FROM DUSK TILL DAWN: From Movie to Series, Does It Hold Up?

Recently, I decided the time had come to watch From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series. I wondered if I would be able to enjoy a show based on one of my favorite movies; to be honest I was more then a little skeptical.
The movie came out a decade ago, and still lives in my memory as one of the single best movie-going experiences I’ve ever had. When it was released in 1996, I was sixteen. I loved movies then as I do now, but was far less enthusiastic about watching trailers, reading reviews, and generally being informed about upcoming releases in those days.
So it was that I found myself watching a movie I had heard absolutely nothing about. I had only purchased a ticket because I had a few hours to kill and the poster looked intriguing. For the first half hour I thought I was watching a gritty crime thriller starring two brothers with little or no redeeming qualities. I was enjoying it immensely.
It was after Salma Hayek’s enticing snake dance that the movie took an unexpected turn and cemented itself into my all time favorites list.
I wasn’t expecting vampires, but I was not in the least disappointed. So how could this TV show ever match up to that memory? The simple answer is it couldn’t. After ten years and two very mediocre sequels, I wondered what would prompt Rodriguez to revisit this story. Doesn’t Spy Kids seem more television friendly?
I settled in and started on the first episode. At first it just felt long. The entire first episode takes place in Benny’s World of Liquor, a scene that was only ten minutes long in the original movie. The only notable thing that was added to it was time. While I approved of Don Johnson taking up Michael Parks’ role of Texas Ranger Earl McGraw, I failed to see the point in giving me a lengthy back story on a character I knew wasn’t leaving that liquor store.
I couldn’t give up on a beloved franchise that quickly, though, so I continued watching.
Episode two came on and began slowly, but it quickly gained momentum. The first thing that really started to stand out to me was Zane Holtz as Richie Gecko. Unlike Quentin Tarsntino, Holtz makes the unstable brother menacing rather than perverted and slightly whiny. His brother in the show, Seth Gecko, is played by D.J. Cotrona, who seems to be doing a George Clooney impersonation. He does manage a very good impersonation, however, and I had no problem enjoying his performance.
It was half way through the second episode that I realized I was enjoying the added back stories and characters. By episode three I was hooked.
The show maintains the feel of the original film and includes every key scene. At the same time it adds new and unexpected changes to the basic story. Fans of the original movie might at times feel it moves a little slow.
It’s not till episode six of a ten-episode season that they find themselves arriving at the iconic Titty Twister bar. That might be difficult for some people to tolerate. I already knew what was coming in the bar, and while I was very eager to get there, I was also very interested in seeing more of the Gecko brothers prior to that.
The show includes factors that were talked about but never seen in the original movie. Things like the original heist that put them on the run, and Seth’s time in prison prior to that. It also dives much deeper into the other characters, namely the Fuller family, and adds a few new ones as well.
Someone looking for a show about vampires will most likely be disappointed by this one. People who want a show about the adventures of the Gecko brothers, which happens to include some vampires, will be quite pleased. While the time and circumstances of viewing will never allow me to love this show as much as I loved the original film, I’m not at all let down by this addition to the franchise.
Incredibly high praise considering that while I tried to enter the show with an open mind, if I’m honest… I was expecting to be disappointed.
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