George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Ernest Liu
Director: Robert Rodriguez
“Two criminals and their hostages unknowingly seek temporary refuge in a truck stop populated by vampires, with chaotic results.”(IMDb)
What to Expect
Why You Should Watch It
The obscene amount of camp and gore nearly overshadows the compelling plot and well-developed characters, but like the sunlight coming in from 20 different angles in its penultimate scene, the movie’s better qualities still shine through the cracks. This hilarious cult film was George Clooney’s first major movie role and is worth watching for the breakthrough performance that skyrocketed him to stardom.
Rainy Day Flick (C)
The characters are great in this. Seth (Clooney) is a dangerous criminal, yet refuses to kill for the sake of killing. He just wants to run away to Mexico with his brother and his money and not bother anyone. Richie (Tarantino) is terrifyingly creepy and disturbing, yet protected and loved by Seth. Jacob Fuller (Keitel) is a renounced pastor who adorably retains his Christian morals anyway, as opposed to embracing the bottle, lascivious tendencies or even swearing. He’s also implied to be the purest of all the characters by being the only one in the Titty Twister decked out in white. But sadly, even his purity couldn’t save him in the end.
I always had a hard time understanding why Tarantino and Rodriguez chose to make a film that spends over half its runtime focusing on an entertaining plot, only to completely throw it out the window in the last 40 minutes. It’s a bold creative choice, and confusingly shocking to anyone who doesn’t know what’s coming, but why? Apparently because Tarantino took a page from Jim Thompson’s novel The Getaway when writing the script. Both stories follow a pair attempting to flee to Mexico after committing a bank robbery. And just like in Dusk Till Dawn, everything is hunky-dory for our protagonists until the third act, when things start to get surreal. Aficionados of The Getaway argue that the last part of the book is meant to be allegorical. I think Tarantino deviates from the source material in that respect, meaning for his vampires to be quite literal.
The mysterious El Rey that Seth is going to in Dusk Till Dawn is also in The Getaway. In Thompson’s story, El Rey runs a luxurious criminal sanctuary with a high cost of living and a monthly spending requirement. Citizens are forced to kill each other in order to maintain their wealth and keep from being exiled to a nearby cannibalistic village. Seth is clearly aware of El Rey’s conditions (the name of the man becoming the name of the place in the film) when he refuses to take Kate (Lewis) with him, uttering those famous last words, “I may be a bastard, but I’m not a fucking bastard.” Getaway symbolists who have seen Dusk Till Dawn may also be pleased to see the religious connections in the movie, as the kingdom of El Rey has been compared to Hell; appropriate for two criminal brothers to survive the rest of their days, but not for the daughter of a preacher.