From Dusk Till Dawn (yep, the movie everyone else saw sixteen years ago)

So I’m a little late to the party! I don’t mind though. I’ve always been a late bloomer.

NEW AT REDBOX!

I watched this flick on the treadmill over a period of two weeks. Yep, it took me four runs of around twenty-five minutes each to finish it. You got a problem with that? I’m getting back into shape, alright? Easy on the old daddy…

I wouldn’t give From Dusk Till Dawn a ten-out-of-ten, nor would I give it a nine or even an eight. But I really enjoyed it, so that’s got to count for something, right?

So here are some reasons why I was entertained (mitigated by a couple flaws I think could’ve been addressed):

1. Quentin Tarantino’s Writing

He was actually more evil before the transformation

Tarantino the screenwriter is ALMOST the equal of Tarantino the director. And man, that’s saying a whole lot, because the dude is one of my favorite directors of all time. Particularly in the first half of this movie (you know, the half with dialogue?), Tarantino’s writing crackles. The dialogue, the situational silences, all of it works beautifully.

2. The Villians

Joins the Cat-Creature in The Island of Dr. Moreau as one of the coolest and most prematurely killed villains in film history

So let’s get to the vampire bat in the living room (and if you’ve avoided spoilers thus far in your life…man, how’s that underground bunker workin’ out for ya?): the bar is full of vampires.

I went to rottentomatoes.com a little while ago to check out the critical reception to this movie and wasn’t the least bit surprised that many critics disliked the dramatic halftime tonal shift. It either works for you, or it doesn’t. It worked for me just fine, likely because I’m predisposed to roll with these kinds of cinematic punches—particularly when the veering leads into horror.

I will say that this created one of my problems with the film, however. I know the movie is short, and I know I sound like I’m missing the point, but I would’ve liked to have seen more of the first wave of villains. They’re just killed off too early, which makes the last wave of villains (and the ensuing action) anti-climactic. Couldn’t Danny Trejo and Salma Hayek have gone off and huddled somewhere and returned for the battle royale?

Speaking of Salma…

3. Salma Hayek

*Gulp*

As a married man and father of three, this was the only Google image I could find and post that didn’t make me feel guilty. Let’s move on, shall we?

4. Clooney

The Professional

Clooney is given great lines in the first half of the film from Tarantino and delivers them flawlessly. He’s given good lines in the second half of the film and delivers them flawlessly. He does a great job. Not Salma great, but great nonetheless. I also thought the denouement was brilliant (both Clooney’s last line to Juliette Lewis and the final, zooming-out reveal of the rear of the bar).

So I liked the film. I didn’t particularly like the instant CGI transformations (but the Tom Savini special effects were just outstanding…at least I assume he did the effects…he co-starred in the film, which I’m also embarrassed to say I didn’t realize until I said to myself, “Hey, that Sex Machine character’s pretty cool,” which led me to the ever helpful imdb.com). Which necessitates my including a picture of Mr. Savini below…

My co-star at the upcoming HorrorHound Weekend in Indianapolis this September!

If you read the caption above, you learned that I, along with Tom Freaking Savini, and most of the cast of the landmark horror/sci-fi/action film Aliens will congregate in one venue this September for HorrorHound Weekend (Indianapolis edition!). Okay, so most folks will be going to see Linda Hamilton or Michael Biehn or Lance Henrikson or Tom Savini or Elvira or, well, that guy who got his legs bitten off in the opening scene of The Bride of the Re-Animator’s Cousin Vs. the Killer Clown Zombies III, but the point is, I’LL BE THERE TOO!

So I’ll see you in Indy. By then you will have re-watched From Dusk Till Dawn and read my second novel HOUSE OF SKIN (which is on sale now), so we’ll have loads to talk about.

We might even get Linda Hamilton to do that cool gun-cocking thing she does in Terminator 2.

6 thoughts on “From Dusk Till Dawn (yep, the movie everyone else saw sixteen years ago)

  1. It was Kim Newman who pointed out that the film is (I’m paraphrasing) an extended riff on the epilogue of Jim Thompson’s THE GETAWAY, which even Peckinpah appears to have found too extreme to film.

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  2. Wow, I had no idea that the movie related to Peckinpah’s film, though with Tarantino’s encyclopedic knowledge of film history, it doesn’t surprise me that he’d do such a thing consciously (or unconsciously). I’m also embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read Thompson yet, though I own three of his works (The Grifters; After Dark, My Sweet; and A Hell of a Woman). I’ll have to remedy that soon.

    Thank you for stopping by, Mr. Campbell. You know I’m a huge fan (and whether you know it or not, I mention you on the acknowledgements page of my debut novel The Sorrows).

    JJ

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  3. I absolutely love this movie, and have been a Salma admirer ever since she hit the stage and pour that drink over her leg. I love how it was 2 separate, yet fun movies. And that’s the key. It was fun, with a collection of very good actors. Horror film makers today need to remember to do that more often.

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  4. Yep, the two separate but fun movies thing was one of the things I loved most about FDTD. And like you did, I had loads of fun. Well, if I hadn’t been on the treadmill, I would’ve had even more fun…which I guess is a testament to just how fun the film is. If it can make me smile while on the treadmill, man that’s a great movie! 🙂

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  5. Thank you so much for the link, Mr. Campbell. What a fascinating read! I wonder if that Peckinpah-urinating-on-the-screen story is apocryphal. If not…wow. What a shocking example of how a star can control (and in this case, neuter) a great screenplay and its source material. I’m surprised Peckinpah wasn’t able to transfer more of his and Thompson’s vision onto the screen, but then again, McQueen was a pretty huge deal at that time, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

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