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Chicks in bikinis, Clooney with a neck tattoo, fangs dripping with blood - you know the drill....
Echo Bridge / 290 Minutes / 1996-2000 / Rated R / Street Date: November 29, 2011
For those of you who haven't seen From Dusk Till Dawn, it's a nonstop thrill ride that mixes the horror, action, crime and western genres and tops it off with a healthy dollop of extra violence. George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino star as the Gecko brothers - two dangerous outlaws on a wild crime spree across the desert.
After kidnapping a father (Harvey Keitel) and his two kids (including Juliette Lewis in her heroin phase), the Geckos head south to a seedy Mexican bar to hide out in safety. But when they come up upon the bar's truly "notorious" clientele, they're forced to team up with their hostages in order to make it out alive...
This is the film that first prepared George Clooney for the leap from TV star to the seemingly godlike status of A-List movie star (let's forget Batman & Robin, shall we??). It's easy to see why. For my money George is without doubt at his most cool in this film. And Tarantino, widely disparaged for his continued attempts at acting, gives one of his better finest performances here. Whatever you want to say about him as an actor, no one can write dialogue like Tarantino (Lucas, take note!). This, coupled with Rodriguez's slo-mo directing make the first half of the film a very cool road movie.
Then without warning the film transpires into a full-on gorefest vampire movie. If you've never seen the film before (I've probably already spoilt it for you, sorry), the second half of the film will probably come as a bit of a shock. The 30 minutes or so is a mixture of computer imagery and every Fangoria fan's dream: Real latex horror effects!!!
And as any horror franchise worth its weight knows, what good is one standalone movie when you can have more? From Dusk Till Dawn was followed by two unbearable sequels, whose only merit is that Danny Trejo appears in them both. Well, I guess it's one prequel and one sequel: From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999) is a Robert Patrick-led gore-fest, while From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter (2000) takes us back to the early 20th century to find out how we fought vampires back in the old west (look out for supporting performances from Sonia Braga and Orlando Jones here).
The fourth movie on this set - From Dusk Till Dawn: Full Tilt Boogie (1997) - is definitely adjacent to the franchise, though not in terms of narrative: It's a documentary on the making of the first film.