From the List of Shame, File #14: From Dusk Till Dawn

While we have seen many films, there are many films that are held in high regard that we haven’t seen yet. As we cross them off our List of Shame, we’ll write about them here!

As a fan of Tarantino (though not an apologist), I have been meaning to go through and watch films made from other screenplays he’s written. With the current vampire craze still undead and kickin’, I decided to dive in and watch From Dusk Till Dawn, his take on the Horror/Vamp genre, directed by his friend Robert Rodriguez.

I’m not a huge fan of Rodriguez’s sensibilities, but it seems like Tarantino wrote the script with him in mind. From Dusk Till Dawn is really two films, the first half comprising of the Gecko brothers, Seth and Richard, (played by George Clooney and Tarantino) en route to Mexico after a bloody robbery in Texas. The second half of the film has them attempting to survive a massive vampire attack along with their family of hostages while waiting in a strip club/bar. The tone of each half is wildly different. The first half really does feel like a gritty crime escape film with Tarantino dialogue rhythms, while the second half retains the dialogue but abandons all semblance of being anything but an adrenaline-fueled B-movie.

Many people will love one half of the film, but may not enjoy the other. I actually enjoyed both halves equally, though for different reasons. In the beginning, we see the tension and comedy that we know and love from Tarantino, while the second half of the film shows off the twisted exploration shlock he and Rodriguez love (remember, this movie predates Grindhouse).

As far as vampire flicks go, this is definitely on the low end. Although the creatures in the film resemble monsters with vampire-like attributes, they aren’t developed all that much in terms of mythology. I guess they at least start out sexy, if you’re into strippers. There’s no glamouring, or much bloodsucking, really.  For the purposes of the film, they may as well be zombies with a love of bats and an aversion to crosses.

I think it’s interesting that Tarantino is so willing to cast himself in the role of the unhinged pervert Richard Gecko, next to George Clooney’s more level-headed Seth Gecko (To my knowledge it’s the second time Tarantino has done this). It’s good to know he isn’t playing roles attempting to glamorize himself (God, I hope not), and this is also the most overt exhibition of his infamous foot fetishizing.

It’s hard for me to deny the fun appeal of this movie, but there were a lot of “Of course!” moments during the film for me. “Of course” the strippers are vampires! “Of course” Clooney builds a pneumatic auto-stake weapon! “Of course” the sun comes up just in time!

I’m not saying this is a great film, but if you like Tarantino and/or Rodriquez, there are worse ways to spend a lazy weekend afternoon.

List of Shame Files normally appears on Wednesdays. Previous entries are here.

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