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From Dusk Till Dawn: Collector's Edition
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Note: There are some problems apparently where a few people have run into sets not containing both discs (this is a 2 DVD set). So, keep your reciept so that you can return if there's a problem.
I don't think there's been a more absurdly violent studio picture in the past few years. Still, it's kinda fun, because at the core of it it really doesn't take itself that seriously. Director Robert Rodriquez's effort after the more-enjoyable "Desperado", this horror film starring Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney has become a cult favorite, but certainly - this isn't a film for everyone.
Tarantino and Clooney play Seth and Richie Gecko, two intensely bad criminals who are on the run from the law. Since Tarantino is naturally pyscho anyways, it works. Clooney also does that sort of head down/eyes up thing (see also "Peacemaker") that he did before he really improved his acting in Soderberg's "Out Of Sight" and "Perfect Storm". Anyways, the two are on the run and they take a family hostage - a preacher (Harvey Keitel) and their two kids(Juliette Lewis and Ernest Liu).
They head over the Mexican border and hide out in a strip club. Things seem to be going okay for a while, till a little thing becomes apparent to them - that the bar is actually full of vampires. And more vampires begin to appear. The remainder of the film becomes a standoff between the group of survivors and the legions of vampires who are trying to take them out one-by-one.
Performances are generally good. Tarantino and Clooney are solid as the brothers. Clooney makes an unsympathetic character at least engaging. Keitel and Lewis are fine, as well. The film is more than a little bit over-the-top in terms of gore, but Rodriquez's hyper-visual style keeps the film from running off the tracks. It's certainly not a movie that everyone's going to like, but I've always thought it to be moderately entertaining horror.
VIDEO: Here's where Disney baffles audiences once again. They put together a really solid presentation all around the movie, with great extras. The audio is certainly very good. And then they go and use the same non-anamorphic transfer. Thankfully, this isn't too bad a non-anamorphic transfer, and the flaws that appear aren't too distracting.
Sharpness is generally fine; a few scenes now and again look slightly soft or a bit murky. Detail is good, and clarity is acceptable, as well. Colors are successful - the browns and colors of the desert early on look solid, and the colors on display in the bar are fine, looking bold and solid.
Some minor artifacts pop up once or twice, but these are pretty minor and don't prove to be a major distraction. The print used is also in very good condition, with only a few minor marks appearing towards the end of the picture. Otherwise, the print looks clear and clean.
Yes, this is not a bad non-anamorphic transfer. But my point is really that it doesn't make sense to put together such a big, enjoyable special edition and not go all the way with the presentation of the movie itself. Oh well.
SOUND: Director Rodriquez has always considered sound to be a very big part of the experience of the movie. That's apparent in "Desperado", which was a low-budget picture with "big-budget" sound, especially in the film's shoot-outs.
As the film grows more agressive in the second half, the sound grows more intense too, and surrounds are used very well as sounds are placed all around the room as the action rages on. A couple of scenes where bats enter the scene (possibly cousins of the bats from the recent "Bats") make for exceptionally strong audio, with solid bass at times.
Sound really adds to the film; it really takes the scares of the movie to the next level. The effective music score by Graeme Revell also adds to the tension, and sounds great on this DVD.
MENUS:: Menus for both discs are animated well; some of the "Dusk" menus seem quite a bit alike, but it's nice that the sub-menus are animated as well.
Commentary: The same commentary that was on the laserdisc edition of the film, this features the always talkative Quentin Tarantino and director Robert Rodriquez. Tarantino also did a great commentary for "Switchblade Sisters", so I was eager to listen to what he had to say here. The soft-spoken Rodriquez, who did a wonderful commentary for "Desperado", gets runover at times by Tarantino, who often controls the discussion and goes way out on his trip.
Rodriquez talks more about the technical aspects of the film, and working with the actors, cinematography and effects. Tarantino simply sits back and comments on the style of the film and his performance, as well as the history of the screenplay and what was changed between script and screen. The two of them seem like extremely good friends, and they talk back and forth energetically (which is an understatement in terms of Tarantino) about film in general and the scenes at hand.
With Tarantino here, between the two of them expect hardly any pauses during the commentary. It's a great discussion, both entertaining and informative.
