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Featured Blu-ray Review: From Dusk Till Dawn Trilogy Set

November 27th, 2011

From Dusk Till Dawn Trilogy Set - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

From Dusk Till Dawn debuted in theaters 15 years ago and, while it wasn't a huge hit in theaters, it became a cult hit on the home market. It did well enough that two direct-to-DVD sequels were made a few years later. Now Echo Bridge Home Entertainment is releasing all three movies, plus a making of documentary, all on one a Blu-ray disc. It's has a low price-per-minute, but how many of the movies are really worth owning?

From Dusk Till Dawn

The movie begins with a Texas Ranger driving up to a liquor store looking to buy some Jack Daniels, because he's had one hell of a bad day. It's about to get worse, because the only other people in the store, beside the clerk, are Seth and Richard Gecko, who are two wanted bank robbers, and the two girls they are holding hostage. They are trying to keep low profile, but Richie doesn't understand low profile and he shoots the Ranger, kills the clerk and burns the place down. They then ride off with a hostage in their trunk.

When they get to a motel near Mexico, Seth has to leave Richie alone with the hostage, but when he returns, they need another hostage. They grab Jacob Fuller, a retired priest, and his son and daughter, and head to Mexico. When they get there, they stop off at the Titty Twister, which is quite possibly the toughest bar in all of Mexico. In fact, it might be too tough for the Gecko brothers.

And with that, I've seen every Robert Rodriguez movie ever made. He has directed about 15 films and, depending on who you talk to, this film is frequently in the top five on that list. I think that's being a little too generous. It's a good movie, I won't argue against that. However, it tries to be a little too cute for its own good. It seems too pleased with itself. It does have reasons to be pleased, including a strong leading performance from George Clooney. The special effects are great, as are the kills. On the other hand, the plot gets tossed out the window once the big twist is revealed and it devolves into mass carnage and when that happens it loses a lot of its appeal. At least it does for me.

From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money

Luther Hecks is just busted out of prison and the first thing he does is contact his old partner, Buck, and gets him to put together a new crew. There's a bank in Mexico that needs robbing. In quick order he grabs the old team, C.W., Jesus and Ray Bob, and they head to Mexico to meet Luther. Luther's trip to Mexico is a little more eventful. He drives into a bat that was flying way too low and it destroys his radiator. He's not too far away from the Titty Twister, so he walks there and talks to the bartender about getting a cab. The bartender offers him a ride to the motel, but instead takes him to his jeep. Turns out the bartender is a vampire and the bat Luther hit was a friend and he's looking for some revenge.

But this isn't the end of Luther. Instead he's turned into a vampire. That doesn't mean he's giving up on the heist. First he turns Jesus without the others knowing and the five of them head to the bank. Using his new vampire powers, Luther quickly gets to work robbing the bank, but he also starts turning his men into more vampires, til there's only one left. Meanwhile, Sheriff Otis Lawson shows up with the S.W.A.T.

The term "unnecessary" was invented for sequels like this. There is very little in this movie that is new and practically nothing in this movie that is as well done as it was in the first movie. The writing, the acting, the special effects, the directing, etc. are all a step down. Worse still, the film again tries way too hard to be cool, especially with funky camera shots. But this time, it doesn't have any real strengths to justify the infusion of style. The best part of the movie is the short cameo by Bruce Campbell and Tiffani Thiessen and that's over in the first five minues.

From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter

The third installment in the trilogy goes back to shortly after the Civil War. Ambrose Bierce has come to Mexico to join Pancho Villa's army. He's traveling by stagecoach to where Pancho Villa is, and in the same stagecoach are John and Mary Newlie, newlyweds looking to spread the word of Christianity. Before they can leave, a wanted criminal, Johnny Madrid, is brought out to be hanged. One of the people in the crowd is Esmeralda, the Hangman's daughter. She was told to never come to an execution, so when the Hangman see her, he punishes her. However, before Johnny can be executed, he's freed by Cathrine Reece, an outlaw looking to join Johnny. In the chaos, Johnny kidnaps / rescues Esmeralda, which causes the Hangman to round up a posse and go after them.

After a while, all of them end up at whorehouse / inn, La Tetilla Del Diablo, with a very familiar bartender.

Setting the film in the old West gives the film a little advantage over the previous installment, but it is still a huge step down from first installment. There are a few more characters that are interesting, but the acting is still pretty hit and miss, the special effects look cheaper than the first movie and there's a bigger sense of Déjà vu. It's better than part 2, but not by enough to matter.

Full Tilt Boogie

A 100-minute making of documentary that talks about the first film from the announcement at Fangoria to the final day of shooting.

The Extras

Full Tilt Boogie can be considered an extra in itself. As for the technical presentation, since there are three films on one Blu-ray disc and two of those were low budget films, don't expect anything amazing. Don't expect anything average. The video isn't great with far too many scenes that are soft, especially the night scenes. The colors are muted, there are compression issues. The sound has problems with the dialogue being too low in some scenes.

The Verdict

From Dusk Till Dawn is a good movie and it is worth owning on Blu-ray. I just wish there were a really good Blu-ray to buy. The Trilogy Set - Blu-ray costs $20 and includes two movies that are not worth renting, plus a feature-length documentary. That's too much to ask.


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