns into a boring and completely repellent vampire ‘comedy.’ If it’s not one of the worst films of 1996 it will have been one miserable year”. In Marc Savlov’s review for the Austin Chronicle, he wrote, “Fans of Merchant-Ivory will do well to steer clear of Rodriguez’s newest opus, but both action and horror film fans have cause for celebration after what seems like a particularly long splatter-drought. This is horror with a wink and a nod to drive-in theatres and sweaty back seats. This is how it’s done”.
Awards and nominations
|MTV Movie Award||Best Breakthrough Performance||George Clooney||Won|
|Saturn Award||Best Actor|
|Best Horror or Thriller Film|
|Best Director||Robert Rodriguez||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor||Harvey Keitel|
|Best Supporting Actress||Juliette Lewis|
|Razzie Award||Worst Supporting Actor||Quentin Tarantino|
|Stinkers Bad Movie Awards||Worst Supporting Actor|
The soundtrack features mainly Texas blues by such artists as ZZ Top, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimmie Vaughan. The Chicano rock band Tito & Tarantula, who portrayed the band in the Titty Twister, appears on the soundtrack as well. The film’s score is by Graeme Revell. “Dark Night” by The Blasters plays over the film’s opening credits.
A video game of the same name was released in 2001. It is based on events that transpire directly after the end of the film.
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- Cult Classic: From Dusk Till Dawn, by Emmet Purcell JOE.ie
- “Miramax From Dusk Till Dawn Series DVD Review”. Video Vault. Retrieved 2012-03-03.
- “Audience & Critic Reviews – From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money”. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2008-10-21.
- “Audience & Critic Reviews – From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter”. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-03-03.
- Block, Alex Ben (December 16, 2010). “Weinstein Co., Miramax Ink Deal to Produce Movie Sequels”. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2012-03-05.
- Ebert, Roger (January 19, 1996). “From Dusk Till Dawn“. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
- Maslin, Janet (January 19, 1996). “Enough Blood to Feed The Thirstiest Vampires”. The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
- Gleiberman, Owen (February 2, 1996). “Monster Mishmash”. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
- Howe, Desson (January 19, 1996). “Quentin’s Dusk: Hurry Up Dawn”. Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
- Biodrowski, Steve (June 1996). “From Dusk Till Dawn“. Cinefantastique. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
- LaSalle, Mick (January 19, 1996). “Tarantino Continues to Stumble in ‘Dusk’”. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
- Savlov, Marc (January 19, 1996). “From Dusk Till Dawn“. Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
- “1996 RAZZIE® Nominees & “Winners” – The Official RAZZIE® Forum”. Razzies.com. Retrieved 2012-06-26.
- “1996 19th Hastings Bad Cinema Society Stinkers Awards”. Stinkers Bad Movie Awards. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
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- From Dusk till Dawn at the Internet Movie Database
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- From Dusk till Dawn at Box Office Mojo
- From Dusk till Dawn at Rotten Tomatoes
- From Dusk till Dawn at Metacritic
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