Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino are at their peak in this crime/horror classic from 1996 that seems like two different movies in one. A star studded cast, a robbery gone awry, a bar called the “Titty Twister”, and then balls to the wall unexpected vampire frenzy make From Dusk Till Dawn a movie that straddles genres and provides thrills all round.
While it’s true that you’ll either love this movie all the way through, or be mystified and disappointed by its change of tune, there’s no denying that this movie was when both Tarantino and Clooney were hitting their stride.
Warning, contains spoilers!
The movie starts with brother Seth and Richard Gecko (played by Clooney and Tarantino) on their way to the Mexican border to outrun the FBI, the cops, and god know who else. Seth is a slick, charming, gentlemen-like robber, and Richard is his creepiest, unpredictable, younger brother who always needs to be watched out for to make sure that he’s not stuffing things up for the pair.
Along the way, a salt of the Earth, but the weary preacher (Keitel) and his two children (Kate, as played by Lewis and Ernest Liu’s Scott) get mixed up in the action and are kidnapped by the Gecko brothers. While the unlikely group makes their way towards a bar where the brothers are to meet their contact there are some truly great scenes.
While there is obvious tension on both sides, the group attempts to keep things lighthearted, as guided by Seth, with biting moments often bubbling to the surface. The dialogue between the two brothers and their is captives, especially titillating, in that classic Tarantino style, and the camera work complements the tension perfectly.
As they draw into the meeting spot, the Titty Twister, a saloon-type joint out in the middle on the circled by bike types, we’re greeted by the host of the establishment, played by Cheech Marin, of Cheech and Chong fame, espousing the delights that lie inside the bar. In short, it’s a strip joint – but just listen to his speech.
Once the characters enter the bar the movie starts to change, the absurdity of the outside of the bar amplifying into the interior. We meet a tough-guy character called Sex Machine (played by Tom Savini) and it’s not long before we’re treated to an amazing dance on stage by the beautiful and positively tantalizing Salma Hayek as the main attraction.
Then: cue vampires, mayhem, and the sort of schlocky-horror that you’d expect from a Raimi movie, combined with our group of unlikely companions banding together to fight the army of bloodsucking fiends that seem to crawl out from all corners of the cavernous bar.
If you’re a Tarantino fan, you’ll at least love the first half. If you’re a zombie movie aficionado, you’ll love the second. Many will love both! And finally, if you’re a fan of neither, avoid this movie at all costs!
Rating – 4.5/5