From Dusk Till Dawn is the 1996 American supernatural crime-horror film directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by Quentin Tarantino. It is the first film in the trilogy of films but chronologically it is second. It stars George Clooney as Seth Gecko, Quentin Tarantino as his psychotic murderous brother Richie Gecko, Harvey Keitel as Jacob Fuller and Juliette Lewis as Kate Fuller. It didn't fare well at the box-office but has achieved cult status.
- George Clooney as Seth Gecko
- Quentin Tarantino as Richie Gecko
- Harvey Keitel as Jacob Fuller
- Juliette Lewis as Kate Fuller
- Ernest Liu as Scott Fuller
- Salma Hayek as Santánico Pandemonium
- Danny Trejo as Razor Charlie
- Tom Savini as Sex Machine
- Fred Williamson as Frost
- Michael Parks as Texas Ranger Earl McGraw
- Brenda Hillhouse as Hostage Gloria Hill
- Cheech Marin as Border Guard / Chet Pussy / Carlos
- John Saxon as FBI Agent Stanley Chase
- Marc Lawrence as Old Timer Motel Owner
- Kelly Preston as Newscaster Kelly Houge
- John Hawkes as Liquor Store Cashier Pete Bottoms
- Ernest M. Garcia as Big Emilio
- Tito & Tarantula as The Titty Twister House Band
Fugitive bank robbers and brothers Seth and Richie Gecko are fleeing the F.B.I. and Texas police. They hold up and destroy a liquor store, killing the clerk and a Texas Ranger. Two witnesses they held hostage in the store escape during the shooting. The Geckos still hold a bank clerk hostage in the trunk of their car, whom Richie later rapes and murders.
The Fuller family—Jacob, the father and a pastor who is experiencing a crisis of faith; his son Scott; and daughter Kate—are on a vacation in their RV. They stop at a motel and are promptly kidnapped by the Geckos, who force the Fullers to smuggle them over the Mexican border. Seth and Jacob make an uneasy truce: if the Geckos can make it past the border, Jacob and his family will come out of the ordeal unharmed. They arrive at the "Titty Twister", a strip club in the middle of a desolate part of Mexico, where the Geckos will be met by their contact, Carlos, at dawn. The Geckos demand that the Fullers have a drink with them before leaving, despite Kate's obvious discomfort.
Soon after entering the club, chaos ensues as the employees and strippers are all revealed to be vampires. Most of the patrons are quickly killed, and Richie is bitten by the star stripper, Santanico Pandemonium, and bleeds to death. Only Seth, Jacob, Kate, Scott, a biker named Sex Machine, and Frost—a Vietnam War veteran—survive the attack. The slain patrons, including Richie, then come back to life as vampires, forcing Seth to kill his own brother.
During this second struggle, one of the vampires bites Sex Machine on the arm. Subsequently, Sex Machine changes into a vampire and bites Frost and Jacob before Frost throws Sex Machine through the door, which allows an army of vampires to enter as bats from the outside. Seth and the Fullers desperately escape to a back storeroom and fashion anti-vampire weapons from items found inside, including a pneumatic drill, crossbow, shotgun, and holy water, which requires Jacob to recover his faith to bless. Jacob, knowing he will soon turn into a vampire, makes a reluctant Scott and Kate promise to kill him when he changes.
The four make their final assault on the undead. Jacob changes, but Scott hesitates to dispatch his father, allowing Jacob to bite Scott. Scott hits Jacob with holy water and shoots him. Scott is captured by several vampires who begin to devour him. Begging for death, Scott is shot by Kate. Only Seth and Kate survive, surrounded by vampires. Just as they contemplate suicide, streams of sunlight shine through new holes in the walls, making the vampires back away. Dawn has come, and Carlos is trying to shoot his way in. On Seth's call, Carlos' bodyguards blast open the door, letting in full sunlight and killing every vampire inside. Carlos admits that he had never entered the club, but that he had thought it looked like "a fun place".
Kate asks Seth if she can go with him to El Rey, Mexico, but he declines, saying, "I may be a bastard, but I'm not a fucking bastard." They go their separate ways after Seth gives Kate some cash. As they leave, it is revealed that the "Titty Twister" structure was actually the top of a partially buried ancient Aztec temple, presumably the home of vampires for centuries, and that hundreds of vehicles have been toppled down the side of the cliff.
The film currently holds a "fresh" rating of 64% on Rotten Tomatoes, calling it "A pulpy crime drama/vampire film hybrid, From Dusk Till Dawn is an uneven but often deliriously enjoyable B-movie". Roger Ebert gave it three out of four stars and described it as "a skillful meat-and-potatoes action extravaganza with some added neat touches". On IMDb, it currently holds a 7.3 rating.
- The line "No thanks, I've already had a wife" was improvised by George Clooney. Robert Rodriguez never intended for it to be in the final cut, but after the line was used in the trailer, he felt obliged to include it in the film.
- Green blood was used for the vampires to get the film past the censors.
- Before George Clooney was cast, Tim Roth, John Travolta, Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi and Christopher Walken were offered the role of Seth Gecko.
- Salma Hayek has a fear of snakes and she knew when she read the script, this phobia would stop her from taking it. Robert Rodriguez then conned her that Madonna was up for the part, Salma then took up two months with therapists to overcome her fear.
- Some of the growling noises from the vampire rat that Sex Machine turns into is from Robert's son, Rocket Rodriguez, who was just learning to talk.
- The body count in the film is 122.
- The make-up effects team, KNB, each make cameo appearances; Greg Nicotero appears as the long haired biker that Sex Machine steals a beer from and Howard Berger appears as the trucker vampire that bites Sex Machine.
- Juliette Lewis was cast because of her friendship with Quentin Tarantino. She appeared in the film Natural Born Killers, which the original screenplay was written by Tarantino. He liked her so much that he suggested she play Kate.
- Erik Estrada was originally lined up to play Carlos.
- George Clooney was picked partly because of his role in ER. Quentin liked the irony that George went from a guy saving lives to one who sends people to the ER.
- If you look closely, Cheech Marin's Customs Agent character's name badge reads "Oscar Marin", which is Cheech's real-life father's name.