Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Scene Stealer: From Dusk Till Dawn

“Now this is my kind of place,” Seth says before all hell breaks loose. “This place” comes out of nowhere, in the middle of nowhere, in a film that has played like a hostage film for the first half and then suddenly and without warning transitions into a vampire-gore flick. From Dusk Till Dawn, the Robert Rodriguez-Quentin Tarantino collaboration is one crazy, entertaining film. It’s got it all – guns, criminally-insane brothers, a Winnebago, Cheech Marin, bikers, booze, blood, profanity, strippers, vampires, decapitations, stakes to the heart and so much gore. You can’t take it seriously, but that’s the best thing about it. It oozes cheese, but it works.

It’s at the point where the movie switches gears from hostage film to horror-gore fest that I most enjoy. For about an hour, we follow two brothers, Seth and Richard Gekko (George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino), who’ve robbed a bank and are heading for the Mexican border. They take hostages while on the run – a Baptist minister named Jacob Fuller and his two kids. The Fullers are travelling in a Winnebago that the Gekko’s decide to hide in to cross the border.

Once in Mexico, the Gekko brothers, with the Fullers in tow, head to a skuzzy biker-trucker-strip joint called The Titty Twister to rendezvous with their contact Carlos. All’s well and the brothers are having a good ‘ol time until a barroom brawl erupts. Richard is stabbed in the hand and all hell breaks loose…literally. The last 30 minutes of the film are full of fantastic fun. The original plot falls by the wayside as the vampire plot begins. The spill of blood from Richard’s hand ignites an outbreak of vampirism as the bar’s employees, all of whom are shape-shifting, blood-sucking vamps, turn into a pack of hungry animals and begin attacking the bar’s patrons.

Rodrigues goes for all out violence and special effects, with blood spewing everywhere; with heads flying off bodies; with limbs being hacked off; with throats being ripped open. Even the weapons of choice are wacky and creative – water balloons, super soakers and a handmade power saw. It’s a crazy, bloody and gory vampire extravaganza that is ridiculously unexpected and over-the-top. You have to wait until the end for the best part, but it’s no matter, since the first half of the film plays well too, particularly if you enjoy classic Tarantino dialogue. And I would be remiss if I failed to mention the point at which the pace of the film slows but for a few brief moments for a bikini-clad, erotic snake dance by Salma Hayek. It’s hands-down CS’s scene stealer of choice from this film so I had to mention it. CS and I have debated the bikini scene on several occasions. He sees it, in a farfetched way, as being symbolic of female empowerment. I usually just roll my eyes since he says that just to bug me and appreciates the scene for its "visual effects" rather than for its "feminism." Anyway, the film’s got something for everyone!


  1. Great write-up.

    Classic film! So many great lines and action sequences.

    "Do you have food here?..."The best in Mexico!"...I highly doubt that!"

  2. I can watch this movie over and over and never get bored of it. Great review! The Hayek scene is certainly a brilliant one. They just don't make good "bad movies" like this any more.

  3. This is a gaping hole in my viewing of Tarantino.

    Still, it's always enjoyable to read these pieces - gives one something to look for when one does watch the film.

  4. Phips1:55 pm

    Wait, so what's the scene stealer? Is it just the entire latter half of the film after arriving at the Titty Twister?

    My fav. scene is the liquor store shootout...classic Tarantino. Great stuff.

    Nice write up.

  5. This is the moment when the fun starts. I didn't much like the early scenes but glad I stuck with it for everthing from Salma dancing!

  6. Salma... that is a great scene although she had to be hypnotized in order to do the scene with the snake due to her fear of snakes.

  7. @Ty - Thanks! It's a great movie with so much crazy action and great lines.

    @M. Hufstader - I agree. I don't think I'll ever tire of watching this film. I think the 'Grindhouse' double feature was made in the same vein as 'From Dusk Till Dawn,' but I prefer the latter effort from Tarantino-Rodriguez.

    @Sam Fragoso - It's a fun, crazy flick and definitely worth seeing.

    @Phips - yep, I'm kind of cheating with this scene stealer post and treating the final bit of the movie as one big scene since it's one big battle, gore fest.

    Ah yes, the liquor store shoot-out is another great scene. There are so many good ones.

    Glad you enjoyed the post.

    @Pete - The first part doesn't tend to be everybody's favourite, but the second half is definitely worth watching the entire film.

    @thevoid99 - Many men enjoy the Salma scene. I had to reference it for CS.

    Really, eh? I didn't know she was afraid of snakes.


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