|Not the first, but certainly not the last clue|
From Dusk Till Dawn opens with the notorious Gecko brothers, Seth (George Clooney) and Richie (Quentin Tarantino), on the run from Texas Marshals on their way to the border. Richard broke Seth out of police custody, and the pair had left a trail of corpses in their wake ever since. This is partly because they are a couple of no-nonsense villains, but also because Richie is a bit of a psychopath and manufactures reasons to kill.
|They look like brothers, right?|
So...where are all the vampires? Hold on, they're coming. Once in Mexico, the crew arrives at the place where Seth is supposed to meet his contact; by morning, Seth and Richie will be on their way to their safety zone and Jacob will be free to take his two kids back home. The meeting place happens to be a strip club named the Titty Twister, which caters to bikers and truckers. The place is open from dusk until dawn, so it's the perfect spot for a fugitive to spend a few hours unwinding. Except everyone in the Titty Twister happens to be a vampire. Oops. The best laid plans...
|This scene makes me laugh every time|
For being a ridiculous vampire movie, the acting is surprisingly solid in From Dusk Till Dawn. This was George Clooney's first starring film role since he became famous in ER, so it's kind of interesting seeing this as his first step toward super-stardom. And he is very good here; he delivers Tarantino's dialogue naturally and fits the sleaziness of his character quite well. His role isn't perfect --- he's on the run and wears a leather vest, of all things, to blend in? --- but he is able to be a bad guy and a fairly charismatic character at the same time.
|Even if he has douchebag tattoos|
|Side note: I hate Tarantino's face|
|Nope. No problems here.|
Since this is a vampire movie, it is important to take a quick look at the creatures. This time around, they are normal-looking people who transform into hideous monsters.
|Danny Trejo, before transforming|
I really enjoyed the special effects in From Dusk Till Dawn. They don't really come up much in the first half of the film, but once people start vamping out, there is a ton of very cool makeup and practical effects in every scene.
Unfortunately, this isn't just an action/horror vampire story. In fact, the first half has very little action or horror at all. It's a crime yarn that makes a left turn and winds up in the unfamiliar territory of the supernatural action/horror sub-genre. I'm not complaining, mind you; both halves are very entertaining. However, the shift in tone, pacing, and style makes this feel like two separate films. I knew that going into this viewing, but the effect was still jarring. The first half feels like it could have been taken from leftover Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction scraps (I mean that in a good way), except for the fact that the most likable character (Seth) is obviously a complete bastard, instead of the usual cool-guy-that-does-bad-things type Tarantino usually creates. The second half doesn't play to Tarantino's strengths, as there is very little dialogue, and even less of it is clever. The action scenes are staged well, though, and Robert Rodriguez is able to keep the film entertaining, even as is shifts its focus.
|He kicks ass for the lord|
I'm not saying that From Dusk Till Dawn is a bad movie, but it is far from the best work of either Rodriguez or Tarantino. Objectively, this movie lacks solid pacing and focus. The writing is uneven, and the acting takes a back seat to the effects in the second half. It's fun, but a little empty. Of course, this film was never meant to be a critical darling. It feels less like a cool story that the filmmakers really wanted to tell and more like a couple of friends having a blast, making the type of movie that would have blown their minds as teenagers. In that, they are successful. This is silly, cheeky, gory, and absolutely ridiculous, which makes it very entertaining, warts and all.