From Dusk Till Dawn The Series

From Dusk Till Dawn, From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money, From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter, and From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series are all currently available on instant Netflix

From Dusk Till Dawn

 

From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series (2014) – Rated TV-14

Bank-robbing brothers encounter vengeful lawmen and demons south of the border in this original series based on Robert Rodriguez’ cult horror film.”

I am not sure how I feel about From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series. Robert Rodriguez has taken the 1996 movie he made from Quentin Tarantino’s screenplay and adapted it into a television series. There are certainly some differences but he has taken a 108 minute film and turned it into a 450 minute television season.

While the movie is quite a hoot, the vampire action doesn’t actually come around until the third act. Rodriguez certainly attracts a good cast. George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, and Salma Hayek do the heavy lifting. Quentin Tarantino, Cheech Marin (playing three roles), Danny Trejo, Tom Savini, Michael Parks, John Saxon (blink and you’ll miss him), and Fred Williamson also appear.

From Dusk Till Dawn’s success was followed up by a quick direct-to-DVD sequel (Texas Blood Money) and prequel (The Hangman’s Daughter). These did not have Rodriguez’ wonderful touch with action made on the cheap and did not have Tarantino’s quirky dialogue but were serviceable enough.

Texas Blood Money starred Robert Patrick and Bo Hopkins. Danny Trejo and Bruce Campbell put in appearances as well. The Hangman’s Daughter features Michael Parks, Temuera Morrison, and Rebecca Gayheart as well as another appearance by Danny Trejo.

Now, almost two decades after the first film, Rodriguez has made a series out of his cult classic. He has packed it with hispanic and non-hispanic actors and premiered it on the new El Rey Network. It is mostly in English with some Spanish bits here and there.

His timing is quite good as not only are hispanic shows in short supply but horror is very hot on television right now with The Walking Dead having been joined by The Strain, American Horror Story, Sleepy Hollow, The Vampire Diaries, and Penny Dreadful. True Blood just ended a seven year run. Constantine premieres in about a week.

Being a fan of the original movie, the television series does drag a bit as we do not have the big bar scene until episode 8. Rodriguez keeps the pace moving fairly well, although everyone seems to have a ton of backstory.

D.J. Cotrona and Zane Holtz star as Seth and Richie Gecko. I liked the change to their dynamic. The TV Seth thinks he is the movie Seth but is nowhere near as in charge as he was in the movie. The character of Richie is considerably fleshed out and is no longer just the amusing hallucinating sociopath played by Tarantino in the movie.

Eiza Gonzalez is no Salma Hayek but her character is also quite a bit different. Jesse Garcia plays Texas Ranger Freddie Gonzalez, a character who is far more important than his equivalent character in the movie.

Don Johnson plays Earl McGraw, taking over from Michael Parks. Fun fact: The character of Earl McGraw first appears in From Dusk Till Dawn (1996). Despite his unfortunate fate in the opening minutes of that movie, he appears in Kill Bill as the lawman who discovers Kiddo’s body after the Wedding Chapel Massacre and is in both halves of Grindhouse (Planet Terror and Death Proof).

Robert Patrick returns from Texas Blood Money, this time taking over the role of Jacob Fuller from Harvey Keitel. Wilmer Valderrama is almost unrecognizable as Carlos. Jake Busey, Adrianne Palicki, William Sadler, and James Remar all put in welcome guest appearances. I guess Rodriguez is saving Danny Trejo for the second season.

I have to assume that violence is limited by the television rating/network but, while it isn’t the complete bloodbath that the movie was, it still impresses in the gore category. There is less nudity and the language is definitely toned down.

From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series takes awhile to get going and may be a bit of a slog if you remember the movie but there are quite a few (welcome) creative differences and by the end, it is definitely its own show. I liked it, albeit with reservations, and look forward to what they do in season two.

New Netflix Streaming Releases for the Week of 8/26/14

There is a broad spectrum of movies this week. Although I haven’t seen it, my recommendation would be The Unknown Known as all of Errol Morris’ previous documentaries have been fascinating.

Anime: Noragami

Comedy: Thanks for Sharing, The Dick Knost Show, Barbershop 2: Back in Business

The Unknown Known

Documentary: Serial Killer Culture, The Unknown Known

Drama: Middle of Nowhere, Go for Sisters, Test, The Motel Life

Family: Have You Met My Ghoulfriend?, Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale

Dark Space

Fantasy & Science Fiction: Dark Space

Foreign: Dhoom 3, When I Saw You, The Chef The Actor The Scoundrel

Horror: Blood Glacier

From Dusk Till Dawn

Television: From Dusk Till Dawn, Bojack Horseman, Happy Valley, 30 for 30: Hillsborough, 30 for 30: White Blue and White, Being Mary Jane, and new episodes of Foyle’s War and Parenthood

Thriller: Blue Ruin

From Dusk Till Dawn

From Dusk Till Dawn is currently available on instant Netflix.

