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The F*cking Black Sheep: From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

Sep. 13, 2012by: Ryan Doom

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

From Dusk Till Dawn (1997)
Directed by Robert Rodriquez

“But then they cross the border…and things get stupid.”

I’d be a Lindsay-Lohan-level-liar if I claimed From Dusk Till Dawn was a bomb. It isn’t. In fact, it has one of my favorite movie openings where our two villains hold a gas station secretly hostage while an unsuspecting cop wants to make small talk.

Actually, there’s a lot of damn fantastic stuff, most of which involve Quentin Tarantino being a creep, which he kinda is (or at least looks the part) anyway. The casting of Harvey Keitel is perfect, playing him against his usual manic character as the heart of the movie in more ways than one. Makes you wonder whether or not he should have sought out a bit more diverse work over the years. Sure, everyone loves him as a psychopath who likes to flash his junk, but a reserved Keitel, a Keitel with faith is a powerful thing. Cheech Martin has perhaps the best advertisement ever for a strip club and pulls a Peter Sellers in multiple roles, though the stripper salesman is the only one worth remembering. And then there’s Clooney in a role that helped define his movie stardom in nearly the same way Bruce Willis re-purposed himself as an action hero. Clooney plays a hellva bad guy, and like Keitel, it makes you wish he'd pull a Denzel and go villain all up in your ass.

So all’s good, yeah? Eh…well, even though there’s plenty to dig, too much shit ruins a good thing as the bad overtakes this movie like a flesh-eating virus; one of those nasty, fast progressing ones that dissolves the skin so quickly that the victim never even realizes it. That’s what happens in From Dusk Till Dawn. Just when everything worked, it kills itself when the tone flips, the genre flips, and the entertainment flips to become something else. It loses focus and purpose, which is a felony in most states.

It’s sort of like what happens in Full Metal Jacket, except that Full Metal Jacket splits its story in two in order to highlight the chaos and the pointlessness of war. It had something to say. From Dusk Till Dawn splits the movie…because it seemed kinda cool. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I love a dumb horror movie as much as the next, but the first half plays rich: brutal, unrelenting, and terrifying in the realistic kinda way. The Gecko brothers are the worst kind of criminal; the nightmare of suburban housewives. They're all the villain a movie needs.

But then they cross the border…and things get stupid. Is it funny? Sure. Does it get wacky? Yeah. Does it play stupid? Yes. Things start so strong that the rest seems lazy and dull. It’s as if Tarantino and co-writer Robert Kurtzman split the duties, wrote two different films, and then slapped them together with some discount duct tape. The movie worked as gritty Grindhouse crime, but then Rodriguez, in his usual fashion, wanted to special effect up the thing. And without a budget, it just doesn’t work. His brand of action has always felt generic, cheap, and unrealistic, and his do-it-yourself effects always look just that – done on the cheap. The bloody slapstick derails it just when it got rolling.

With all that said, I don’t have a problem with cheap, blood-soaked exploitation-horror films. What’s not to love? My problem comes from the lost potential. From Dusk Till Dawn could have been an all-time piece of badass crime. But then it had to have vampires that look more like demented Keebler Elves than creatures of the night. Which is a shame. I would have rather seen the brothers cross the border to see where they went next. Since we didn't get that...at least we got nudity. That usually makes up for any fault a movie has.

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7:48AM on 09/13/2012

Erm...

So the thing you don't like about the film is the thing that makes the film. The fact it goes from Road Movie to Vampire Movie and leaves every first time (uninformed) viewer going. OMFGWTF!
Great movie, great cast, great dialogue and great fun.
So the thing you don't like about the film is the thing that makes the film. The fact it goes from Road Movie to Vampire Movie and leaves every first time (uninformed) viewer going. OMFGWTF!
Great movie, great cast, great dialogue and great fun.
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9:49AM on 09/13/2012
Agreed. This edition of TFBS makes no sense whatsoever. Either he didn't see a trailer, didn't read the back of the VHS/DVD/look up the synopsis from IMDB, or really was blissfully ignorant as to what he'd be seeing.
Agreed. This edition of TFBS makes no sense whatsoever. Either he didn't see a trailer, didn't read the back of the VHS/DVD/look up the synopsis from IMDB, or really was blissfully ignorant as to what he'd be seeing.
10:15PM on 09/13/2012
Agree 100% with the original post
Agree 100% with the original post
+9
2:26PM on 09/13/2012
You've utterly missed the point of this movie.