Outtakes: This is especially hilarious. The first minute or so of this section offers Clooney getting particularly angry after messing up quite a few takes. Everyone gets a chance here, and during the 6 minutes, we see many members of the cast mess-up. Strangely, Clooney is shown most...
Hollywood Goes To Hell: A pretty interesting promotional featurette. Much of it is devoted to interviews with the cast and crew chatting about the picture, but as the documentary goes on, there is more behind-the-scenes detail.
Ads: Theatrical trailer(full-frame/Dolby 2.0); 6 TV ads(English);1 TV ad(Spanish).
Music Video: Tito and Tarantula("After Dark"); ZZ Top ("She's Just Killing Me").
Still Gallery: A still gallery that runs through the pictures on its own for 4 minutes or so.
The Art Of Making The Movie: This is a very informative section that takes us behind-the-scenes for four of the sections of the movie, showing the production getting all of the elements of the scene together. Director Rodriquez provides commentary and talks in-depth about his style and how scenes came together. These documentaries vary quite a bit in length - from one being only a few minutes to one being over 20. The four included are : "The Opening", "The Hostage", "Titty Twister" and "Rat Man and Battle 3".
Deleted Scenes/Alternate Takes: With commentary from the make-up and effects supervisor and director Rodriquez, there are quite a few alternate and deleted sequences that are included here. Some of which are pretty wild - all in all, about 5 1/2 minutes.
On The Set: Another brief featurette with some footage of the set.
Also: Cast and crew bios, DVD Credits.
More Weirdness: Recently, with Miramax's edition of "Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies", Disc 1 was actually the final part of the program. Here, Disc 1 is not "From Dusk Till Dawn", but the "Full Tilt Boogie" documentary. This is not labeled on the disc, so one wouldn't know from just looking. Odd. Similar to the "Music Of The Heart" disc, the basic package looks like a 1-disc case, but has a flip-out little tray for the second disc. The disc in the tray is hard to get out, as well.
The Movie: Full-Tilt Boogie
Starting off with a riotous shot of Clooney and Tarantino doing a funky strut down the hall of what looks to be the production office, we are taken directly into the days and nights of "From Dusk Till Dawn", led by director Sarah Kelly.
The documentary gives us quite a few different elements, from interviews to behind-the-scenes footage. Whenever Tarantino appears, he takes the same role as he did with the commentary, talking over Rodriquez in an interview early on. The problem is during much of the early part of the discussion is the sort of flat nature of the situations. We almost hope for more Tarantino to liven up the proceedings at times.
This really isn't a documentary that tells us about the technical aspects of filmmaking in the way that the "Art Of" documentaries did on the other disc. There is some information offered here, but it certainly doesn't seem to be the focus. We hear from just about everyone from the first AD down to the craft services guy, but their comments don't really tell us anything much.
And I suppose it's basically entertaining to see the kind of fun that the cast and crew had during the production; there are "on-set romances" and various contests and parties. Finally some drama enters in with Union battles that threaten the production (which provides a few moments of Tarantino at his most intense), but this doesn't last long, and soon enough, we're back to the party atmosphere of the previous segments, including a bar scene where Juliette Lewis does a pretty decent singing effort to what I believe was one of those 4 Non Blondes songs that came out a few years back.
All in all it's a decent documentary and the second half of the feature does begin to get more entertaining and move a bit faster.
VIDEO: The video quality for "Full Tilt Boogie" varies somewhat throughout the film. Some graininess appears at times, but this is not a consistent problem with the film. Sharpness is pretty decent, with some scenes looking stronger than others. Colors seem natural, and the picture generally seems to be free of all but a few minor artifacts.
SOUND: The audio is "documentary"-type audio, mainly covering the interviews and various events fine. Dialogue comes through clearly, and we at least understand what's being said. Gets the job done.
Final Thoughts: I believe it was announced as being anamorphic, and it's dissapointing that the final product is not. The extras are very good, although they are the same as from the laserdisc. It's also nice that, although it's not as good as the "Magnolia Diary" documentary, that "Full Tilt Boogie" is included here. "Dusk Till Dawn" fans will certainly enjoy this two disc set, but it's apparent that Miramax didn't put all the effort into this set that they could have. Other oddness is that the studio announced this as being "indefinitely delayed" a week or so before the release date - it was "indefinitely delayed" till only one week later. The Collector's Edition of "From Dusk Till Dawn" streets 10/3/00.