Although Quentin Tarantino did not direct another film after Pulp Fiction until 1997's ackie Brown, he might as well receive co-directing credit for Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn. This is due in part to his role as screenwriter: his grubby mitts are all over this thing. But the brio for insane ultra-violence is pure Rodriguez, as is the Mexican setting and the wacky editing style (also Rodriguez's doing). From Dusk Till Dawn is a fun action-comedy that has aged quite well in the last twenty years.
Seth Gecko (George Clooney) and his little brother, Richie (Tarantino), are on the lam after Richie breaks Seth out of jail and they knock off a bank. They also butcher a Texas Ranger and a shopkeep in a scene that is wittily verbose in that distinctly Tarantino way. En route to safe haven in Mexico, they run afoul of a family, led by lapsed preacher, Jacob (Harvey Keitel), and his two kids, Scott (Ernest Liu) and Kate (Juliette Lewis, or the World's Coolest Scientologist, per Dave White). The Geckos take the family hostage and use them for their RV, which enables them to get across the border and to a strip club where they will wait the night. Come morning, the Geckos' friend, Carlos, will arrive and the hostages are free to go. Only catch? The club is run by vampires.
You'd think that given this film's reputation and its premise, it would get right to the insane, gory shootouts for which it's known. But this is a film written by Tarantino, after all, so you can bet that it will be presaged by extreme conversation-having and questionable use of racial slurs. Whether this two-thirds talky-talk and one-third snooty-shoot imbalance bothers you depends on your love for Tarantino's dialogue. I'm a sucker for it, so the ratio did me just fine. But you may be squirming in your seat when you realize a whole hour's passed and no vampires have been destroyed.
Once the killing gets started and everyone shuts the hell up, Rodriguez takes over and shifts into high gear. The special effects are a combination of proto-CGI and gnarly practical effects: you can guess which of the two is more effective for a film released in 1996. The last third of the film is more or less an extended action scene in which there are buckets of blood and increasingly inventive ways for people to die. You're also introduced to characters named Sex Machine and Frost, played respectively by stunt man veteran, Tom Savini, and blaxploitation star, Fred Williamson. They bring a jolt of energy to the movie when it becomes a little bit too interested in the not-so-interesting back story of the main characters.
Dawn is a hell of an entertaining movie, even by 2016 standards. It's refreshing to watch an action movie that doesn't have one million subplots bogging it down, which is the thing to do these days. If you're looking for a litany of profanity, needlessly naked women and over-the-top mayhem, well, you could probably check out most of the rest of Rodriguez's oeuvre, too. Just don't watch the Spy Kids movies or The Adventures of Sharkboy & Lavagirl in 3-D looking for that.