Cinophile – From Dusk till Dawn

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Today everyone hates Twilight, because it doesn’t have ‘real’ vampires. Which is a load of nonsense, since what we regard as proper vampires were mostly invented by the movies anyway. In fact, Hollywood has been playing fast and loose with these mythical bloodsuckers for a while. Sometimes they are nice, sometimes they are vicious and sometimes they run strip clubs in the Mexican desert.

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Director Kevin Smith once nearly got arrested because of this film’s opening scene. He was playing it loudly for his wife when a neighbour mistook it for an actual hostage situation and called the cops.  The scene is also the debut of the character Texas Ranger Earl McGraw, who later appeared again in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill vol. 1.

When Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez created the Grindhouse films, they were trying to tap that magic they had in the Nineties. Tarantino was obviously hot stuff – even bigger than in these post-Django days – and everyone wanted to work on his scripts, including top directors like Tony Scott and, sadly, Oliver Stone. But Rodriguez did it best, perhaps even surpassing Quentin at his own game. Coming hot off the success of Desperado, the two directors made this piece of schlock, easily one of the top five vampire films ever.

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From Dusk till Dawn was George Clooney’s first major motion picture, an attempt to break away from his E.R. persona.  It would prove to be a shrewd decision and springboard him into a very successful film career that, broadly speaking, hasn’t actually lost its spark yet. 

Someone who might agree is George Clooney. Though famous on TV, he needed a movie springboard and chose the furthest thing from the hospital corridors of E.R. Seth Gecko is a classic Tarantino villain – more Michael Madsen than John Travolta – with a soft spot for his psychotic brother. On the run from a jailbreak and a double digit body count, they sneak across the Mexican border by kidnapping an R.V.-driving Harvey Keitel and his family. There they check into a sleazy all-night strip joint to wait for the Geckos’ contact, which turns out to be infested with vampires. And though Salma Hayek puts the Vamp in the bloodline, these are the cousins the Underworld clan never invite to family events. Probably because they tend to explode…

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That is indeed Danny Trejo, who would go on to make quite a few movies with Robert Rodriguez.  Other notable appearances include Salma Hayek, Juliet Lewis and Cheech Marin in three different roles. Horror fans are also treated with the character of the biker Sex Machine, played by horror special effects master Tom Savini.

If you have never seen From Dusk till Dawn, don’t admit it in public. Just go find a copy and tick that box. Unfortunately it’s too late to use all the awesome lines. No threatening to kill the band. No calls to get rambling. And no chance to repeat the doorman’s legendary sales pitch. Don’t worry – nobody’s ever gotten that last one right anyway.

 

 

Cinophile is a weekly feature showcasing films that are strange, brilliant, bizarre and explains why we love the movies.

Last Updated: December 9, 2013

James

A total movie glutton, nothing is too bad or too obscure to watch, unless it's something like The Human Centipede. If you enjoyed that, there is something wrong with you. But bless you anyway - even video nasties need love...

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