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.

Scanners

Director: David Cronenberg
Written by: David Cronenberg
Cast: Stephen Lack, Jennifer O’Neill, Patrick McGoohan, Michael Ironside

Year / Country: 1981, Canada
Running Time: 103 mins.

Master of body horror David Cronenberg, moves into the mental domain with this masterful movie. Scanners are telepathic humans who pick up every thought in their surroundings and can ‘scan’ other people.

The drifter Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack) is a scanner who isn’t aware of his condition. He is a victim of it. But under the guidance of scientist Dr. Paul Ruth (Patrick McGoohan) – head of the scanner programme of security company ConSec – he learns to use his gift.

ConSec, like the United States army has done, uses these ‘telepathic curiosities’ to gather information on potential enemies. It goes wrong however, when the psychopathic super-scanner Darryl Revok (a superb Michael Ironside) starts an underground movement of scanners. And they murder anybody who won’t join them on their mission to conquer the world…

Ruth enlists the yet unaffiliated Vale to help him stop the telepathic maniac Revok. Together with Kim Obrist (Jennifer O’Neill), ‘good’ scanner Vale meets on his journey, he goes after Revok and a clash of powerful minds ensues.

Scanners shows once again why Cronenberg is one of the most skillful directors working in this genre. The way he is able to convey a sense of unease and danger with little means is remarkable. And Scanners – which allegedly had a troublesome production history – belongs to his finest works. With brilliant sound design and an extremely memorable ending.

Rating:

Biography: David Cronenberg (1943, Toronto), also known as the King of Venereal Horror or the Baron of Blood, grew up in Toronto. His father was a journalist and his mother a piano player. Cronenberg graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in literature after switching from the science department. He then turned to filmmaking and reached a cult status with a few early horror features including Shivers and Rabid. He rapidly became a very popular genre filmmaker and eventually a true auteur, making profound statements on modern humanity and ever-changing society.

Filmography (a selection): Transfer (1966, short) / Stereo (1969) / Shivers (1975) / Rabid (1977) / Fast Company (1979) / The Brood (1979) / Scanners (1981) / The Dead Zone (1983) / The Fly (1986) / Dead Ringers (1988) / Naked Lunch (1991) / Crash (1996) / eXistenZ (1999) / Spider (2002) / A History of Violence (2005) / Eastern Promises (2007) / A Dangerous Method (2011) / Cosmopolis (2012)

R.I.P. FilmDungeon

FilmDungeon.com (/ fiIḿduƞᵷeon /) was a website for cult-, genre- and exploitation films. The website was founded in 2008 by Jeppe Kleijngeld and was taken offline on 25 august 2020. A new landing page for the site can be found on the founder’s personal blog.

History
Dutch blogger and journalist Jeppe Kleijngeld founded the site as a pet project beside his full time work as an editor in business economics. Kleijngeld has been a cinema-nut ever since his parents bought him his very first movie encyclopedia. The reviews, credits and black- and white images obsessed him to a point where he wanted to see all the movies from the book. This mission was never achieved, although he certainly came a long way. And he created an IMDb-sized trivia database in his mind. Kleijngeld is especially fond of crime and horror flicks and westerns, but is open to everything that is cinema. He started FilmDungeon so he would be able to rant about films all the time and praise the ones that he loves the most. He was also hoping to pass on his enthusiasm to the younger film fans out there. His website could hopefully inspire a few kids – like himself when he got his first movie encyclopedia – to discover what a beautiful medium film really is.

Ending
Due to an outdated technical structure, and the large investment that it would take to upgrade the site, Kleijngeld decided to pull the plug in 2020. He was mostly working on his blog anyway, so figured he could integrate FilmDungeon within his blog that can be found under the url www.fragmenten.blog. As of 2020, most of the content has not been republished, but Kleijngeld has announced that this will occur from 2021 onward on a special landing page. He has also announced several eBooks that will be published in the coming years. Two of those will be focusing on the genres horror, car movies, drugs movies, cult films, spaghetti westerns and will also contain several special features. He will also release an eBook on American gangster movies for the completist.

See also
FilmDungeon landing page
My 10 Favorite Movie Openings
The Story of Film: Time Traveling For the Cinemad
The James Bond Features
5 Must See TV-shows Before You Die
10 Management Lessons From Highly Successful Gangsters
Stanley Kubrick’s Favorite Movie
Book: Peter Jackson & the Making of Middle-Earth
Jeppy’s 100 – My All Time Favorite Movies (2018)
Hunter Goes to Hollywood: Hunter S. Thompson Triple Bill
My 10 Favorite Horror Movies Ever
My 10 Favorite Movie Endings

My 10 Favorite Horror Movies Ever

Checked and double checked. Darlings killed! This is it:

10. Bad Taste (1987)

Peter Jackson’s inventive low budget debut film is a delight in gory horror and awesome humor. It’s about aliens coming to New Zealand to set-up a supply chain in human flesh for their intergalactic fast food restaurants. What they didn’t count on was secret agent Derek (played by Jackson himself) and his team! Great to see that the visionary director behind The Lord of the Rings trilogy started his career with this hilarious B-movie.

