From Dusk Til Dawn - * *

Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino have produced an exquisite bloodbath of a horror film, which revels in gore and violence. If that first sentence hasn’t already scared you away, be warned that although better than many other films of its ilk, From Dusk Til Dawn doesn’t begin to approach the quality of the potential of its creators. The film opens with the infamous Gecko brothers on a cross country trek, fighting and killing the law that they can’t outrun. George Clooney is Seth Gecko, a bank robber with a sense of honor. Tarantino plays his brother, Richard, the unstable one whom Seth has to constantly restrain from becoming a murderous raping animal. The pair kidnap a family on their flight to Mexico, including doubting ex-priest Jacob (Harvey Keitel) and his young, naive daughter Kate (Juliette Lewis). However, the fugitives run into some very unexpected trouble when they drop by a strip club that is actually the front for a clan of evil bloodthirsty vampires. What follows is more of a cross between Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Aliens than Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Interview With a Vampire. The blood flows by gallons at a time, along with pus, exploding bodies, and limbs, limbs, limbs. At the heart of most of Tarantino’s screenplays is a shocking plot twist, and there is no exception here. Unfortunately, the twist (the vampires) is not unexpected, and therefore not terribly shocking…yet the film acts as if it is. The first full half of the film proceeds in one direction, and the last half in the other. This tactic might have worked if the twist was a shocking surprise, but all the advertising, marketing and even the title to some extent announced its presence. As a result, the first half seems slow, plodding and unnecessary. As long as you don’t have a queasy stomach, the second half is fun, though. As the two brothers in crime, Clooney and Tarantino fare well (in fact, it’s Tarantino’s best acting so far…but that’s not saying much). Clooney is easily the better of the two, and placed in the more sympathetic role. Keitel does an uncharacteristically poor job (mostly due to poor writing on Tarantino’s part). Overall, fans of the genre will like it, especially in the no-holds barred second half. Others are advised to avoid this one.

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