From Dusk to Dawn
Director: Robert Rodriguez

. 1998

Director: Scott Spiegel

. 1999

Director: P. J. Pesce

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

From Dusk to Dawn Riding a wave of expectation from Reservoir Dogs (1992) & Pulp Fiction (1994) & with many people wondering if Tarantino was ever going to get round to making another movie, Quentin dusted off a trunkpiece & handed it to Robert Rodriguez to direct with a big enough budget for the purpose.

They got a big star into the bargain, George Cloony, not to mention Selma Hyak as Satanico, & From Dusk to Dawn (1996) was a go.

The good news about From Dusk to Dawn is anything with Quentin Tarantino actually acting is going to be fun because if he hadn't been the director & producer he became, he could've been a world-class character actor.

Then stick in Harvey Keitel & Cheech Marin into the bargain, it's bound to result in good acting such as is so rarely expected in a buckets-of-blood flick.

The dead mariachi rock 'n' roll band played by Los Locos was too funny. And that final matte painting that tells us in the last moments of the film where the vampire titty club really was, that was cool.

Bad news is that the best part of the film was the lead-in that seemed to be a pretty good gangster film. As soon as the "actual purpose" of the film unfolds -- endless repetitious slaughter of vampires -- it is eventually bogs down & gets boring. Even so, it is very imaginative with the gore FX. In a way it's like two separate films, with no ending to the gangster movie provided.

Even though the action was put off for a while, it even then needed more interuptions & breathers. Without breaks in the whizz-bang action, all that nonstop guns & spewing blood eventually began to feel like a video game rather than a movie. With such interesting actors, it was a shame when the script got to that point where they no longer had anything to do that required acting.

The endless mayhem was all pretty stupid, highly entertaining for a while though eventually tiresome. But spook-house-ride movies go, in its own dumb way From Dusk to Dawn is a classic of its kind delivery nothing less & maybe a little bit more than one could hope for from violent exploitation.

From Dusk to DawnWithout a Tarantino script, without an action director of Rodriquez's calibre, the sequel never had much of a chance.

From Dusk to Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1998) is only tangentially related to From Dusk to Dawn, & is not a particularly worthy successor to the original. There's a brief scene in the vampire titty bar of the first movie, but nothing happens in it; the primary action takes place at a bank.

This disappointing film is about a group of bank robbers one of whom encounters vampire on the way to rob a bank then begins to infect his buddies. By the time they're breaking into the bank safe, all but one is infected with vampirism.

More cops show up from both sides of the Texas-Mexico border than a small town likely could muster so quickly, & there is a protracted all-action battle between cops & vampires. Whoever loved John Carpenter's no-characterization no-plot all-action Vampires will probably love this one too. But to me it's best moment is the token moment of "characterization" with the key characters sitting in a motel room discussing porn.

The film started off with a whimper, pretending it was going to star Bruce Campbell (Ash in the Evil Dead films), & how exciting that would be, but he's only in it for about two minutes, after which it actually stars Robert Patrick (the liquid robot in Terminator 2 & the sorry-ass replacement for Fox Mulder on X Files. The cast wouldn't've seemed so bad if they hadn't teased us with a better one.

From Dusk to Dawn There's actually a bit of story to go along with From Dusk to Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter (1999), which is a way better film than the second film, though no great shakes compared ot the first. Robert & Alvaro Rodriquez did the script, & they were much more inclined to honor the first movie which Robert had directed.

It's a prequel rather than a second sequel & takes place in a wild west Mexican border town.

The first half hour or so is a pretty good low-budget action western which introduces us to a Mexican bandit who escapes the gallows, the daughter of the sadistic hangman, & the aging author Ambrose Bierce who has shown up in Mexico to track down Poncho Villa & join the revolution.

While Bierce seeks Villa & the bandit & his girlfriend flee from the hangman & the law, they all end up at the same vampire titty bar of the first film. The last third of the film is all-out mayhem with some pretty imaginative gore FX, with enough short breathers between scenes of bloody violence to keep the tension high.

Ara Celi plays the vampire princess Satanico, with part of the film being an "origins" tale for the Selma Hayak character of the first film. Danny Trejo, the superb Mexican character actor, is the bartender of the vampire titty bar, a pleasantly scary presence in all three films (& one of the few saving graces of the inferior second film). It's a minor curiosity that the structure of Hangman's Daughter resembles the first From Dusk to Dawn in that the first half is a reasonably good realistic western & the second half is all out vampire mayhem.

Continue to the vampire films:
Fright Night (1985) & Fright Night II (1988)

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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