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For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020


EDITOR’S NOTE: Although he had made six previous films, this one marked George Clooney’s first major role on the big screen; he was still on ‘ER’ at the time. And Quentin Tarantino was a hot property, however, hot off of ‘Reservoir Dogs’ and ‘Pulp Fiction.’ I was not a fan but it made money and has a rabid fan base — and a new Blu-ray release. My review was published on Jan. 19, 1996.


Another Looney Tunes effort from Quentin Tarantino, "From Dusk Till Dawn" is a broad, bloody and occasionally off-the-wall spoof of vampire pictures, with some inventive ideas that admittedly turn the genre on its ear.


But the film is so flamboyantly gory and disgusting, so vulgar and in-your-face obnoxious, with so many offensive subplots and wacked-out elements that you may give up long before you need to reach for your second headache tablet.


Tarantino wrote the screenplay and co-stars with George Clooney (of TV's "ER"), and the film was directed by one of Tarantino's cronies, a fellow former low-budget, independent filmmaker, Robert Rodriguez ("Desperado," "El Mariachi”).




Quentin Tarantino, George Clooney, 'From Dusk Till Dawn' (1996)


Together they have concocted a yarn that is so over the top it gives new meaning to the word "outrageous." But that shouldn't be confused with "entertaining."


They are the notorious Gecko Brothers. Seth (Clooney), the brains of the outfit, is a murderous, macho ex-con whose brother Richard (Tarantino) is a complete, over-the-wall psychopath (and sex offender).


The Geckos have robbed and killed their way through the Southwest, and now they're headed for Mexico. But in south Texas, they run into some problems. Richard just couldn't go into the convenience store and get a roadmap without killing the local sheriff. And then he just couldn't resist having his way with their hostage, a matronly bank teller — so, of course, he had to kill her, too.


The solution? Find new hostages, which they do in the form of a widowed former minister (Harvey Keitel) and his two teenage children (Juliette Lewis, Ernest Liu), both of whom swear like movie kids.


Then they head for a bar in Mexico that is to serve as a rendezvous point, where they'll meet a gangster who will give them sanctuary for a percentage of their dough.




But this bar isn't just the biker/trucker strip joint it appears to be. And as the movie hits the halfway mark, all of the employees, from the bartender to the nude platform dancers, reveal themselves as vampires. All hell breaks loose and a small war ensues, as the Geckos and the minister's family use all the clichés they've learned from vampire movies to fight back.


Helping them are characters played by gory makeup artist Tom Savini and former blaxploitation superstar Fred Williamson. Cheech Marin also shows up — in no less than three roles. And Kelly Preston has an amusing cameo as a chirpy TV-news reporter.


Clooney is commanding, if a bit posturing, while Tarantino nicely underplays his role, staring at the ground as if he deserves pity. (You won't agree once the pedophilia allusions set in.)


Keitel tries hard to find some dignity in the proceedings with his low-key portrait of a man of God who has lost his faith. Unfortunately, all his effort in this setting just makes his character seem ridiculous.


In the end it is the exploding bodies and glop-and-goo gore that turned me off. The entire film is so stomach-churning and supremely vulgar that it tends to kick the audience in the face over and over again.


That's entertainment?


"From Dusk Till Dawn" is rated R for violence, gore, nudity, profanity and vulgarity.