From Dusk Till Dawn

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Selma Hayek
Extras: Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Music Videos

Here is a throwback to a movie I haven't seen in a while. I still remember seeing this movie in the theater a few weeks after it had come out. My wife (fiancée at the time) and I hit a mid afternoon matinee and there may have been 4 other people in the theater. There were no movie theater distractions, so I was pulled into a movie that I knew very little about, loving every minute of it. Here we are almost a decade later and the movie rises from the ashes to show PSP owners what they may have been missing. So forget the sub par sequels that were released in 1999 and 2000, and sink your teeth into this UMD.

"From Dusk Till Dawn" is just a fun movie. I love how it starts out as some type of gangster on the run flick and then evolves into a full-blown vampire movie. In the top half of the movie, we see how easy it is for Seth and Richard Gecko to become distracted in potentially deadly situations. Seth's devotion to protecting his brother clouds his decision making. He is a thief with a conscience. While he is not quite as polite as Jack Foley, the character George Clooney played in "Out Of Sight", Seth certainly knows how to bring things down to a personal level. Clooney provides humanity to his character, making him more approachable than his on screen brother, but when push comes to shove he is ready to fight. On the other extreme is Richard Gecko. Quentin Tarantino (who also wrote the screenplay) is ruthless in his portrayal of a compulsive killer who has a thirst for mayhem. If given a sliver of time, his warped mind will find a reason to devour the hope of any kidnap victim. The first half of the movie brings terror on a realistic level. There is armed robbery, kidnapping, automobile theft, homicide, hostages, and hints of potential sexual assault. While these issues are amplified in "The Devil's Rejects", the intensity is diluted a bit by the style of Robert Rodriguez and the charisma of George Clooney. The true to life issues help set up the story of carnage to come once the duo and their new kidnap victims find 'refuge' in Mexico.

The Titty Twister is just a beginning of the campy second half of the film. We see some good 'ol boys hanging out in the Mecca of sleazy strip clubs, drowning their nights in booze and women. After Salma Hayek, the seductress Santanico Pandemonium, lulls the audience into a daze, the movie shows its true colors. The 'twist' tends to catch many off guard, though the title alone should tell all what to expect. There are buckets of blood and tons of fun as the shady customers defend themselves against an onslaught of blood sucking vampires. You have to have fun with Tom Savini's portrayal of Sex Machine and Fred Williamson's turn as a war veteran in the wrong place at the wrong time. They provide some comic relief to the seriousness of Harvey Keitel's Jacob Fuller, the preacher in a struggle with God. There is a good balance of good versus evil, changing up the horror outline enough to bring freshness to the genre.

"From Dusk Till Dawn" continues the amusing run of movies Robert Rodriguez has made. Energy is abundant and it's obvious the cast and crew are having a good time making this movie. I loved "Sin City", but there is just something great about a movie that is a little rough around the edges. It is obvious that Rodriguez has matured as a filmmaker over the years, yet he maintains his unique vision and enthusiasm for making movies. Going back and watching earlier flicks like "Desperado" or "From Dusk Till Dawn" show the foundation Rodriguez had laid for "Sin City". Think for a second how many big names Rodriguez has worked with. Antonio Banderas, Jessica Alba, Quentin Tarantino, Juliette Lewis, Steve Buscemi, Salma Hayek, Johnny Depp, Clea Duvall, Harvey Keitel, and many more. Despite the big names and success, Rodriguez remains planted in the Austin community. Staying in the laid back Texas capitol helps keep his feet on the ground as he mingles with the stars. Remaining true to his roots, Rodriguez has brought a delightful liveliness to an industry that requires passion.

The 1.85:1 widescreen transfer is once again a delight on the PSP. While it shows just a slight sign of age, "From Dusk Till Dawn" still wows with great colors and a deep black level. The small screen is offset by the intricate detail of the UMD format. Darker scenes and special effects, which should suffer on the 4.3" screen, have no problems under normal lighting conditions. What do vampires and the PSP have in common? Sunlight kills them both. Being a horror movie, a darkened room is the best place to watch the movie. It helps with atmosphere and brings visibility to its highest level.

Earphones and powered speakers give a detail to sound that intensifies the movie. I give the powered speakers the edge on this title since it provides deeper bass throughout the movie. This could be rivaled by a pricey pair of earphones, but for now I am using the PSP ear buds that were provided with the system. If you must use the PSP faceplate speakers, be prepared to lose a good portion of sound details and bass. English and Spanish subtitles are provided as well.

Here is a bit of a surprise – Extra Features. Extras are few and far between on the UMD format, but this dual layered disc manages to give a little more bang for the buck by porting over some of the features from the Dimension Collector Series DVD. First we have "Hollywood Goes To Hell", which is similar to the HBO First Look featurettes that are on many DVD's. Cast and crew discuss the movie and what it took to bring the final product to life. "On The Set" is similar to the previous featurette, but is a little more technical in nature. It provides more behind the scenes footage and gives a fun documentary type look at the making of the movie. The deletes scenes/alternate takes are presented with Robert Rodriguez commentary. It should be noted the commentary is almost inaudible on the PSP speakers. There are two music videos, "After Dark" by Tito & The Tarantulas and "She's Killing Me" by ZZ Top, which are available to promote the great soundtrack. Finally, the trailers for "Dark Water", "Kill Bill: Volume 1", and "Kill Bill: Volume 2" are presented in their respective widescreen formats.

This is the best UMD I have seen so far. The movie has great audio and video presentation and loads of extras. The menu is very manageable and easy to navigate. Fans of "From Dusk Till Dawn" and the UMD format will be pleased with their purchase.