From Dusk Till Dawn The Series: Adding to the Cult Classic Movie
Forgive me if I might have been skeptical or doubted Robert Rodriguez. I was very hesitant to watch From Dusk Till Dawn The Series for a long time. Where I live, we do not have the El Rey Network, so I had to wait until it was available on Netflix. But even then, it sat in my queue for the longest time until I just decided to give it a shot and watch an episode or two.
Well, needless to say, that episode or two ended up being a binge-watching marathon of all ten first season episodes in two days. I couldn’t believe I had waited so long to watch this. I was so unsure of how the series would play out because, first, it is being spun-off of a great cult classic film, and secondly because the two sequels that followed the original failed to live up to their predecessor. But Rodriguez and company surely delivered on a series that I can’t wait to see unfold even more.
The series begins just as the original movie did, with Seth and Richie, the Gecko brothers on the run from the law after robbing a bank. Just as in the movie, Seth is more of the brains of the operation while Richie is the unstable and unpredictable of the two. They stop at a liquor store and Richie kills Texas Ranger Earl McGraw, who stopped there with his partner, Freddie Gonzalez. Gonzalez eventually surrenders his weapon and tries to save Earl’s life, but he fails to do so as the Gecko brothers escape on their way to Mexico. But Gonzalez vows to kill the brothers before McGraw passes away.
On their way to cross the border and meet with “boss”, drug lord Carlos, they cross paths with Jacob Fuller and his two kids, daughter Katie and adopted son Scott. Jacob packed up his family’s belongings and left their home after the death of his wife. When they meet Seth and Richie, they are taken hostage and the brothers board their RV. Then they all head toward the Mexican border with cops and Gonzalez on the hunt.
Just as in the film, they eventually cross into Mexico and all seems well until they are told by Carlos to meet him at a bar just past the border. However, Ranger Gonzalez also crosses into Mexico still on the hunt for the brothers. When they arrive at the bar, the infamous Titty Twister, everything seems normal. Until of course, everyone there turns into vampire-like creatures. Now, Seth, Richie, Jacob, Katie, Scott, and a handful of other bar patrons must fight to stay alive until dawn.
The series follows the first film’s premise pretty straight-forward but adds some new twists and details. With ten episodes running over 40 minutes each, the series can add more to some of the stories from the film. For example, one entire episode takes place in the liquor store. Other plots that are more detailed are their kidnapping of the Fuller family, the scene at the border and the entire bar scene.
Additional twists added to the series are details about what really happened to Jacob’s wife, Texas Ranger Gonzalez’s hunt for the Gecko brothers, and Richie’s strange connection to Santanico Pandemonium, the main vampire at the bar. This strange relationship between Richie and Santanico plays throughout the entire series and is a major factor especially in the last few episodes.
As far as the cast, replacing George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino as the Gecko brothers is D.J. Cotrona and Zane Holtz. Cotrona’s biggest film role was in G.I. Joe: Retaliation while Holtz was in The Perks of being a Wallflower. But despite limited filmographies from both, they do an excellent job of portraying two great characters. Holtz does exceptionally well as the pyschotic Richie, a part played wonderfully by Tarantino in the film.
Joining Cotrona and Holtz is a great mixture of familiar and new faces. Robert Patrick, who starred in From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money, plays Jacob Fuller, a role originally played by Harvey Keitel. The roles of Katie and Scott are played by newcomers Madison Davenport and Brandon Soo Hoo. Jessie Garcia, a veteran TV actor, plays the vengeful Texas Ranger Freddie Gonzalez to perfection. Santanico, a role made popular by Salma Hayek, is played by Eiza Gonzalez, a Mexican actress and singer. And Don Johnson steps into the role of Earl McGraw after Michael Parks played the character in the film.
There were only two casting choices that didn’t seem to fit for me. Jake Busey was cast as Sex Machine, the bar patron made famous by Tom Savini in the movie. Busey has never been one of my favorites and this choice just didn’t seem to fit. And the other was Wilmer Valderrama as Carlos. It is not that Valderrama is a bad actor. I actually like him. But everytime I heard him talk I couldn’t help but think of Fez, his character from That 70’s Show. It’s not his fault, but no matter what I will always think of that when I hear him speak. Even if he is talking about killing someone.
But overall, From Dusk Till Dawn The Series is excellent. I was upset that I waited this long to finally watch it. I should have known to trust Robert Rodriquez. He, along with guest directors like Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project), Fede Alvarez (2013’s Evil Dead), and Dwight Little (Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers) did an amazing job with the series and I can’t wait to see how the story continues along. I guess that the only good thing about waiting so long to watch it is that I don’t have as long to wait for season two. Now I just have to get my cable company to carry the El Rey Network!
Daryl Karpinski Jr.