If you want a good Tarantino crime film, you have Reservoir Dogs, Jackie Brown and Pulp Fiction. This was never supposed to be one, your argument here is negated by the fact that that's THE ENTIRE POINT OF THE FILM. It's a movie that is suddenly put upon, or infected, with a sudden dose of gory b-movie. It makes the point of these characters dealing with this ridiculous situation much more apt when the characters themselves didn't belong in the
You've utterly missed the point of this movie.

If you want a good Tarantino crime film, you have Reservoir Dogs, Jackie Brown and Pulp Fiction. This was never supposed to be one, your argument here is negated by the fact that that's THE ENTIRE POINT OF THE FILM. It's a movie that is suddenly put upon, or infected, with a sudden dose of gory b-movie. It makes the point of these characters dealing with this ridiculous situation much more apt when the characters themselves didn't belong in the situation in the first place. It's hard to care for b-movie characters when you know you're watching a b-movie, you spend most of the movie waiting for the zombies( or whatever) to attack, and the whole time the characters in the movie are the only people who didn't know this was going to happen. FDTD put you in their shoes, and when all hell breaks out and they're sat going "what.the.fuck?", you're sat just as confused and out of place as they are.
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+2
5:20PM on 09/14/2012
I loved the flick the moment I saw it. I rented it on VHS back in the mid 90's and back then I had no clue what to expect. The title seemed cool, Hayek looked good on the back cover and it had Harvey Keitel as the good guy and THE guy (sorry Noah) from ER as the bad guy. I had so much fun, from the start (seeing through the hand and overall Tarantino at his most creepiest) I was sold. But then the wtf quota just kept going up, in a positive way. I was as shocked as the characters and I guess
I loved the flick the moment I saw it. I rented it on VHS back in the mid 90's and back then I had no clue what to expect. The title seemed cool, Hayek looked good on the back cover and it had Harvey Keitel as the good guy and THE guy (sorry Noah) from ER as the bad guy. I had so much fun, from the start (seeing through the hand and overall Tarantino at his most creepiest) I was sold. But then the wtf quota just kept going up, in a positive way. I was as shocked as the characters and I guess that was the point of the movie. Till this day I never tell the twist to people who haven't seen it, even if it was almost 20 years ago and the twist happens at the halfway mark.
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6:43AM on 09/14/2012
This movie is all kinda of awesome, it was 2 movies in one, gory, violent, great dialogue,I never get tired of this movie. Plus that Salma Hayek dancing scene is worth the price alone.
This movie is all kinda of awesome, it was 2 movies in one, gory, violent, great dialogue,I never get tired of this movie. Plus that Salma Hayek dancing scene is worth the price alone.
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7:30PM on 10/25/2012
Ok, so here's the deal. Robert Rodriguez is to Quentin Tarantino as Dean Koontz is too Stephen King. Quentin is all about smart, witty dialogue, realism, and deals with actual issues. Robert Rodriguez is like 'Hey, I'm gonna be like Quentin except on cheesy, gory, action steroids!' The movie is Robert Rodriguez, I don't care how it opens up, all of his movies are the same in terms of what you should expect. The Faculty? Cheesy, B-Horror goodness. Planet Terror? Check. Machete? Double Check.
Ok, so here's the deal. Robert Rodriguez is to Quentin Tarantino as Dean Koontz is too Stephen King. Quentin is all about smart, witty dialogue, realism, and deals with actual issues. Robert Rodriguez is like 'Hey, I'm gonna be like Quentin except on cheesy, gory, action steroids!' The movie is Robert Rodriguez, I don't care how it opens up, all of his movies are the same in terms of what you should expect. The Faculty? Cheesy, B-Horror goodness. Planet Terror? Check. Machete? Double Check. Desperado/El Mariachi could go both ways, however I didn't warm up to those as much as I did From Dusk til Dawn.
