Happy October and welcome! All 31 days this month, I will be reviewing all the films I watch in the month of October. They’re mostly a selection of horror or suspense films in my own library or films and shows that have been recommended to me.
Please enjoy and leave a comment!
And if you missed any of our past reflections, take a look:
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
The Haunting (1963)
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
The Other (1972)
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
The Shining (1980)
Halloween II (1981)
The Evil Dead (1981)
Halloween III – Season of the Witch (1982)
Teen Wolf (1985)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
The Monster Squad (1987)
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
The Lost Boys (1987)
Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987)
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
They Live (1988)
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Ghostbusters II (1989)
Predator 2 (1990)
The Addams Family (1991)
Alien 3 (1992)
Army of Darkness (1992)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Crow (1994)
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
Our next film is…
WATCHING: From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
DIRECTOR: Robert Rodriguez, who had just finished the second chapter of his Mariachi Trilogy in Desperado. I have had a deep respect for Rodriguez. The guy not only loves what he does, he’s also directed some of the most fun action films (and kid’s films) I have ever seen. He also cooks and occasionally releases his cooking videos as Bluray special features.
WHAT IS IT?: From Dusk Till Dawn is an action/road film which starts out like the story of two outlaws on the run — and takes a random sharp left turn into hell at the halfway point.
In 1990, Quentin Tarantino was paid $1,500 dollars by Robert Kurtzman to write the script “From Dusk Till Dawn”.. A few years later, when Tarantino was doing his “Reservoir Dogs” tour and Robert Rodriguez was on tour for “El Mariachi”, the two became fast friends and vowed to work together. Tarantino dropped the fact that he was working on an action movie set in Texas and Mexico and sent the script to Rodriguez who read it and, according to Tarantino, called to tell him “I wanna do this TOMORROW!”
Rodriguez would end up directing the picture following Desperado and Tarantino was fresh off Pulp Fiction by the time it went into production.
THE PLOT: Two murderous bank robbers, Seth and Richie Gecko (George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino, respectively), are on the run from the law following a series of daylight bank robberies. Together, they hijack a family headed for Mexico in their RV and attempt to head for Mexico so the two of them can finally “retire” from their life of crime.
When they get to their meeting spot in Mexico, (a stripper joint/dive bar called “The Titty Twister”), they figure that this is the first ray of sunshine in a future unending world of sunshine — until their violent antics come back to bite them — literally.
WHAT DID CRITICS THINK?: The critics were mostly positive about it, praising the action and the pure insanity of an action film morphing into a horror film. Entertainment Weekly loved the execution and said that Tarantino and Rodriguez made cooking the popcorn for their popcorn film into an art while Roger Ebert said that the film was meat-and-potatoes action with “clever touches”.
WHAT DID I THINK?: There’s a lot I could say about the film…and I’m gonna tread as carefully as I can…
This film is 25 years old (damn, I’m old) and it revels in ultra-violence and blood as most horror pieces do and as Tarantino’s other films have. It includes some legitimately awful misogynist stuff (including the bloody aftermath of a murder involving Tarantino’s character, Richie, and a female bank teller the Gecko Brothers kidnapped) and that just hasn’t aged well.
What’s good is that Seth off-sets his mentally deranged brother. He doesn’t approve of what Richie does (even though he’d kill to protect himself and his brother) and one gets the feeling that he’d murder Richie and leave his body behind but can’t because, deep down, he has a heart and a family bond.
One of the most interesting things about this movie is that it feels like two different films. The first half is dedicated to Seth and Richie’s getaway from Texas and the border-crossing into Mexico. The second half takes place in Mexico where it suddenly, and without warning (unless you’ve seen film trailers for it) suddenly turns into a horror flick involving vampires.
That’s probably what makes this movie so fun for me and it’s also why I didn’t tell any of my friends about that when I recommended it to them. I have fond memories of two of them being like “what the actual fuck was THAT? The first half, they’re on the run and then suddenly there’s fucking VAMPIRES!”
It’s just so RANDOM…like, true to life, something else Seth has to deal with: VAMPIRES.
And the whole resolution of the film treats it that way, too, which just makes the premise so humorous.
From Dusk Till Dawn is Tarantino and Rodriguez at their best. They’d work together a few more times but this was just two movie-lovers seeing what kind of anarchy they could get away with before making their next mash-up masterpiece…which we will get to…