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The 1990s introduced us to a new and interesting variant of the classic myth of the vampire: Mexican vampires. While Mexican vampire flicks have existed since the 1950s the myth of the Mexican vampire got mainstream recognition only with the 1996 movie From Dusk Till Dawn.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, From Dusk Till Dawn is basically Desperado meets Dracula meets Psycho, and it's one awesome movie. The story starts with a family being taken hostage by a pair of bank robbers as they attempt to cross the border into Mexico. At this point the movie is a lot like Hitchcock's Psycho (if you haven't seen that classic, you're probably too young for this website) in that for much of the movie the plot is centered around an everyday crime, and then half way through we're suddenly introduced to the real plot. In this case, vampires. The bank robbers and their hostages stop to spend the night at the Titty Twister, a Mexican night club that looks like it's straight out of the 80s. There they are suddenly beset upon by a flock of Mexican vampires, and the robbers and hostages must put aside their differences and fight side by side if they want to live to see the morning. At this point the movie turns into a Desperado style mad action flick as the protagonists try to fight off the vampire menace with everything they've got, whether it's sharpened wooden stakes, a crossbow, condoms filled with holy water, or a cross consisting of a baseball bat and a shotgun.
The movie entertains with over the top scenes like Salma Hayek dancing with a snake, Quentin Tarantino being a complete psycho, Harvey Keitel blessing the water in a water filled condom, Fred Williamson ripping out the heart of a vampire, Tom Savini fighting half a dozen strippers at the same time, Juliette Lewis blowing up vampires with a crossbow, George Clooney killing a vampire with a chandelier, and many many more.
The top notch action and the over the top story is well rounded out into a complete package by the cast of memorable characters. For starters we have the two bank robbers, the no nonsense ruthless badass Seth played by George Clooney, and his batshit crazy brother Richard portrayed by Quentin Tarantino (who also wrote the screenplay, as you can obviously tell by watching the movie). Then we have Harvey Keitel playing an aged priest who comes in handy for the bank robbers when the vampires come and try to kill them all, and Juliette Lewis plays his feisty daughter who proves to be a real badass with a crossbow. Top this list up with a number of memorable support characters who join with our heroes in the night club such as the man with the gun at his crotch called Sex Machine played by the always excellent Tom Savini and the big badass Vietnam veteran Frost portrayed by Fred Williamson. Cheech Marin plays three different roles in the movie and shines in every last one of them. We also see Danny Trejo in the role of the bartender.
From Dusk Till Dawn is a masterful modern day vampire flick with great over the top action, memorable characters, and an interesting enough story to keep you interested from start to finish. If you liked Desperado and have a thing for vampires, this movie will not disappoint you in the least.
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