Some wouldn’t consider From Dusk Till Dawn a horror movie, but I’m not one of them. IMDB has it listed as “action, crime, fantasy,” which makes it sound like a mob movie with dragons. However, From Dusk Till Dawn contains several horror movie elements, and some scenes are quite scary.
The movie ranks pretty high in my favorite vampire movies list. It premiered in an era with so many awesome movies, known as the 90s, when other vampire movies were celebrating the beauty and sexiness of the vamp culture. Think Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) and Interview With a Vampire (1994). However, From Dusk Till Dawn brings the monster element back. Let’s dig in. (Contains spoilers.)
Quentin Tarantino’s Character
I love Tarantino movies, so the fact that he co-wrote and co-stared in From Dusk Till Dawn automatically wins in my book. But what makes this so special is his character, a horrifying human being with no soul.
Tarantino (Richie) and his brother (Seth), played by George Clooney, seek refuge in Mexico after committing a violent crime and take several hostages in the process.
From the opening scene, you realize Richie is insane and possibly a psychopath. He is paranoid, has no problem killing, and leers at every woman who crosses his path. And not in the ‘I hate women’ way but in the ‘I’m going to rape and kill you way’. You realize if his brother wasn’t supervising, Richie would be one of the most dangerous serial killers in the world.
I love this element because as you watch the movie, you never feel safe. You actually fear for poor Juliette Lewis (Kate) because you know they are one bathroom break away from a disaster. Tarantino plays a creepy murdering/rapist so well, he absolutely steals the spotlight from Clooney and Harvey Keitel and makes the audience very nervous through the first half of the movie.
Killers and crime aside, From Dusk Till Dawn is at its core a vampire movie. The group eventually makes it to Mexico and stops at late-night bar that’s rowdy and packed … packed full of vampires.
At first watch, you’re not sure where the movie is going because you know it’s not going to be that easy. Once they arrive, the audience can sit back, enjoy the music, get into the party atmosphere, and get lost in a very seductive dance by Salma Hayek. And then all hell breaks loose.
When the people change, these vamps are anything but pretty. They are vicious monsters that hunt and kill, and when it all goes down, you know they have been here a long, long time. I also enjoy that the audience can clearly see how Rodriguez and Tarantino pay homage to the lore and look of vampires. These monsters come in all shapes and sizes, and resemble bats, wolves, and zombies, all honoring some of the best things about the genre, makeup and costumes. Some are scary, some are funny, some are gross, and they all know how to do gore.
Is From Dusk Till Dawn scary? Maybe to some. If being isolated in the Mexico desert with robbers, killers and vampires scares you, then yes. Vampire movies don’t scare me, but I find them very entertaining and they are some of my favorite horror movies to rewatch.
From Dusk Till Dawn is different because it’s also action-packed and funny (if you like Rodriguez and Tarantino humor) and makes sure the audience has a good time. You won’t have long intimate conversations about the vampire curse or romantic love twists. From Dusk Till Dawn keeps your heart racing and your tickle bone happy.