Every time he pops up in a Quentin Tarantino film or a Kevin Smith film I know I’m in for a treat. A real treat. *
Even if he isn’t around very long, he’s still wonderful for the moments he’s on screen. He’s witty and dry and always has some kind of great accent and he might say the filthiest things ever but he’s still mesmerizing to listen to.
He, along with Danny Trejo and Tom Savini, are some of my favorite stars of From Dusk Til Dawn. Not to say that George Clooney and Harvey Keitel aren’t fabulous or anything BUT Danny Trejo makes almost anything better (The Crow 4 aside) and, while Tom Savini isn’t the greatest actor ever, he sure is fun to watch bounce around hamming it up. Just check out his ridiculous codpiece gun! You can’t get much better than that in a schlocky grindhouse type flick such as this!
The plot of From Dusk Til Dawn basically breaks down like this: The Gecko brothers need to get themselves into Mexico but it seems the entirety of Texas law enforcement is out to stop them after they killed a bunch of people and blew up a building or two. They take an ex-pastor and his kids hostage in order to use their RV to make it across the border. Things get tense and yell-y for a while but the criminals and their new friends (and I’m using the term ‘friends’ incredibly loosely here) manage to make it across without incident. Once in Mexico they head to a wild biker bar with the hopes of rendezvousing with someone who’ll help them disappear for good. Unfortunately the bar turns out to be a bit wilder than expected when bouncers, barkers, bartenders, and beautiful topless women suddenly turn into ravenous vampires and start killing everyone.
One of the things I love most about this movie is the amount of backstory and character development that goes into the main leads when it really isn’t necessary. We know that Seth Gecko (George Clooney) is a thief and a big brother and a killer with a chip on his shoulder who just wants to get someplace safe. Richie Gecko (Quentin Tarantino) is a psycho and a killer and a foot fetishist with an itchy trigger finger and a teeth grinding problem who does what his big brother tells him but only after they fight about it. Their hostage Jacob (Harvey Keitel) is a broken man with a dead wife and two children who don’t know what’s happening to their family anymore as he drags them off in an RV. These characters have motivations and feelings and thoughts and desires and losses of faith and while it makes them seem believable it doesn’t matter AT ALL because once the vampires come out to play it’s all death and dismemberment and blood and guts (SO MUCH blood and guts) and all the stuff we learned about these people becomes pretty much pointless. Sure it comes in handy that Jacob is a preacher (who eventually gets his faith back) and can bless water and make crucifixes, and it comes in handy that Seth is a criminal with a penchant for weapons and bloodshed. But by the end of the big final battle scene none of that stuff really matters. There aren’t enough people left for it to matter.
Another thing I love about this movie is how horrible and creepy looking and nasty the vampires are (well once they take on their demonic visages of course, cause we can all pretty much agree that Selma Hayek is the furthest thing from horrible and creepy looking and nasty at first). When exactly did everyone decide vampires were tragic romantic figures anyway? When did vampires falling in love with their food become such a popular thing? Sure, I’ll admit I went through a silly teenage gothic vampire fascination phase once upon a time, but I also got over it relatively quickly. Vampires should be scary, not sexy. They are dead people who’ve popped back up again to kill living people. Humans are their food, not their love interests. I’m not gonna go out and fall in love with a cow, so why would a vampire go out and fall in love with me? All this rambling leads me to the point (I almost forgot to make) and that is that I appreciate a good, hardcore, graphically violent vampire story where the vampires are monsters and the people are food and while some of them manage to fight back and save themselves, the rest of them end up pretty dang dead because that’s kind of how it works when an apex predator goes hunting through a herd of weaker, frightened prey animals.
From Dusk Til Dawn isn’t art. It isn’t the greatest Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez film. It isn’t even the greatest vampire movie ever. BUT. But it’s a heck of a lot of fun to watch. The special effects are fabulously gross, the language is ridiculously rough, the soundtrack is paired perfectly with the action, and George Clooney is pretty dang hot as a murderous tattooed thug with a bad attitude. It’s the kind of dirty fun movie that you need to partake in every once in a while, just to remind yourself how entertaining they can be.
– Mia V.
From Dusk Til Dawn, 1996
Starring George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Ernest Liu, Cheech Marin
Directed by Robert Rodriguez
Written by Robert Kurtzman and Quentin Tarantino
Watch on ThisTV: Sunday 1/18 at 11pm and/or Saturday 1/24 at 9pm!
*Speaking of fabulous Micheal Parks’ roles, I encourage everyone to check out the phenomenally bizarre and uncomfortable and hilarious and dark Kevin Smith feature Tusk, starring Parks and Justin Long. It’s like Silence of the Lambs and Human Centipede only completely different and totally worth watching at least once so you can get to the end and wonder what the heck you just watched.