Hello readers! I’ve been meaning to blog more this summer, but with job searching, returning to my ushering gig part time, and writing a lot of stuff for the three other wonderful websites that I contribute to, it has been harder than I’d hoped to set aside time to work on my own blog! But, with that said, I think it’s time I introduce a new feature called Forgotten Favorites; it’s something that I’ve wanted to start for quite some time now, and I’m really excited about it! Plus, it’s a perfect way of celebrating the official one year anniversary of my blog!
The focus of Forgotten Favorites will be one film per post that I’ve been reintroduced to recently– for instance, even if it is a film that is universally loved and respected, I may still choose to write about it, especially if it is a little bit older and if I’ve seen it before, but too long ago for me personally to remember how great it truly is until a repeat viewing. Or maybe it is a cult classic, or a movie that I deem totally overlooked or underrated, or something I’ve actually always loved but had kind of forgotten about until it was playing on TV, perhaps. Per post, I’ll probably break down what about the film is “forgotten” (in other words, I’ll indicate clearly what category, out of those I just went through, the film belongs to– Is it a classic whose glory solely I had to be reminded of by revisiting it years later? Or is it forgotten by more than just me, ignored by the masses and deserving of more acclaim?) and then discuss why it is or should be a “favorite” nevertheless.
For this first edition of Forgotten Favorites then, I’d like to re-evaluate Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn (1996). I had seen this film as a kid (much to my mom’s retrospective and extremely halfhearted, if not totally uncommitted/unconvinced regret– “eh, I probably shouldn’t have shown that one to you at that age either;” the “either” being an imperative term that indicates just how many horror films I’d seen during the formative years of my childhood and yet how relatively unscathed I came away from them). Anyway, I had only seen it (and thus remembered it) in bits and pieces ever since then, the kind of movie that I’d say is “so good” but I wouldn’t be able to tell you why, not concretely at least. So I watched it yesterday on Netflix in full for the first time in years.
So, that’s why I “forgot” it; this is one of those examples where it’s more of a personal lapse than a communal one. With this year’s TV series based on the film and of the same name, I knew it was about time that I re-watch and remind myself of the campy, pulpy flick, so that my love for the movie was based more in truth than in nostalgia. And, the truth is, the film is not perfect, but it is just as much fun as I remember. For the first half of it, it’s hard– no, impossible– to predict that vampires are going to come into play by the time the second half rolls around. The film stars George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino (who wrote the screenplay, and it shows), as thieving bandit brothers on the run and with a plan, or rather plans, plural since they keep going somewhat awry and require subsequent re-evaluating. So the first half of the film, feeling particularly Tarantino-y as I said, is bloody and almost comically brutal but only through less-than-supernatural means.
It’s only when we get to the crazy biker and trucker bar over the Mexican border that the true fun, for me anyway, begins. If there was any one scene that I remembered vividly, it was that first transformation scene, the all out brawl, when we realize that the bar’s staff– from the servers to the bouncers to the strippers and dancers– is comprised of horrific, creepy, over-the-top vampires.
If we’re going to delve into what about the film is my “favorite” aspect, or why the film is a favorite of mine (especially now that I’ve seen it recently and fully enough to say so with integrity), I would say it’s the makeup effects. Greg Nicotero, who has a cameo in the film alongside his predecessor and teacher, Tom Savini (who’s character is named “Sex Machine,” because why not?), did the effects for this film, and they are as campy and glorious and intricate as ever. You can see his traditions and trends and characteristics from his work on Evil Dead 2, I think, and each vampire is a little different, and all equally gruesome; they’re not merely pale people with fangs, they are horrible, disgusting creatures, and I love that about them.
Plus, this movie is perfect at making a case for makeup over computer generation: even in the hoards of vampires, you can see and feel the textures of every individual one of them, and when they melt, burst into flames or explode during the fight scenes, it feels real (because it basically is real– and that is something CG can’t replicate, in my opinion).
So, before checking out the TV series, which I haven’t yet but really want to now, I’d recommend everyone revisits From Dusk Till Dawn. It is a sometimes uneven but awesomely outrageous crime-caper-turned-vampire-horror-comedy, and it was exciting to remember aspects of that while being refreshed and reawakened to other aspects it had been too long for me to have remembered– if you’re like me and haven’t seen it in a while, you might just be seeing it through new eyes yourself, and that kind of movie re-watching experience is precisely why I am really happy to be embarking on this new feature for you all! Thanks for reading this first edition of Forgotten Favorites! Check back soon for further editions and important edits, including a new category tab along the top of my site for easy access to the feature as well as a permanent description of the feature in my About the Blog[ger] page! Any suggestions or feedback is always much appreciated.