Tuesday, October 22, 2013
From Dusk Till Dawn
I first caught the movie on TV when I was 13 or 14 years (which, despite the R rating, is probably the ideal audience or at least an audience that can appreciate those sensibilities), and it was already about half way when I came in, thus spoiling the movie's big surprise. Most movies start in one genre and stick with it throughout, or they cross-pollinate characteristics of some into one big blend. From Dusk Till Dawn, however, does something rarer; it begins in one genre and on a dime propels into another seamlessly. What starts as a story of criminals on the run with their hostages changes gears and becomes heroes under siege by a horde of supernatural monsters.
On the run from Texas police and the FBI, criminals Seth Gecko (George Clooney) and his brother Richie (Tarantino) take a lapsed preacher, Jacob Fuller (Keitel), and his children, Kate (Juliette Lewis) and Scott (Ernest Liu), hostage and commandeer their RV. Crossing the Mexican border, they hunker down at a fancy little bar called "The Titty Twister," but Seth and Richie cause trouble with some employees (including Salma Hayek as "Santanico Pandemonium), who reveal themselves as vicious vampires that proceed to feed on much of the bar's clientele. Seth rallies the survivors (including Tom Savini as a biker named "Sex Machine" and Fred Williamson as a scarred Vietnam vet), but even after clearing out the bar, more vampires appear outside, just eager for a chance to get inside.
The humor comes from these characters being forced on a dime to confront and accept the supernatural. The first half of the movie plays like an edgy, slow-burn crime thriller. There's no transition, buildup, or hint in the narrative that the undead are going to appear. One minute Salma Hayek is dancing in a bikini with a giant snake, and the next, at the sight of dripping blood, she leaps atop Tarantino and bites his throat out. Then all the strippers and bartenders transform into these demonic, long-eared, big-fanged vampires and start biting and clawing anything that moves. It's pure chaos, and it's awesome.
Things slow down a bit as the characters get into discussion about the nature of what they're dealing with and what to do about it. "Does anyone know what's going on?" Jacob asks. "I know what's going on," Seth says. "We got a bunch of fucking vampires out there that are trying to get in here and suck our fucking blood. And that's it. Plain and simple."
And for those of you who don't like Tarantino, he's as obnoxious as ever, but he gets killed. Graphically. Twice. Hell, that's fun even if you are a fan.