Franchise FOCUS: From Dusk Till Dawn

 

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After watching and writing about the first season of From Dusk Till Dawn The Series, I was interested in going back and watching the movies again. So I sat back and watched all three movies in the franchise in a few days. I enjoyed the original as always and even gained more appreciation for the second film. As for the third film, well, it still didn’t interest me enough to enjoy it. But nevertheless, let’s look at the trilogy as a whole in this blog.

THE ORIGINAL CULT CLASSIC

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From Dusk Till Dawn was released in 1996 by director Robert Rodriguez. The film made an average run in theaters but really found its audience after being released on home video. The movie is about two brothers on the run from the law after robbing a bank and murdering a couple of people. They are heading toward Mexico when they take a man and his two kids hostage. The brothers ride with them in their RV across the border and go to a bar where they wait to meet up with their boss. But the bar just happens to be run by vampires that are trying to kill them. Now, they must all fight to stay alive until dawn.

The movie has an all-star cast of great actors including George Clooney (Ocean’s Eleven), Quentin Tarintino (who also wrote the screenplay), Harvey Keitel (Taxi Driver),  Juliette Lewis(Natural Born Killers), and Salma Hayek (Desperado), Fred Williamson (Hell Up In Harlem), and Michael Parks (Tusk). Also included in the cast is many Rodriguez and genre regulars like Danny Trejo (Machete), Cheech Marin (Up in Smoke), Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead), and John Saxon (A Nightmare on Elm Street).

As I said earlier, the film may not have been a huge success at theaters, but it definitely found its following afterward. Whenever anyone mentions the Titty Twister bar, many people know exactly where it comes from. The movie was also one in a long line of Rodriguez-Tarintino collaborations that are all very well done. It is safe to say that without this movie, there may not have been Grindhouse, the double feature the duo made later on.

THE SEQUEL AND THE PREQUEL

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Three years later a sequel was released titled From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money. the sequel was directed by Scott Spiegel and released straight to home video. Aside from the name, the sequel had very little in common with the original. There were only a few characters that were related to characters in the first film and the infamous Titty Twister bar only makes a cameo. Instead, the sequel focused on a gang of robbers that meet up with an escaped inmate buddy to rob a bank.

The film stars Robert Patrick (Terminator 2: Judgement Day), Duane Whitaker (Feast), and Raymond Cruz (Breaking Bad). Danny Trejo also returns for the sequel along with James Parks, son of Michael Parks. The movie also opens with a great cameo from Tiffani Amber-Thiessen (Saved By The Bell) and Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead).

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The sequel is no where near as good as the original but it isn’t as bad a film as I remembered it being. The acting and the story is alright. The effects are really poor but that can be kind of expected. I think this movie could have been called something completely different and did fine on its own. But they capitalized on the home video success of the original only to let die-hard fans down. But it was still a better film than the third in the series.

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From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter was a prequel released direct to video in 2000. At this point, studios seemed to just be spitting out movies to cash-in on the franchise’s successes and this P.J. Pesce-directed movie is an example of that.

The prequel is set in Mexico in the early 1900’s. It follows around a cast a characters through Mexico who end up at a shelter that also serves as a whorehouse. In this whorehouse, the “birth” of Santanico Pandemonium (the vampire portrayed by Hayek in the original) takes place as it tries to set the stage for the original, cult classic.

The movie stars series veterans Danny Trejo and Michael Parks along with newcomers Rebecca Gayheart (Urban Legend), Marco Leonardi (Once Upon a Time in Mexico), Orlando Jones (Evolution), and Temuera Morrison (Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones). But despite the good acting involved, the prequel bombed and effectively ended a once-promising franchise.

STILL A FUTURE

From Dusk Till Dawn wasn’t over just yet. The franchise spawned a video game in 200. The story of the game picked up right where the first film ended. The game was only released on PC though so it’s overall popularity was not that big.

But the franchise still lives on in 2015 with a great TV series that began last year. From Dusk Till Dawn The Series began with a ten-episode first season that basically recreated the first film with more detail. The series was very good and a second season will air this year, continuing the story of the Gecko brothers. The series airs on the El Rey Network and is available on Netflix.

Daryl Karpinski Jr.

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