From Quentin to Robert: We celebrate 23 years of From Dusk till Dawn

The year was 1992, A young video store clerk was premiering his first film at the Cannes Film Festival, Reservoir Dogs. That same year another young director from Texas was premiering his film El Mariachi. Both films were instant hits and showcased a talent the likes Hollywood wasn’t familiar with. Snappy dialogue, great action sequences, celebrities from the past who are in main roles dominating the screen once again in different lights. It was then that Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez met. The two bonded over the one thing they love: Movies. As time progressed, they wanted to work together but what would the project consist of? Quentin mentioned his love for horror movies and pitched an idea for a script he wrote called From Dusk till dawn. In reference to the drive-in theater days where they would show movies to FROM DUSK TILL DAWN. For those unfamiliar about the plot on the run from a bank robbery that left several police officers dead, Seth Gecko (George Clooney) and his paranoid, loose-cannon brother, Richard (Quentin Tarantino), hightail it to the Mexican border. Kidnapping preacher Jacob Fuller (Harvey Keitel) and his kids, the criminals sneak across the border in the family’s RV and hole up in a topless bar. Unfortunately, the bar also happens to be home base for a gang of vampires, and the brothers and their hostages have to fight their way out. The film boasts an extremely impressive cast of actors in small to big roles. For the moviegoer unfamiliar they may have recognized Tom Savini, George Clooney, Juliette Lewis, Harvey Keitel, Salma Hayek, Cheech Marin and of course Quentin Tarantino himself, but for the movie fanatic, they easily recognized the people that truly inspired Quentin and Robert to not only make this film but all their films. John Saxon, Greg Nicotero, Wayne Toth (who played a vampire in the movie, He’s done the FX for Rob zombie’s films) Marc Lawrence, Robert Kurtzman, Fred Williamson and the legendary Michael Parks. This was honestly the expendables of a horror movie before the film by Kurtzman “Wishmaster” which features a stellar cast itself. The film always holds a special place in my heart from the first time I saw it, I snuck into the theater since I was too young to purchase a ticket quietly sitting in my seat unbeknownst to the theater staff or customers. The movie came on my heart sank, I’m seeing my first Rodriguez/Tarantino film having to go to the video store renting to owning their movies on VHS. Yup, I once owned Reservoir Dogs on VHS along with Four Rooms and Pulp Fiction. The movie started out as a criminal heist film to eventually the horror movie we were waiting for, I studied every line, every scene, I saw so much and remembered pay attention to the movie at least. Here I was just a young teenager rooting for the bad guys, enjoying the violence. Growing up before the internet we just had horror magazines and tv spots MAYBE if we were lucky a tv show would talk about a movie or show behind the scenes even then it was just a snippet. You blink and it was over. So, at times watching the tv spots for horror movies I spent my time studying and breaking down the frames which is what I did for the film. Finally, the film was over. I was awe and couldn’t believe what I saw a great action horror movie with snippets of clever jokes. As stated, there was no internet so when going back to school it was my job to tell everyone what I saw and explain in detail as if I really did witness it all. For years the movie stayed on my mind. I had to own it, the posters, the script ANYTHING related to this film. Luckily, I was able to obtain a VHS copy of the film at Suncoast which back then was my go-to for horror movies. I wore out that tape as I did the box slip from taking it out or lending it to friends for them to see and we talk about. I also read the script which I studied and learned from for future films I wanted to write. As time went by, I eventually studied the many layers of the film. The script had scenes in it that were cut out or dialogue altered or not used. This helped me growing where I would watch films and even to this day go, move this, say this instead, alter this scene more so to reflect this character’s persona. Change this song, use this song. It was as if the teacher was watching me fly from my bird’s nest. Years later I finally met Tom Savini who talked about the film. He kept the machine gun crotch piece and explained that every vampire was modified to where they didn’t look alike, they were all unique designs. Tom joked about how his daughter would hang out with George causing pranks on set by which there were water gun fights with the dancers and Tom, George or whoever fell prey to them. Does the film have some decent sequels that actually aren’t bad? The tv series does a great job piecing everything together and adding new lore to the film. To anyone who worked on the film or the people reading this. If you’re upset, I snuck into the movie for free, don’t worry I have bought the film and posters so many times in my life that the universe is finely balanced.

 




Posted by Jai Alexis

Associate Producer for the films Teacher Shortage, Violet. writer of the short film "The First" when he's not working he's eating Mexican food and watching The Golden Girls

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