Friday, October 24, 2014
FROM DUSK TILL DAWN
How great is this story? Two bandits fresh off a bank heist and prison break are running from the law trying to cross the border. After taking a family hostage they cross safely into freedom and go to the predetermined meeting place at a strip club out in the middle of nowhere waiting for their ride. Suddenly vampires happen. Good stuff. Wish I thought of that story.
FROM DUSK TILL DAWN subverts audience expectations in a couple of ways. An unsuspecting audience member might come into the film thinking they are watching a modern day gangster movie. Vampire stuff isn't even remotely alluded to until people start finding bat-faced strippers gorging on their necks. I am sure that would be shocking and exciting to someone out of the know. Our heroes are two killers, Seth and Richard Gecko. The closest thing to a real hero is an old sheriff who gets shot right away at the beginning of the film and John Saxon who is too busy being on t.v. and miles away to do any to stop our two villains/heroes. I know there is the preacher and his two kids but they are supporting cast and are not as interesting as Seth and Richard.
George Clooney as Seth Gecko is a powerhouse, domineering in your face force throughout the film. You just know he is going to make it out of all this heck without a scratch. He is a thief we end up sympathizing with because he doesn't want to kill anyone and actually shows some discomfort when he threatens a bank teller the two brothers have take hostage. He is one of those guys that kills when he has too. It is not something he enjoys doing. Richard on the other hand is a complete psychopath who finds any excuse he can to kill. He comes across as an awkward geek but he is anything but. He is a killer through and through yet we still kind of like him. It is their bond as brothers that gets them through this life with Seth doing what he can to keep his brother from murder just short of committing Richard to a psychiatric hospital or prison. He ignorantly expects him and his brother to live a normal life when they cross the border. Even if vampires hadn't shown up eventually Seth would have to "Of Mice and Men" his brother for not being able to stop killing and steering unwanted attention their way. That would be a great movie too.
Once the vampires start feasting on bikers and truck drivers all heck-ola breaks loose. A whole other film emerges. Gone is the sunny dry dusty modern day western replaced with the gross out splatter action horror movie. The screen is doused over and over again with blood, gore and rubbery body parts. The special effects range from excellent make-ups and mechanical creatures to out of place C.G.I. morphs and cheap stiff exploding mannequins. The good with the bad effects actually makes the film visuals look better and add variety to the artistry of the production value on display. Special effects do not have to look perfectly real to be good. Bad special effects add to the art of film. A great example of this is the EVIL DEAD trilogy. Also bad special effects let us know that we can have fun with this film just like the makers had fun when creating this movie.
There is a lot going on in this film and director Robert Rodriguez has full control of the material. Balancing two different kinds of movies in the same film he shows how energetic and crafty he can be in different ways. The beginning of the film is slow and steady like a western allowing the camera to take in the cool and collected (sometimes) Seth Gecko. The second half is turbulent with a lot a quick but not too quick cuts going around the bloody bar making sure we the audience can see every bit of carnage going on. No one else could have made this film.
Never a dull moment FROM DUSK TILL DAWN is a hard movie to top on my top ten list. That reminds me. One of these days I should make a top ten list.