From Dusk Till Dawn

From Dusk Till Dawn ★★★½

While it is refreshing when horror films hide their identities in other genres, waiting until some impactful reveal of their true natures, this can create a jarring sense of teetering balance. Such is the case with Robert Rodriguez's "From Dusk Till Dawn," a crime drama that transforms into a full-bore vampire flick by film's end. Violent, bloody, and often exciting, the film is engaging and darkly appealing, but its self-indulgent side often gets the better of it.

Beginning with a crime spree of the notorious Gecko brothers, the film follows the deadly duo as they murder, rob, and kidnap their way across Texas. Meeting up with a family of three, the Geckos cross the border into Texas where they run into a club packed with vampires. The narrative is split into two halves and is compelling for much of the film. The switch from caper to horror is jarring in retrospect, but it also creates an admirable narrative texture.

The film provides everything anyone might expect from a Rodriquez-directed, Quentin Tarantino-penned film: saucy language, spicy situations, and Tex-Mex visual sensibilities. George Clooney, Tarantino, Harvey Keitel, and Juliette Lewis lead a capable cast, and Rodriguez injects personality into the film though his direction.

Creature effects are things of grotesque beauty as KNB Effects Group pulls out all the stops with their monstrous, demonic army of undead. Bloody, violent, and explosive, the vampire-centric portion of the film provides over-the-top horror fun.

By its climax, "From Dusk Till Dawn" has become quite a ride. It is a little too loud, narratively flat, and self-indulgent to take seriously, but it is, nonetheless, entertaining and outrageous. It is a blood and tequila-soaked slice of cinematic cool.

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