Director – Robert Rodriguez
Cast – George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, Quentin Tarantino, Juliette Lewis, Ernest Liu, Tom Savini, Salma Hayek, Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin, Fred Williamson
Release Year – 1996
Reviewed by John of the Dead
How can a film that combines the minds of infamous writer/directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, whom are both avid horror fans, not be super awesome? You are right…it is NOT possible! After Quentin found fame and success with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, along with Robert finding the same with El Mariachi and Desperado(El Mariachi’s sequel), the BFFs(haha) finally came out with their first horror film, and boy did they succeed! With direction duties by Rodriguez and a screenplay written by Tarantino, this film provides a tons of awesome dialogue, explosions, “run and gun” scenes, and most importantly…great horror and GORE! With an all star cast including Tarantino himself acting alongside George Clooney, as well as Harvey Keitel(Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction) and infamous horror effects guru Tom Savini, this film had the ingredients for a classic “pulp” film before production even began.
The film follows Clooney and Tarantino as the Seth and Richard Gecko AKA The Gecko Brothers, so aptly named by the media. The Gecko brothers are ruthless outlaws who have murdered 16 people, many of them law enforcement, on their journey through Texas to the Mexican city of El Rey, a safe haven for many criminals. Along their way they run into Jacob Fuller(Harvey Keitel) and his son and daughter, who are traveling in a motor home. The Gecko brothers seize the opportunity and force the family to help smuggle them across the Mexican border and to an isolated bar where they will meet up with a contact that will lead the brothers to El Rey. If the family helps them, they live; if the family does anything they don’t like…they receive a bullet to the head. Kapeesh?!? However upon arriving at the bar, properly named The Titty Twister, they have actually stumbled upon a feeding ground for some vicious vampires which use the bar to lure unsuspecting boozehounds to their doom. The bar is open “From Dusk Till Dawn”, that should have been a sign eh?
This film is the epitome of awesome. An all-star cast, badass dialogue that leaves you thinking “damn…that was clever!“, as well as some of the sweetest vampire carnage caught on film, this film is a masterpiece. Along with the big names come cameos and small roles by many of Robert’s cohorts, which include Cheech Marin and Danny Trejo, making this film is a fun ride from beginning to end and very pleasing to Robert‘s fans. The first half of the film is much like Robert and Quentin’s previous films, with character development at the highest priority mixed in with random acts of awesome violence and quite a few scenes of sexual deviance, at the hands of Quentin’s character of course. Haha!
The second half of the film takes place in the The Titty Twister, a badass bar with lots of booze, naked dancers (including an infamous dance from Salma Hayek), live music from Tito and Tarantula, and soon enough…lots of awesome vampire mayhem. The second half grasps you violently and forces you to hold on for the ride until the epic climax that I found very fulfilling. As you should expect from the Rodriguez/Tarantino duo, we are given some pretty unique characters that you will love and remember. We see Tom Savini as “Sex Machine”, a biker with a “crotch gun”(yes…a gun that functions on his crotch!), and a seasoned Vietnam veteran named “Frost”, who has the ability to rip out someone’s heart in less than a second. Badass enough? The special effects in the film are very well done, especially because we get a fair amount of live-action kills and dismemberment. Some “transformation’ scenes are done with CGI, but it doesn’t get cheesy and quite honestly probably could not have been done live-action to begin with. I also really loved the look of the vampires. These really were not the typical vampires that look overly human with sharp fangs, these vampires were BLOODTHIRSTY BEASTS that dismembered the patrons, including the house band making makeshift instruments out of the skin and appendages of the dead patrons. Another very important note is that the vampires each looked different, with no two really looking alike. I applaud Robert Rodriguez for making sure that we were given nothing overdone, and leaving us with a very fulfilling horror film that belongs in everyone’s DVD collection.
Overall, this film is awesome! It has everything you could ask for, and is sure to please genre and non-genre fans. Highly recommended.