From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Well, here’s a change of pace, courtesy of SBS (whose October horror films have spilled over into a season of vampire films this month)… given they showed the TV series recently, I suppose it makes sense for them to go back to the source. This really is a particular kind of “none more mid-90s” film, isn’t it? Robert Rodriguez directing, Quentin Tarantino writing, George Clooney starring (ooooh he was young then), plus Harvey Keitel and Juliette Lewis in supporting roles and a shitload of violence and movie references… and, well, Tarantino trying to act. He’s probably not actually that bad—the character of Richie doesn’t exactly call for subtlety or nuance—but the people at the Razzies and the Stinkers Bad Movie Awards begged to differ, both nominating him for worst supporting actor that year. But he is, obviously, outshone by Clooney (whose magnetism is much more immediately striking) and Keitel (who’s really good as the preacher who’s lost his faith), not to mention Tom Savini’s jaw-dropping crotch piece. I’m presuming this was one of the first films of this kind to be kind of reliant on CGI for certain things, and to be honest I was a bit surprised by the amount of it (I keep forgetting CGI had already been around for quite a while since then; ILM had been doing it since the 80s), though I’m guessing there was still a fair bit of traditional animatronics and so forth… One thing is hard to deny, though: FDTD is a massive cheesefest of a particularly unabashed kind. Shit exploding, vampires on fire, miscellaneous severed body parts, all round carnage, no finer feelings or higher thoughts or greater ambition to be anything other than what it is in evidence, it’s kind of what I was hoping for. If it does anything wrong, it’s probably that it lets the setup—i.e.  the Gecko brothers’ adventures before arriving at the Titty Twister—go on for too long before its gloriously abrupt transition from a hostage thriller into balls-out vampire action, and could’ve done with being trimmed accordingly. On the whole, though, it basically delivers on its ludicrous B-grade promise; no high art, but that’s not always a bad thing…

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