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
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