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) – Rated R

“Robbers-on-the-lam Seth and Richard Gecko take an ex-preacher and his kids hostage. On a race to the Mexican border, they rendezvous at a cantina, not knowing the owners and clientele are bloodthirsty vampires in this ode to 1960s horror movies.”

“I’m not gonna drain you completely. You’re gonna turn for me. You’ll be my slave. You’ll live for me. You’ll eat bugs because I order it. Why? Because I don’t think you’re worthy of human blood. You’ll feed on the blood of stray dogs. You’ll be my foot stool.”

Director and editor Robert Rodriguez makes two separate movies here. The first is a criminals on the run saga which takes up quite a bit of screentime but then it morphs into a vampire survival tale. Although much of it is unprintable, Tarantino’s script has a lot of punch and great characters.

George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino play the outlaw Gecko Brothers. Clooney is firm, loyal and desperate as bank robber Seth but Tarantino is off-the-wall as his crazy brother Richard. They take a family hostage on their way to Mexico. The father is an embittered ex-priest, Jacob Fuller, played by Harvey Keitel. His children are Kate and Scott Fuller played by Juliette Lewis and Ernest Liu.

Rodriguez packs the movie with guest stars. Before the bar, John Saxon cameos as FBI Agent Chase. John Hawkes, Oscar-nominated for Winter’s Bone, has an early role as Pete the store clerk. Kelly Preston (Mrs. John Travolta) is a newscaster.

At the bar, makeup artist Tom Savini plays Sex Machine. Makeup artists Greg (Walking Dead) Nicotero plays Sex Machine’s friend. Director Robert Rodriguez pops up as a bandmember. Fred “The Hammer” Williamson plays Frost. The lovely Salma Hayek plays Santanico Pandemonium (and dances with a snake for you fetishists). Cheech Marin plays three roles: a border guard, Chet, and Carlos.

The criminals on the run saga is pretty good, mainly due to Tarantino’s funny script. It takes awhile to get to the vampire portion of the movie but once there, Rodriguez makes it a non-stop roller coaster ride of vampire destruction. Special effects are good and fun, with the vampires perishing in a myriad of ways. They use a lot of green blood to get some of the killings past the ratings board (an old trick).

People Watch: The wonderful Michael Parks plays Texas Ranger Earl McGraw. He would reprise that character again in Kill Bill parts one and two as well as both segments of Grindhouse (Planet Terror and Death Proof). He also plays writer Ambrose Bierce in From Dusk Till Dawn 3.

Sequel-itis: What happens when you take a franchise and get rid of director Robert Rodriguez, writer Quentin Tarantino, and actors Harvey Keitel, George Clooney, Salma Hayek, and Juliette Lewis? The straight to video back-to-back sequels – From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999) with Robert Patrick and Bo Hopkins and From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter (1999) with Michael Parks. The only connecting thread is Danny Trejo but the sequels are not very good.

From Dusk Till Dawn

Prior to sending up exploitation films with Grindhouse, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino filmed a vampire exploitation film called From Dusk Till Dawn. This movie is available on instant Netflix. The two sequels are not available but you aren’t missing much as Rodriguez didn’t direct the sequels and Tarantino didn’t write them.

From Dusk Till Dawn

WATCH: From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) – “Robbers-on-the-lam Seth (George Clooney) and Richard Gecko (Quentin Tarantino) take an ex-preacher (Harvey Keitel) and his kids hostage. On a race to the Mexican border, they rendezvous at a cantina, not knowing the owners and clientele are bloodthirsty vampires. That’s when director Robert Rodriguez (Desperado) abruptly switches from hostage drama to tongue-in-cheek, vampiric melee, creating a blood-stained ode to 1960s Mexican horror movies.”

This is a rude, crude and violent tale as might be expected from Tarantino and Rodriguez. Quentin Tarantino overacts as always but it comes off well here as do George Clooney and Harvey Keitel in more restrained performances. It takes a good long while for the vampires to show up but once they do, it’s a non-stop thrill ride. There are small, fun over-the-top performances from the lovely Salma Hayek, Danny Trejo, make-up wizard Tom Savini, and Fred “The Hammer” Williamson. The special effects are lavish and over-the-top and they take a page from the Evil Dead book and use green blood to help with the ratings board.

People watchers: look for cameos by John Saxon and makeup artists Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger and a small role by Michael Parks as Earl McGraw (a role he repeats in Kill Bill and both parts of Grindhouse).