This box set collects From Dusk Till Dawn
and its two lesser-known sequels, plus a wealth of associated material. None are horror classics, but taken as a trilogy the series offers above-average thrills and an interesting invented mythology.
The original is a trashy but fun crime spree/vampire movie, directed by Robert Rodriguez, with Quentin Tarantino doing one job too many as producer, writer and co-star. The crime movie half is suspenseful and flavoursome and the left turn into horror begins wonderfully, but the script makes the mistake of getting rid of the flamboyant monster villains too quickly, replacing them with an orgy of rubbery Evil Dead II-style effects. It never gets boring, there's a terrific Tex-Mex-Gothic soundtrack and Rodriguez stages shoot-outs better than anyone not called John Woo. It was a big enough hit to warrant sequels made for the video market, shot back-to-back in South Africa (doubling for Texas and Mexico).
From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money begins as another cowboy noir, with ex-con Robert Patrick playing cat and mouse with Texas Ranger Bo Hopkins. It segues into horror as heist man Duane Whitaker runs into a bat on the highway and proceeds to turn his gang into vampires who engage during a total eclipse in a Wild Bunch-style bank raid-cum-shootout.
Switching genres and playing the prequel game, From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter is more distinctive. A cod-spaghetti Western, it takes a plot nugget from history as the aged Ambrose Bierce (Michael Parks, the Sheriff killed before the credits in the first film) tangles with vampires in Mexico in 1914 en route to his mythic disappearance. Though it has the best storyline of the trio, it still degenerates into a compilation of horror gags in its carnage-strewn climax.
On the DVD: From Dusk Till Dawn is identical to the previous collector's edition release, while the sequels here appear on disc for the first time in great-looking 1.85:1 widescreen, which shows off the attempts made by directors Scott Spiegel and P.J. Pesce to add visual quality to reruns of the original's plot.
A second disc included in the first movie's keepcase features "Full Tilt Boogie", a light but informative feature-length documentary about making an effects-heavy film on the cheap; there's also a Rodriguez-Tarantino commentary; alternate and deleted scenes (more gore effects); excerpts from the film intercut with on-the-set-footage and commented on by Rodriguez and effects man Greg Nicotero; the trailer; Rodriguez music videos; a still gallery; cast and crew bios. If you count the sequels as extras in their own right, it's not that disappointing that they only rate one tiny extra between them, a deleted snippet from The Hangman's Daughter originally intended as an after-the-end-credits punchline.--Kim Newman
Box set featuring all three 'From Dusk Till Dawn' movies. In the first Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney play Richard and Seth Gecko, a pair of brothers on the run together after a prison break. The brothers have kidnapped a preacher (Harvey Keitel) and his children and hidden out in an isolated nightclub. However, the club is full of bloodthirsty types, and the captors and convicts soon team up to preserve their skins. In 'From Dusk Till Dawn 2' a gang of murderous bank-robbers head down to Mexico with the plans for the perfect heist. Unfortunately, en route, they stop at the wrong bar, and end up confronted by a host of vampires. As the robbers begin to develop a strong taste for blood, it is up to the last human gang member (Robert Patrick) and a Texan sheriff (Bo Hopkins) to thwart their vampiric desires and escape. Finally, 'From Dusk Till Dawn 3 - The Hangman's Daughter' goes back to the time when the whole saga began. Johnny Madrid, on the run after kidnapping the beautiful Esmeralda, daughter of the man who tried to hang him, takes shelter in an isolated inn. Unfortunately however, the inn is run by vampires and Esmeralda is in fact their long-awaited princess, the legendary half-human, half-vampire Santanico Pandemonium. This means it will probably be a sleepless night for most concerned.