January 26, 1996
Web posted at: 8:45 a.m. EST
By CNN Movie Reviewer Carol Buckland
"From Dusk 'Til Dawn" is a twisted piece of schlock cinema.
This doesn't mean I didn't like it. Actually, I thought the first hour or so was sick but stylish fun. Then, unfortunately, the bloodsuckers show up ... (1.3M QuickTime movie)
The story begins with a bang-bang, boom-boom introduction of the criminally inclined Gecko brothers. Seth Gecko ("ER's" George Clooney) has some genuine smarts. Richard Gecko ("Pulp Fiction's" Quentin Tarantino, who also scripted) is a geeky psycho.
The Geckos are on the run and making mayhem. Surprise, right? I mean, this is a Tarantino script. You gotta expect down and dirty. You want civility, see Jane Austen.
Anyway. En route to Mexico, the Geckos kidnap an ex-preacher named Fuller (Harvey Keitel) and his two kids (Juliette Lewis, Ernest Liu). They all end up in a sleazy strip bar which is run and patronized by vampires. Suddenly, the Geckos start to seem like, well ... semi-good guys.
The ensuing battle against evil goes wa-a-a-a-a-a-y over the top. There is gore galore, and it gets numbingly gruesome. The urge to yell "Enough, already!" gets very strong after the fourth on-screen impalement.
Acting-wise, there's some good stuff here. Clooney (did you catch him in "Return of the Killer Tomatoes?") comes on strong as Seth. He holds the screen with smooth, movie-star magnetism. After a string of annoyingly amateurish (or worse) performances, Tarantino does some creepily effective work as Richard. Harvey Keitel, frequently cast as the baddest of the bad guys, holds his own in an unusually low-key role. Juliette Lewis twitches less than usual, but she's still one of the most irritatingly mannered young actresses around.
"From Dusk Till Dawn" was directed by Robert Rodriguez, who also did "Desperado" (starring Melanie Griffith's main squeeze, Antonio Banderas) and the only endurable segment of the recent disaster, "Four Rooms." This guy has tons -- TONS! -- of talent. But, like Tarantino, he's still enamored of adolescent excess. Although I like the flash-and-trash inventiveness of his current work, I look forward to the day when he decides to graduate to less sophomoric material.
"From Dusk Till Dawn" has obviously found an audience. It was number one at the box office during its debut weekend. Those with delicate sensibilities probably are smart enough to stay away.
The film is rated R. The script is salted with profanity; the landscape is littered with body parts; family entertainment this ain't.
Running time: 100 minutes. Released by: Miramax Dimension Films.
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