10.10.2010

Fight Now, Cry Later.

FROM DUSK TILL DAWN (1996)
Image snagged from HDWarez

In the spirit of October being Halloween month, I think it's about time I got some motherfucking monster movies under my belt. And so, I begin with one of my favorites: the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino mash up From Dusk Till Dawn. As someone who watches movies, well, for the movie, I feel it's my duty to give you a preface for all those who haven't seen this. If you haven't seen From Dusk Till Dawn and have very little idea what it's about, DON'T READ THIS REVIEW. In fact, don't read ANY reviews. Don't read reviews, or descriptions, don't even watch the trailer. My experience with this movie runs like this: I went to the video store (ah, the age of actually physically holding movies in your hand before you take them home), saw Quentin Tarantino's name on the cover, and popped it in my player. I jumped into the movie without any idea with what it was about. And so, as it took off, I invested myself in the criminals-on-the-run aspect. In the hostage situation. In the two sets of characters the story runs with. And then, halfway through, once they're at the Titty Twister and the movie turns into a...well...completely and utterly different genre, I was caught totally off guard. And fucking loved it. So, this is the last time I'll say it, if you're still reading and you haven't seem this movie, what's wrong with you? The time to stop starts here.

Movie poster from impawards.com
Now. All the rest of you ramblers. Let's get rambling. This movie in my mind is a Grindhouse pre-Grindhouse. It's Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's first real badass baby (not counting Tarantino's segment in Four Rooms, while that was badass in it's own right, wasn't so much a feature film). It's proof that the two really should never stop making movies together. The first half is pure Tarantino. The long stretches of seemingly casual conversation, perfect character studies condensed into a single flowing conversation, layered with a building tension or a sudden dramatic twist. The beginning shot with the Texas Ranger (who cares if Michael Parks is typecasted in every Tarantino movie? He's fucking gold) is a perfect example of what seems to be simple conversation, layered suddenly with the threat of the Gecko Brother's entrance. 

While George Clooney usually makes it impossible NOT to love him, this is hands down my favorite of his roles (yes, even better than Ocean's 13). Seth Gecko is a cool cat; he's intimidating, but trustworthy, and he's got a cool as fuck tattoo. He's the one person you don't want to fuck with, yet at the same time you can't help but want to be his friend. It's no surprise that someone who could pull off that role would land the spot of a retranslated Odysseus in the Coen Brother's O, Brother, Where Art Thou?. His charisma demands the attention of every scene. At the same time, Quentin surprisingly matches Clooney's performance, as Seth's twisted and paranoid brother Richie Gecko. Tarantino seems to have an uncanny knack for playing uncontrollable rapists. I'm not sure whether I should be worried. Nonetheless, the two have an amazing chemistry, especially delivered when Richie takes advantage of the hostage, leaving Seth to rub his nose in it (sidenote: the splicing of the hostage's body with Seth's repulsed expression? Chills. And it's hard to freak me out).

On the flip side, we have the Partridge Family. Harvey Keitel plays Jacob, the "Mean Motherfucking Servant Of God" preacher who's lost his faith after the death of his wife. As usual, Keitel delivers, quiet but calculating, the voice of reason in every situation. After the Wolf, Jacob, and Mr. White, if Keitel told me to jump a bridge, I'd jump it. Jacob is taking care of his two kids, Kate (played by a young Juliette Lewis) and his adopted chinese son Scott (played by Ernest Liu who, unsurprisingly, did not go on to be a star, but to his credit, he gave the role everything it required). This family of three gets turned upside down once they have a run in with the Gecko brothers and are forced to help them down past the border of Mexico. 
This is NOT a psycho.
Lo and behold, halfway through the movie, the trailer tugs on passed the border and the odd group reaches the Titty Twister. And the story's over and everyone lives happily ever after. Right. Right? Wrong. Rodriguez steps in. And suddenly, what was an amazing fucking crime movie about dodging the cops and holding hostages turns into an amazing fucking vampire/creature/whateverthefuckthosethingsare movie. Rodriguez comes in campy, twisted, and bloody as the smoking hot strippers suddenly turn the tables on the wolf-eyed men--prey eats predator. It's, in my mind, the perfect combination: Rodriguez gives us a full strip tease delivered by none other than the beautiful Salma Hayek (with a SNAKE. C'mon, people), and then returns favor to the ladies who rip the power back from the men between their bloody fangs. The vampires are savage, brutal, and disgusting--they won't lift their pinky fingers as they sip blood from crystal glasses or sparkle in the sunlight. These blood thirsty bastards are straight up classic vampire--they burn when sunlight hits them, they're wary of crosses, they turn into bats, and they're straight up Nosferatu ugly. These vampires will not be your friends and they will not be your lovers. In fact, Seth Gecko offers the best advice anyone has ever given in a creature film when he says: "fight now, cry later!"

With great actors, a great script, and to top it all off, a great soundtrack (Tito & Tarantula, the band from the Titty Twister, match the tone of movie beautifully), it's very hard for this movie not to make anyone's favorite's list. Do yourself a favor and rewatch it this Halloween. 

3 comments:

  1. Excellent review of a classic. From Dusk Till Dawn has everything: great action, memorable lines, music, and it is well-acted and directed.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks! I've got to agree with you there, it's a masterpiece of pure, unadulterated awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have just downloaded iStripper, so I can watch the sexiest virtual strippers on my taskbar.

    ReplyDelete

Every time you leave a comment, Chuck Norris sneezes and creates a new solar system.