I love how you say the first 20 minutes is great, then the last hour sucks, despite the fact that they don't even get into Mexico until 40 minutes in and the vampires don't show up until an hour and 3 minutes in. Plus you are sucking Tarantino's nuts so hard, you forgot to mention what a piece of crap actor he is. Granted he gets the creeper thing down, but from what I saw I wouldn't be surprised if that's how he is in real life (he did play a similar role in Planet Terror).
Fron Dusk til Dawn is a classic, and hey if you wanted the gritty crime masterpiece, you should have Tarantino go back and remake it in HIS image. Me, I'll take the sleeze Rodriguez brings anyday seeing as how when put back to back, Planet Terror was a much more fun flick than the overly long and boring Death Proof.
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11:37AM on 09/13/2012
From Dusk Till Dawn is very underrated. Supposing that Salma Hayek wasn't in it, it would have been even more underrated. Anyway, the movie is very fun to watch. You can't guess the ending. Plus, Tom Savini's "Dick Gun" is just priceless.
From Dusk Till Dawn is very underrated. Supposing that Salma Hayek wasn't in it, it would have been even more underrated. Anyway, the movie is very fun to watch. You can't guess the ending. Plus, Tom Savini's "Dick Gun" is just priceless.
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3:01AM on 09/14/2012
Thank you for writing this. This movie has one of the best opening 20 minutes, and the crappiest goddamn next hour ever. I love the beginning, the dialogue, the tension, Tarantino's character - EVERYTHING. Missed potential is right. Good article
Thank you for writing this. This movie has one of the best opening 20 minutes, and the crappiest goddamn next hour ever. I love the beginning, the dialogue, the tension, Tarantino's character - EVERYTHING. Missed potential is right. Good article
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+0
11:28AM on 09/13/2012
This was very hit n' miss for me , with stretches in both ' halves ' of the flick rubbing me the right way , and some just coming across lame . That being said , I do own the Film in every available format . It's a flick I like to pull out every now and then , just for a good time bloody romp . High Art it isn't , but a fairly cool piece of escapist fiction it is .
This was very hit n' miss for me , with stretches in both ' halves ' of the flick rubbing me the right way , and some just coming across lame . That being said , I do own the Film in every available format . It's a flick I like to pull out every now and then , just for a good time bloody romp . High Art it isn't , but a fairly cool piece of escapist fiction it is .
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10:44AM on 09/13/2012
I knew going in what was gonna happen. But it doesn't change the fact that the Gecko brothers are a lot more intriguing to me than the vampire angle. Actually, even than works until Richie bites it (er, I mean gets killed). It still features what is probably Quentin Tarantino's best performance in front of the camera. I still think, for what it is, it's not a bad movie. There are plenty of memorable moments. But the second half devolves into essentially a zombie movie, minus the sympathetic
I knew going in what was gonna happen. But it doesn't change the fact that the Gecko brothers are a lot more intriguing to me than the vampire angle. Actually, even than works until Richie bites it (er, I mean gets killed). It still features what is probably Quentin Tarantino's best performance in front of the camera. I still think, for what it is, it's not a bad movie. There are plenty of memorable moments. But the second half devolves into essentially a zombie movie, minus the sympathetic characters. If they saved Richie's death till the end, it would've had more of an emotional punch to it.
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2:35PM on 09/16/2012
@Loise, you make $27h thats great going girl good for you! My story is that I quit working at shoprite to work online, seriously I couldn't be happier I work when I want and where I want. And with a little effort I easily bring in $35h and sometimes even as much as $85hheres a good example of what i'm doing,>>> Green32.com
@Loise, you make $27h thats great going girl good for you! My story is that I quit working at shoprite to work online, seriously I couldn't be happier I work when I want and where I want. And with a little effort I easily bring in $35h and sometimes even as much as $85hheres a good example of what i'm doing,>>> Green32.com
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