On This Day: From Dusk till Dawn (1996)

On This Day continues with Leon Nicholson looking at From Dusk till Dawn starring George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, Quentin Tarantino and Juliette Lewis which received a release on January 3rd 1997 in Italy.

For those unaware, a common mistake made is that people think this is a Tarantino helmed movie. The truth is that it’s directed by his mate Robert Rodriguez. From Dusk till Dawn probably ranks at number two in the best movies he’s made (with number one being the low budget El Mariachi).

Seth (George Clooney) and Richie Gecko (Quentin Tarantino) are fugitives fleeing the F.B.I. and Texas cops leaving a trail of mayhem and destruction in their wake. As they attempt to reach the Mexican border they come across the Fullers – Jacob (Harvey Keitel) and his kids Scott (Ernest Lu) and Kate (Juliette Lewis) who are taking a vacation in their motorhome. The Gecko’s, who realise the net is closing in on them take the Fullers hostage and demand that they help them to cross the border. After successfully making it they stop off at a club called the Titty Twister but all is not what it seems with this ‘safe haven’ as the club harbours a deadly, unexpected secret. Will the Gecko’s and Fullers make it out with their lives or will they fall foul to the evil that lurks within the club.

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From Dusk till Dawn is a combination of 70s road trip cinema and 90s violence and bloodshed. Robert Rodriguez’s direction is spot on as he acquires superb performances all round. It’s hard to think of George Clooney not being a major powerhouse in Hollywood yet playing Seth Gecko in this film was his first major role. This was certainly his breakthrough role and catapulted him towards stardom in Tinseltown. Tarantino himself produces his best ever performance in a movie playing the evil, nasty Richard Gecko with unnerving ease. Harvey Keitel is wonderful as the Jacob Fuller – the preacher man who is having a crisis of faith and Juliette Lewis as his daughter Kate is herself pretty damn good.

The rest of the support coming from cult actors such as Fred Williamson and Tom Savini add to the overall fun of the movie. There is however a special mention for Salma Hayek who probably silenced every man (and maybe every woman) at the cinema with a dazzling display… (that’s all that needs to be said) another memorable moment in a fun movie.

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It’s rare for a movie to be unforgettable for so many different reasons. The genre switch, being great fun, George Clooney being badass and of course Santanico Pandemonium played by Salma Hayek who never looked better despite having a big ass snake wrapped around her neck. These factors, and more contributes to why From Dusk till Dawn works so well.

Directing aside, From Dusk till Dawn represents how Tarantino become hot property. With this being his first paid writing gig, movies including True Romance and Natural Born Killers soon followed. Whether one loves Tarantino or not, it’s clear to see that his arrival, along with Rodriguez, begun to change the landscape of cinema.

From Dusk till Dawn is a wonderfully enjoyable romp with plenty of gory action. There’s enough here to satisfy horror enthusiasts and fans of exploitative cinema.

FMV Rating ****



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