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From Dusk Till Dawn

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4

*Also starring: Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Cheech Marin, Salma Hayek, Ernest Liu, Danny Trejo, Fred Williamson, Kelly Preston

Review by Andrew Hicks
3 stars out of 4

If Beavis and Butthead had a favorite movie, FROM DUSK TILL DAWN would probably be it. Scripted by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Robert Rodriguez (Desperado), the movie panders to the very worst in sex and violence -- and is incredibly fun to watch. It starts off as a PULP FICTION-type crime story, with criminal brothers George Clooney and Tarantino robbing a convenience store. Because this is a Tarantino movie, however, it's not just a case of pull the gun and take the loot, it's a case of a hole being shot through someone's hand, a man on fire jumping out behind the counter and the entire store blowing up as they drive away. The opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the movie -- everything overdone and nothing as it seems. Clooney and Tarantino bring a hostage to the motel and then hijack an RV with a family in it. Harvey Keitel plays the backslidden ex-preacher and Juliette Lewis his daughter, whom registered sex-pervert Tarantino eyes endlessly. You know you're mentally unbalanced when you find Lewis the least bit attractive, although she's not nearly as obnoxious as usual in FROM DUSK TILL DAWN.

The first half of the movie has the criminals and hostages trying to get to and through the Mexico border, Clooney's strategy involving hiding in the RV shower while Lewis is on the toilet. It does its trick; the border guard takes one look at Lewis relieving herself and immediately goes blind, never noticing Clooney or Tarantino.

Once they get to Mexico, it's time to wait at the rendezvous point, a topless bar called Titty Twister where we're once again reminded Tarantino wrote the movie as he drinks champagne off the foot of a stripper. Finally, after about ten minutes of intercut boob shots and Clooney forcing Keitel and Lewis to drink with him, the stripper turns into a vampire. Soon half the people in the bar are vampires and the other half fall or fight back.

That's right, we've come all this way to see a vampire movie. But like everything else, Tarantino takes this age-old genre and twists it to his own ends to produce over-the-top entertainment. So we get holy water condom balloons, heads rolling, quadruple impalement on an overturned table and Keitel getting bitten by a vampire and announcing he only has a few minutes left before he becomes "a lap dog of Satan."

The FROM DUSK TILL DAWN dialogue is 100% Tarantino, hovering between absurd and disgusting (as when they're entering the nightclub and Cheech Marin announces the main attractions of the Titty Twister), but always entertaining, and is a huge reason the movie is so much fun to watch instead of being one more second-rate gorefest. Clooney, Keitel and especially Tarantino are so over-the-top with their delivery that the dialogue is that much more hilarious, ensuring not one second of FROM DUSK TILL DAWN is taken the least bit seriously.

Stuff like this would be terrible in any other movie, but Tarantino and Rodriguez know exactly what to do to entertain people, even if there's absolutely no message or meaning to FROM DUSK TILL DAWN. PULP FICTION had the vulgarity and violence for a reason, but this movie just throws it out for cheap entertainment. FROM DUSK TILL DAWN isn't the classic of modern cinema that PF is, but is does prove you can do a good job making a really bad movie.

Copyright 1996 Andrew Hicks

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