Recurring Cast: D. J Cotrona, Zane Holtz, Eiza Gonzales, Jesse Garcia, Madison Davenport, Brandon Soo Hoo with Wilmer Valderrama and Robert Patrick
This season was something I passed on when it first hit my radar. After Hannibal, I am open to the idea of great movies being remade into TV shows, but From Dusk Till Dawn is such a cult film that it is impossible to replicate again. The two direct-to-TV sequels (hmm, B Movie Wednesday material, perhaps?), tarnished the classic that was the original and surely the TV show would merely do the same once again. Surprisingly, when I was convinced by Netflix’s several ads on the show, I enjoyed this series much more than I thought I would.
That isn’t to say that the expected flaws aren’t there. As you first watch this series, you cannot help but wish that you were watching the movie instead. D. J Cotrona is great as Seth Gecko, but he isn’t quite George Clooney. The first episode takes pride in the fact that it uses the same lines and gestures as the movie, yet all it does is make us want to see the original cast in action. Sure, Zane Holtz is easily the better actor compared to Quentin Tarantino, but the moment you add Tarantino to a flick it adds to the cult charm. Throwing an unknown man into the role takes time to settle on the viewer, which could have meant a failed pilot episode. The show essentially takes the original story, but stretches it into ten episodes. For example, the first 40 minute episode is just the first scene where the Gecko brothers shoot up a gas station. Robert Rodriguez (the best weapon the show has is that Rodriguez is the man behind this show, rather than a new director who just wanted to make the movie again), wants to explore the extended universe of this movie, so rather than having the story race from set piece to set piece, he takes his time to show us Seth’s wife, the mythology of these vampires and Richie’s visions. Sure, it is great having the vampires of this show explained in a way that makes them more than your stereotypical blood-sucker, but certain elements of the show feel over-cooked. Richie killing the bank-teller hostage takes far too long, as the episode’s only job is to tell that particular scene. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
But the quality is always there. Once you have accepted the style of the show, you can get into the story a lot more. The dialogue is always razor sharp and D. J Cotrona in particular has fun chewing the scenery with some monologues ripped straight from a Tarantino. The action is a lot better than the movie with some tense show-downs between certain characters. The vampires remain threatening until the very end, more than cannon fodder, as they became in the film. The series adds a sub-plot where Earl McGraw (the Ranger shot in the first scene of the movie), has a partner, intent on hunting them down. He becomes one of the best things about the show, because his story is new and as it affects the storylines of the Geckos and the Fuller family, we cannot help but wonder what effect he will have on the show. Rodriguez balances the new and the old well, so we never get bored of the fact we have already been here before with the movie. There is enough to draw in the old crowd.
The second half is a lot better. When the gang finally gets to the Titty Twister, the story breaks away from the movie. The same beats are still there. Eiza Gonzales gets to do the famous Salma Hayek strip tease, Sex Machine’s penis gun is back in action and certain events happen when they are supposed to. However, there is so many more layers to the action this time around that we barely recognise what is going on. We know that the next plot point in the movie is that ‘this character’ gets bitten, but we have no idea when the show will actually do it, which Rodriguez enjoys playing with. It makes for some great moments. It is enjoyable to spend time with this vampire cult and figure out more about them. Sure, the flashbacks and dream sequences that are inserted to bloat the running time will begin to annoy most of the viewers, but the show is kept to such a crisp and fast pace that it is a mere blip in a very well-oiled machine. From Dusk Till Dawn might not achieve the success of the original movie, but for any fan, that has enough of an open mind to consider new readings of the film, will need to sit down and watch this show.
Final Verdict: Sure, we have seen this story before, but is it really hard work to see it again? From Dusk Till Dawn is clever, witty and action-packed.