Greatest Moment: The vomit scene: ‘ahhhh, l think the gruel is ready!!’

09. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Back at the old days, they made great films too, you know. And the Universal Monster Movies are not to be ignored when you’re rating your all-time favorite horrors. The beautiful gothic scenery, spot-on art direction, excellent make-up effects, the universal themes, the humor (the monster smoking a cigar!)… The Bride of Frankenstein is the best in its genre and at least as impressive in the time it was made as its contemporary counterparts. Ehhh, which contemporary counterparts by the way?

Greatest moment: The monster and the hermit.

08. Army of Darkness (1992)

You want some more Evil Dead? Come get some! Ash is back with a chainsaw attached to his wrist and a boomstick on his back. This time around he’s kicking Evil’s ass in medieval times. Isn’t it groovy? Well, yes it is. Besides Raimi’s action-packed script and trademark camera tricks, fans can enjoy a brilliant turn from B-Movie star Bruce Campbell. With his masterful comic timing, loads of one-liners and his lady man skills, he makes Ash a truly lovable hero. Not to mention a horror icon. Hail to the King baby!

Greatest moment: The pit.

07. Scream (1996)

This postmodern take on the slasher genre is both an incredible homage and superb addition to the genre. The screenplay by Kevin Williamson is masterfully written and director Wes Craven finds exactly the right balance between suspense, teenage stupidity, humor and extreme violence. Followed by three decent sequels (and a tv-show), but this first one is the best by far.

Greatest Moment: The revelation who the killer is.

06. Predator (1987)

The first Predator is an unique movie that holds a very special place in my heart. The concept is fairly simple (mysterious alien hunts and kills soldiers and mercenaries in South American jungle), the execution is flawless. It features the greatest team of warriors ever assembled that faces off against the greatest alien ever created for cinema. It’s just awesome in every way.

Greatest moment: There are many great scenes featuring the predator, but Schwarzenegger’s team butchering an entire guerrilla army is so bad-ass that I have to pick that one.

5. Dead Ringers (1988)

Two bodies. Two minds. One Soul. Separation can be a terrifying thing.
No monsters or killers are needed to make a creepy film. The human psyche can be terrifying enough by itself. Jeremy Irons gives an Oscar worthy double performance as a pair of twins who become mentally intertwined together. Brilliant psychological horror by master of bodily transformation, David Cronenberg.

Greatest Moment: The superbly creepy credit sequence and the unsettling ending.

04. Psycho (1960)

Psycho is such an inspirational film that it spawned an entire genre of slasher / serial killer movies. With its groundbreaking narrative techniques and tension building it’s hard to deny the importance of Hitchcock’s masterpiece in cinema history. Janet Leigh is a joy to watch and so is Anthony Perkins in his lunatic performance.

Greatest moment: The shower scene off course, which is completely shocking to this day.

03. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

The scariest horror movie of my childhood and frankly an almost traumatic experience. I recently saw it and even though the scare effect is weakened down somewhat, it is still a deeply chilling experience. Master of Horror Wes Craven takes all the terrible emotions the worst nightmares can cause and uses them to maximum effect.

Greatest moment: The protagonist Nancy has a number of terrifying dreams.

02. Evil Dead II (1987)

Groovy! Comedy and scares are effectively combined in this sequel to Raimi’s classic The Evil Dead*. Yes, it is a sequel, the beginning is just an altered summary of the first flick. Bruce Campbell makes Ash a true horror icon as he chops up his girlfriend and fight his own hand. Slapstick humor and rapid chainsaw action make this a true classic in the genre and Raimi’s best film. They don’t make ‘m like this anymore. Classic.

Greatest moment: In the cellar with sweet Henrietta. Complete madness.

01. Dawn of the Dead (1978)

This is it, my all-time favorite horror movie. What makes it so good? It is just a trip to become part of Romero’s apocalyptic zombie world for a couple of hours. When used properly as in Dawn of the Dead, zombies are really a marvelous invention. They can be sad, scary, or comical and at the same time serve as a metaphor for the consumerist society. The shopping mall as a zombie survivor stronghold works incredibly well. The movie features well written characters, appropriately disgusting special make-up effects by Tom Savini and great music. It is the most atmospheric horror film; very rich in ideas and horrific imagery. I love it.

Greatest moment: Going shopping off course!

*OMITTED:

The Evil Dead (1981)

In 1980 three friends went out to shoot a cheap horror movie that was destined to become a genre classic. The handsome one, Bruce Campbell, became the actor of the group. ‘He was the one that girls wanted to look at.’ Sam Raimi later became a top director in Hollywood (directing Spiderman). And finally, Rob Tapert became a successful producer. The Evil Dead is still a very effective horror flick to this day with many unforgettable moments, such as the tree rape scene and blood-soaked finale.

Greatest Moment: The gory climax in the cabin.