Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Action,Comedy,Horror,Sci-Fi,Thrillers Rated: From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

Rated: From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

From Dusk Till Dawn is an early collaboration between Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Therefore, if you’re looking for a seriously good movie, look elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong, both Rodriguez and Tarantino have talents, but this film is too early in either of their careers to fully realize those talents. Just look at the plot; it’s at first a gripping crime thriller that abruptly turns into a cheesy gore fest. At that point in the film, all the anticipation, characterization, and themes are abruptly abandoned. Its almost as if they started writing two separate movies, one from the beginning and one from the end only to find out that they were of different genres. Yeah, it is meant to be fun, but how can such an uneven plot be fun to watch? I found it quite painful. If you want to make a silly horror movie, you’ve got to stick with it throughout. Instead, Tarantino and Rodriguez bait the audience in with an initially interesting and solid premise, only to throw it in their faces at the end. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being given the runaround, especially from a movie.

Synopsis: The Gecko brothers are notorious crime partners robbing and murdering their way through Texas heading for the border. To get across said border, they kidnap a recently-widowed pastor and his two children who are on the road in their family RV. Once across the border, the Gecko brothers are instructed to meet someone at a mysterious bar for an exchange. This isn’t an ordinary bar, though, and soon both the Gecko brothers and the pastor and his family question their motives as they find out the real meaning behind the bar’s seemingly harmless slogan…

Acting: A film written by two men with large egos unfortunately stars two men with big egos; As a surprise to absolutely no one, Quentin Tarantino writes himself into this one as the crazy Gecko brother (Richard), and as a surprise, George Clooney portraits the more sane Seth Gecko. For the most part Tarantino fits the role well, because lets face it, his biggest characteristics are annoyance and creepiness, and Richard Gecko is both of those things. George Clooney, on the other hand, is a strange fit. He does the most consistent job of anyone in this movie, but it is difficult to imagine why he agreed to do this movie, and even more difficult to imagine how his career survived. The same can be said with the man portraying the pastor, Harvey Keitel. He doesn’t seem like he fits in this movie, and as a result his performance is inconsistent, as is most of the supporting cast. Okay (16/25) 

  • Quentin Tarantino: Okay
  • George Clooney: Good
  • Harvey Keitel: Bad
  • Supporting Cast: Okay

Script/Plot: This is a tale of two plots, colliding towards the end. Initially the movie feels like a typical Tarantino movie, with focus on dialogue and character qualities with a heaping side of sick twisted violence. Then once the movie enters its final act, the Rodriguez-ness takes over. We get wildly inconsistent characters, whose actions and dialogue seem controlled more by the phrase “wouldn’t it be cool if….” than any sort of purposeful coherency. We also get plenty of blood, guts, gore, naked women, and booze. This would be fine, except for the fact that the script looses all intelligence in order to showcase these, uh, male entertainment factors.  Bad (12/25) 

  • Dialogue: Okay
  • Script: Bad
  • Plot: Bad
  • Themes/Messages: Okay

Direction: Rodriguez does do an adequate job directing though. There are lots of details in the background that make the film more interesting and artistic, even if what is going on in the foreground is neither of those things. The action is fast and gritty, but lacks sophistication and focus. Too often does the movie cut from one point of interest to another without adequately allowing the time for the first action to play out completely. Alternatively, there are a few cases when the scenes go on too long, compromising the believability of what you are witnessing. Overall, Rodriguez’s direction makes the movie feel like a B-movie, and it works well enoungh, even if you would want more from your movie than cheap thrills. Okay (15/25)

  • Professionalism: Okay
  • Flow: Bad
  • Editing: Okay

Special Effects: This is a gore-filled movie, as you probably have come to expect from these two. The difference though, is that even if what you are witnessing is pretty gross, it is done in a tongue-and-cheek manner. What this means is that the movie doesn’t trigger the gag reflex as often as you might think, and doesn’t feel as sick and twisted as other Tarantino-related pieces. Overall, the special effects are quite cheesy, but they work well because that is the look that the film makers were going for, and any added realism would only compromise the entertainment factor of the movie further. Good (22/25)

The Verdict: (65/100) = D (Avoid)

  • What’s Good: The story starts off on the right foot, and for a while makes a believable case as to being worth watching. Also, if you like gratuitous (but silly) violence, this is your flick.
  • What’s Bad: And then suddenly the story implodes and all intelligence vanishes. The hit-or-miss acting and juvenile script then continue kicking the film while it is down.
  • Summary: It’s pretty much what you’d expect would happen when you give 2 grown children a few million dollars to make a movie with.

My previous review: Rated: When Harry Met Sally (1989)

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2 thoughts on “Rated: From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)”

  1. I hate to say it, especially because I loved “Planet Terror” and “Machete,” but I totally agree with your review of this film. It is completely mediocre at its best moments. I suppose it is ok work for a director’s early film, but I agree: if you haven’t seen this movie yet, don’t waste your time. There are WAY too many actual good films out there to lose a couple of hours of your life to this work…

  2. I think From Dusk Till Dawn is a brilliant film, if you don’t take it seriously of course. It’s stupid, but it’s fun to watch and it’s very memorable.

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