Back in 1996, filmmakers and best friends Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino got together and wrote a screenplay called 'From Dusk Till Dawn' that centered on the Gecko Brothers, who were badass bank robbers who recently escaped prison and on their way to Mexico to seek asylum. The place they are to meet their criminal contact in Mexico to help them set up their lives turns out to be an old temple of blood thirsty vampires.
The film also co-starred Tarantino as well as a young George Clooney hot off of 'E.R.', Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Cheech Marin and Salma Hayek. Tarantino's script was amazing, violent, bloody, and a lot of fun. Even though the critics and box office receipts weren't that praise-worthy, the film became a favorite amongst genre fans and is still considered one of the best vampire movies today. It even spawned three sequels. Robert Rodriguez decided to create a television network called El Rey and chose to remake his film into a TV show for his new network, which is something both good and bad.
There is enough story line and characters to develop further in a TV show, but then again, you'll have to add a lot of filler if you're going to stick to the original film, which is exactly what Rodriguez did as he was a heavy handed producer and even directed the first four episodes of the series. If you've seen the original film, the story of that two hour movie is spread out over ten episodes, which are 42-minutes each. Needless to say, the writers and Rodriguez had to come up with tons of content to stretch this show out and if you're a fan of the original film's bloodier and scarier moments, you'll have to wait a while to get to those scenes.
But what works well is how they fill this time. They take a part of the original film and tell that particular key moment from different perspectives in each episode from the Gecko Brothers and the police officers that are chasing them down. There is even quite a bit of story involving the temple and mythos of the vampires. I like this aspect of the series, but it also means it might take an entire episode to get one key thing done that the original film accomplished in a matter of a couple of minutes. That being said, it was great to see some of the events that happened with the Gecko Brothers and the police officers prior to them escaping prison and entering the Liquor Store that started their fight for survival. In addition to that, the vampire species story line is quite good and delivers on most of your questions you would have as to their existence.
Then comes the question of replacing George Clooney and Tarantino in their roles, as well as the other great actors in the original film. Short story, it doesn't all look that good. The long story is that their are great flashes of good acting throughout the whole series, mainly being Zane Holtz who plays Richie Gecko (Tarantino's role). He is super creepy and sells it all very well. D.J. Cotrona plays Seth Gecko (Clooney's role) and bless his heart, he really tries, but he's just not that good. And Wilmer Valderrama sells the bad guy Mexican cartel quite well.
If you're a fan of the film, you might want to give this series a shot, but it's a slow burn and takes a while to get to the end. I'm interested to see where the second season goes from here and curious if it does the anthology format or will pick up right where the first season left off. If anything, it will be different rather than rehashing the same material from a better executed project from almost twenty years ago.
'From Dusk Till Dawn: Season One' comes with a good 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The picture itself on a whole looks very good. Clarity and crispness are prevalent throughout. The whole series has that yellowish color hue, which the original film had to give it that raw and grainy look. The series was filmed entirely on the digital format and has a very vivid and sharp look to it. The detail looks great all around, particularly in the closeup shots, which reveal all of the fine makeup, wrinkles, blood, wounds, and scars on the actor's faces. Individual hairs also show up nicely on screen here too.
Textures in the costumes and props pop out and the background items looks well defined, giving the image some depth. Even in the darker lit scenes, things look crisp. Colors pop off screen most of the time when we are not in the yellow hue of the image, which is quite a bit of the time. But again, that's to give it that rowdy and raw look. Some of the CG effects go soft in the darker scenes, but it's nothing to write home about. Black levels are deep and inky and the skin tones are natural. There were no big issues of banding, aliasing, or any other compression problem to speak of, giving this video presentation great marks.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and sounds impressive. This is an overall impressive sound for this horror-action television series and your surround sound system will get a decent workout. The sound effects are all robust and lively throughout. Whether it be gunshots, roars from monsters, or car engine revving, the sound is well balanced and loud. Club scenes are fully immersive with music, and ambient chatter with perfect bar noises in each corner of the room.
The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand, and is free of any hissing, pops, or cracks. The score and music is haunting and lively, and always adds to the suspense to each scene while never drowning out any of the dialogue or sound effects. The LFE is excellent and the dynamic range is very wide, leaving this with a solid score.
Audio Commentaries - There are six episodes with optional audio commentary by the cast and crew including Robert Rodriguez. They discuss some of the highlights of making the show, their characters, the tone of the series, the comparisons and differences from the original film, and some fun anecdotes from the set. These are all quite engaging and informative commentaries.
On Set: The Making of 'From Dusk Till Dawn' (HD, 23 Mins.) - A better than average promo reel of the making of the series with interviews with the cast and crew and some good behind the scenes footage. This is worth the watch.
Character Bio Featurettes (HD, 5 Mins.) - A quick way to get all the background information on the characters from the series and original film.
Q & A With Robert Rodriguez and Cast at the Alamo Drafthouse Premiere (HD, 34 Mins.) - A Q & A session moderated by Drafthouse CEO Tim League with Rodriguez and the cast of the show as they answer to a hyped up crowd about what it was like making the series.
SXSW Featurette (HD, 1 Min.) - Basically a trailer for the show and promos at SXSW.
Behind the Scenes: 'On Set: Brought To You By General Motors' (HD, 2 Mins.) - Annoying short sets of behind the scenes of actors using GM vehicles in the show.
Behind the Scenes: 'On Set: Brought To You By Dos Equis' (HD, 1 Min.) - Another annoying short behind the scenes extra with Wilmer Valderrama and the famous beer.
General Motors Commercial Featuring Seth Gecko (HD, 1 Min.) - An actual ad for General Motors featuring the character from the show. Horrible.
Dos Equis Commercial Featuring Carlos Madrigal (HD, 1 Min.) - An actual ad for the beer featuring the character from the show. Even worse than the last one.
Big Kahuna Commercial (HD, 1 Min.) - A fake commercial for the famous burger joint that is made famous in Quentin Tarantino films. Terrible.
Best Kills Video (HD, 1 Min.) - A very fast montage of the goriest moments from the series.
On Set: Episode 1 Day 1 (HD, 2 Mins.) - A quick look at some behind the scenes footage from the first day of filmmaking of the show. Not a whole lot going on here.
What's In The Briefcase Spot (HD, 1 Min.) - Yet another promo for the show in the vein of 'Pulp Fiction'.
Trailer (HD, 2 Mins.) - Full trailer for the tv series.
'From Dusk Till Dawn: Season One' actually happened. After four films, the first having Tarantino, George Clooney, Juliette Lewis, and Harvey Keitel, the same filmmaker wanted to remake his own creation in the form of a television show for his new television network El Rey. The series looks good and goes deeper into the mythos of this vampire horror story as well as some background information on the infamous Gecko brothers, but a lot of it is very unnecessary. There is a quite a lot of blood, gore, and death scenes, but if you've seen the original film, you know what's coming. And instead of having the story told out over the course of a couple of hours, we have ten episodes totaling 452 minutes. The video and audio presentations are very good, but the extras are some of the worst bonus features to ever be put on a Blu-ray disc. Give this a rent first.