Dungeon Classics #20: From Dusk Till Dawn

FilmDungeon’s Chief Editor JK sorts through the Dungeon’s DVD-collection to look for old cult favorites….

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996, USA | Mexico)

Director: Robert Rodriguez
Cast: George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Juliette Lewis, Harvey Keitel
Running Time: 108 mins.

The early nineties saw the rise of filmmakers and friends Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriquez (they both debuted in 1992). They collaborated a number of times, but From Dusk Till Dawn is probably the greatest success in terms of cult appeal. Tarantino wrote the script and plays one of the lead roles and Rodriquez directed and edited the movie. The result is a cult classic. The first half is like watching a Tarantino neo-western crime movie. The dialogue is pure Tarantino and thus essential stuff for the cinema obsessive. The cast is excellent with Clooney in a formidable lead role as ruthless criminal Seth Gecko. The dynamic with his crazy, rapist brother Richard (played by Tarantino) ensures many extremely funny moments. During the second half, From Dusk Till Dawn surprisingly turns into a horror movie. A vampire flick to be more precise. It surely is thrilling, though not as good as the terrific first half. But some great supporting parts (by a.o. Fred Williamson and Tom Savini) add to the bloody fun.

Dungeon Classics #19: Desperado

FilmDungeon’s Chief Editor JK sorts through the Dungeon’s DVD-collection to look for old cult favorites….

Desperado (1995, USA | Mexico)

Director: Robert Rodriguez
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Joaquim de Almeida
Running Time: 104 mins.

He not only plays, he can shoot too… Antonio Banderas is the mariachi turned gunslinger in this sequel to Texan filmmaker Robert Rodriquez’s 1992 debut El Mariachi. Rather than the 7.000 dollars he had for his debut film, he now had 7 million bucks and spent the money well on some serious acting talent and loads of shootouts and explosions. Banderas is full of rage and passion as the tortured Mariachi; there is so much fire in his performance. And he has great chemistry with Hayek’s touching bookstore owner Carolina. Rodriquez also added some comedic talent to the supporting cast, like Steve Buscemi who’s unforgettable in the movie’s perfect opening scene. Rodriquez completed his ‘Mexico’ trilogy in 2003 with Once Upon a Time in Mexico, but this one is the most fun. A year later, Rodriquez and many cast members (Cheech Marin, Salma Hayek, Quentin Tarantino and Danny Trejo) came together again for From Dusk Till Dawn.

 

 

 

What Many People Missed in Fight Club

Fight Club was an unexpected spectacle from 1999. The direction by David Fincher is top notch and Edward Norton and Brad Pitt form an extremely memorable screen duo. Norton as the typical working stiff addicted to buying stuff he doesn’t need and Pitt as his uber cool and revolutionary counterpart.

SPOILERS: If you haven’t seen Fight Club, and you definitely should see it, stop reading NOW and enjoy the fucking MOVIE.

Towards the end of Fight Club, we discover that Norton’s character and Pitt (Tyler Durden) are actually the same person. Norton – called the narrator – ‘invented’ Durden in his mind to help him change and become the man he really desired to be. In the movie, at times he is seeing Tyler as a separate person and actually fights him (and thus himself) which leads to the start of the revolutionary Fight Club movement. At other times he is still his self-doubting self and again at other times he is fully Tyler Durden (which as an audience we don’t see) and he is spreading his movement through America.

The reason that he is sometimes still himself is that the journey to fully become his hero Tyler is quite a mental challenge. He finds it hard to be Tyler because it goes against his nature. Yet, because he is also repulsed by his own ‘slave’ behavior, he needs to become Tyler to set himself free from his consumerist lifestyle.

Now here comes a description the narrator gives of Tyler shortly after he meets him: “Tyler was a night person. When the rest of us were sleeping, he worked. He had one part time job as a projectionist. A movie doesn’t come all on one big reel. It comes on a few. Someone has to switch the projectors at the exact moment that one reel ends and the next one begins. You look for it and you can see those little dots come into the upper right corner of the screen. (Tyler: “In the industry, we call them cigarette burns”.) That’s the cue for a changeover. He flips the projector, movie keeps right one going and nobody in the audience has any idea. (Tyler: “Now why would anyone want this shit job?”) Because it affords him interesting opportunities. (Tyler: “Like splicing a single frame of pornography into family films.”) So when the snooty cat and the courageous dog with the celebrity voices meet for the first time in reel three, that’s when you’ll catch a flash of Tyler’s contribution to the film. Nobody knows that they saw it but they did. (Tyler: “Nice big cock.”) Even a hummingbird couldn’t catch Tyler at work.”

Now what many people missed is that these types of flashes occurred earlier in the movie. When the narrator is suffering from insomnia, Tyler appears in four flashes. Blink and you’ll miss them.

This is the process of Tyler manifesting himself in the narrator’s mind. Then the narrator meets (hallucinates) the complete Tyler for the first time on the airplane and the plot is set in motion. Tyler Durden starts setting Fight Clubs in major American cities and later renames it Project Mayhem. His ultimate goal is to blow up all financial buildings, so that all credit card data is destroyed and society can start again at zero.

At the end, the narrator discovers Tyler’s plans and wants to stop him. He shoots himself through the mouth and Tyler drops dead. The narrator is severely wounded, but he survived. Then his love interest Marla is delivered by his (Tyler’s) soldiers. They have a final conversation while the city block around them is reduced to cylinders. “You met me at a very strange time in my life”, is the final line.

But then! As the two lovers watch the inferno, we get an original Tyler Durden dick flash!

So that means the narrator did not really kill him. The mischievous Tyler is still in there and will definitely come back to once again become the narrator. So in the end it is Tyler that wins.

Dungeon Classics #18: Meet the Feebles

FilmDungeon’s Chief Editor JK sorts through the Dungeon’s DVD-collection to look for old cult favorites….

Meet the Feebles (1989, New Zealand)

Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Danny Mulheron, Donna Akersten, Stuart Devenie
Running Time: 97 mins.

Before he got into serious filmmaking with Heavenly Creatures and The Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson was just having fun in New Zealand. His second feature film after Bad Taste is this weird puppet movie which is filled with sex, violence, dark twisted humor and thick Kiwi accents. The Feebles is a variety show starring the hysteric Heidi the Hippo. Behind the scenes, dark things are going on. Bletch the Walrus, who runs the show, is also an exploitative gangster dealing drugs and cheating on his girlfriend Heidi. Trevor the Rat is shooting puppet porn in the basement and attempts to drug and rape one of the dancers (a dog). And a paparazzi fly is constantly hanging out in the toilet eating shit and making up lies about the cast members. As can be expected from Jackson at this point in his career; there are plenty of body fluids flying around. Obviously it’s not for all tastes, but if you are curious about the legendary director’s early stuff, look no further.