From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

DailyView: Day 131, Movie 204

Written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Robert Rodriguez, today’s DailyView is the schizophrenic thriller, From Dusk Till Dawn.

Two escaped convicts, Seth (George Clooney) and Richard (Quentin Tarantino). were on their way to Mexico to make a deal with an associate. In order to get across the border, they needed to find sufficient cover. Seth and Richard kidnapped Jacob Fuller (Harvey Keitel) and his daughter Kate (Juliette Lewis) and son Scott (Ernest Liu), who were on vacation in Jacob’s RV.

Once across the border, Seth and Richard took the Fuller family to the roadside bar, The Titty Twister, that they would be meeting his contact in the morning. Unfortunately, beyond their knowledge, the bar was a hangout for vampires, which led to a violent encounter and a struggle for their survival.

What an odd movie. The first half of this movie felt very much like a crime drama from Tarantino. It had the criminals and the bloody results of their crime spree. Richard was a real kook and clearly suffered from some mental illness. Seth was a leader, but very manipulative and battled with his own anger issues.

The film picked up intensity after they snatched the Fullers. I have to say that I found the performance of Harvey Keitel, who has done some really great work in his career, to be one of the best I have seen from him. I was completely engaged with his character and the internal battle he was handling.

Then, without any warning whatsoever, the film went completely batshit crazy and became a fighting vampire movie. Since I already knew about the vampire twist, it did not shock me, but I cannot imagine the reaction of someone heading into the film without that knowledge. It went totally insane. That’s in a good way, though.

There were some things that pulled me out of the story though. When the vampires would explode in the sunlight, that was a bit too much for me. Plus, the fact that Cheech Marin played, at the very least, three separate characters was very distracting for me. I did not understand why, suddenly, there was another person who sounded like or looked just like Cheech Marin. After looking at IMDB, I see that John Hawkes (who was Lennon on LOST) also played two distinct roles, but since I did not notice that, it did not pull me out of the movie like the Cheech Marin characters did.

Many of the special effects looked like they were done in the nineties and so they were pretty dated. In fact, there were a couple of moments that were most likely intended to be frightening, but turned out to be cheesy or laughable (I’m looking at you, Fred Williamson).

George Clooney does an admirable job of maintaining his character throughout the movie no matter what bizarre situation he found himself in. Next to Keitel, Clooney was the standout among the cast.

From Dusk Till Dawn was a crazy ride that reverse course rapidly in the middle of the film. It really did feel like two completely different movies crammed together into one. Though far from the best work of either Robert Rodrigues or Quentin Tarantino, this movie is still a entertaining watch.

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