From Dusk Till Dawn
Review by Mike Finkelstein
We open on Benny's World of Blood... well, Booze. The blood comes later. Backing up for a second, there are these two criminals (brothers also -- George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino) on the run after a mildly botched bank robbery. Their goal is to make it to Mexico. As it is, they stop at Benny's for some booze and some money. That's about the time the blood starts flowing.
And off the two criminals go, with a hostage, to get to Mexico. Along the way, the more disturbed of the two brothers brutally kills the hostage. The less insanely stupid of the brothers realizes they have to get new hostages, so he kidnaps an ex-priest (Harvey Keitel), the priest's daughter (Juliette Lewis) and son (Ernest Liu).
Once in Mexico, the quintet hole-up at a rather risque tavern where they drink, cuss, and, eventually, fight vampires.
Yes, in case you forgot already, this is a vampire flick. Don't worry, the first time through everyone forgets this is a vampire flick. It's part of the charm.
From Dusk till Dawn is a strange movie. It pretty well defines a small sub-genre of movies -- the one where you know some major plot with a monster or serial killer is supposed to happen, but it takes anywhere from a half hour to an hour for that plot line to actually start. In the process, you end up watching a different movie that really starts going well, and you're jarred when the movie you went in to see finally starts up. Predator is also like this (in fact, I tend to term this Predator Syndrome).
Personally, I really dug the whole plot line with the two brothers on the run. This part of the movie is classic Tarantino. The problem with the movie stems from the basic concept: Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez went in to make a vampire movie, and eventually they actually had to have vampires. It's painfully obvious, watching this movie, that the last thing these guys knew how to write is a vampire movie. It's more a slap-dash job of throwing vampires into a script they already had started writing... which honestly, I wouldn't totally rule out.
But, the vampire violence is fairly fun. The special effects are terrible campy, but there's plenty of gore, guts, and slime to make any gore-hound happy. The action is nothing to speak of (which is sad, as another Rodriguez movie, Desperado, has fantastic -- if campy -- action sequences in it), so don't go in looking for a great vampire hunting movie.
The acting is what drives this movie for most of its run time. George Clooney gets most of the credit here, as his character, the criminal Seth Gecko, has the right mix of cool charm and cold menace. Less impressive is Quentin Tarantino as the insane brother Richard Gecko. He simply plays a slimy perv, which doesn't strike me as all that different from Quentin in normal life. I like the other characters (the priest and his family), but they aren't exactly standouts. They do an effective, if un-special, job.
Really, the movie isn't a complete wash, but you'll end up wishing the movie would have continued on the track it was following before the vampires showed up to the party. As it stands, it's a fun piece of popcorn, but nothing as special as it could have been.