Plot: What’s it about?
Le’t face it, unless you’ve been in a cave the last few years, you’ve heard of a Director by the name of Quentin Tarentino. Most popular for the ultra hip and popular, Pulp Fiction, Tarentino made the leap from a humble video store clerk to one of the most popular directors..ever. While Pulp Fiction was hailed as a masterpiece, I personally found his earlier directing effort a bit more interesting, Reservoir Dogs. Most recently he has given us Jackie Brown, but I put that in not nearly the same category as the previous titles. While both Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs deal with hard core violence and gangster warfare, From Dusk Til Dawn merely touches on it, even though the two main characters are escaped criminals. What this movie seems to be most popular for is that it gave a rising star by the name of George Clooney his first chance to carry a movie. And while From Dusk Til Dawn didn’t exactly strike the box office gold that Pulp Fiction did, it was very entertaining and a very “unusual” movie…
Having first heard that this movie was a cross between Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, I didn’t really know what to expect. After seeing it, I can say that this is half right. First of all, the movie wasn’t directed by Quentin Tarentino, but Robert Rodriguez (however Tarentino did collaborate on the screenplay). From Dusk Til Dawn is a bit hard to put into words, in that half of the movie is “normal”, while the second half is considered more of a horror movie. Crooks Seth (George Clooney) and Ritchie (Quentin Tarentino) have just escaped from prision. Heading through Texas trying to avoid the FBI, they rob a bank and take a teller hostage. Typical cops and robbers story…though just like Reservoir Dogs, we don’t see the robbery here either, just the aftermath. Their goal is to get to Mexico where they will be “free” and can spend the rest of their life living it good (with stolen money, of course). This doesn’t happen though, and the Gekko brothers bump into a priest, Jacob (Harvey Keitel) and his two children. Jacob and his family are on an RV trip and the Gekko brothers hijack and kidnap the family so their trip to Mexico will be all the easier. As mentioned before, this is the non-horror part of the movie, though there is a questionable scene and content in a few places…
Once in Mexico, Seth and Ritchie have plans to meet at Dawn outside a local truckers hangout. What they don’t realize is that this is no ordinary bar! Believing tha they’re home free, they kick back and then, literally, all hell breaks loose. The population of the bar’s employees consists not only of roughnecks, but they’re also bloodsucking vampires. Initially, a majority of the bar’s crowd is killed after a massive fight, but it comes down to the family to not only fight against themselves, but they now have to fight to stay alive (forget the FBI)! Now to tell a lot more would be to give the whole movie away. George Clooney is great, still sporting his “Caesar” haircut at the time, and though not the best actor, Quentin Tarentino does manage to turn in a halfway decent performance. The cast consists of some big names, and some names who are bigger now. Selma Hayek, Harvey Keitel, Cheech Martin and Juliette Lewis help support a cast led by Clooney. If you’re a fan of vampire movies, or just like anything associated with Tarentino, then I have to say that From Dusk Til Dawn is a movie that needs to be in your collection. It should be noted that this is the review of the new Special Edition, and not the previously released bare bones edition.
Video: How does it look?
Perhaps the most (and only) disappointing thing about this new edition of From Dusk Til Dawn is the fact that it’s the same transfer as the original bare bones DVD that came out over a year ago. While Disney has produced some of the better-looking DVD’s and continues to impress with thier 16:9 support, this disc is proof that they can still ruin good titles with the same sub-par transfer. Though the movie is only four years old, it still has it’s faults. Most noticeably, the pixelation and artifacting that occurs. Some of the other movies of this age (and by Disney as well) don’t seem to have this problem, but this movie is very dark, and very few shards of light appear in the second half of the film, altogether. Why they went to the trouble to put together such an impressive DVD Collector’s set and then do this (which is nothing) to the transfer leaves me boggled. Still, if you can get past the way this looks, it does sound impressive and have many a supplement to make up for it. But c’mon…the whole point to doing a re-issue is to correct what went wrong before…right?
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio, aside from the weakness of the video, is very active. As mentioned above, this movie is sort of two different movies ( before the vampires and after the vampires). While the sound is solid throughout, it really takes off during the second half of the movie. Bats sound throughout the rear channels for 5 minutes at a time and the gunshots (of which there are more than plenty) have a “depth” about them tha make it sound really cool. Yes, cool. The 5.1 mix appears to also be the same used in the original DVD, but the original didn’t have a problem here either. All in all, the dialogue is clear with no distortion and it’s a shame that the movie couldn’t look as good as it sounds.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The point of re-releasing this was to try and sell the same product again. Yes, believe it or not, Disney has been known to do that. Virtually all of the supplements are identical to that of the special editon Laserdisc that was released a few years back (though that ran $70, whereas this is around $30). The biggest treat is a feature-length commentary by Quentin Tarantino and Director Robert Rodriguez. Tarantino acts like it’s his movie (and it sort of is), but let’s Rodriguez take some time to explain what was left out and why. All in all it’s a good commentary from someone who we want to hear more from. There are also outtakes which feature a very angered George Clooney when he forgets his lines, a Hollywood goes to Hell featurette, theatrical trailer and some music videos (deep breath)…Also included is “The Art of Making the Movie” wit commentary by Quentin Tarantino and some deleted scenes, with some cast and crew bios rounding it all out. Now also included is a full length movie called “Full Tilt Boogie” which is a documentary of the making of From Dusk Til Dawn. Thoug it starts out rather funny, it’s just as long as the regular movie. All in all, the only thing I could really find to complain about is the transfer, fix this and it’s a superb disc (discs, rather). But as it is, it’s full of supplements and it’s a great sounding movie, too. If you haven’t seen it, this is a DVD worth checking out.