A few weeks ago, I went to see the movie Overlord. Haven’t heard of it? Yeah, I don’t think many did. Pretty good. Maybe check it out when it hits Netflix. If you like action-horror at all.
The film begins as a fairly standard—relatable but not particularly powerful—WWII film. Partway through however, it transforms into a body-horror strewn monster movie. Usually such [blank]-to-horror genre transformations are found in crappy B-splatter films, but since this was a Bad Robot production, I thought I’d give it a go.
As I said, pretty good.
One thing that stood out, was Overlord didn’t fetishize its transition between genres. It didn’t obsessively focus on it as the crux of the narrative; it was just the path it took. Which got me thinking. A lot of movies really do hyper-focus on one specific piece of their structure. Or an aspect of one of their characters. Or another specific element that is highlighted as important beyond all else. The best word I can think to describe this is: fetishization.
I think there’s a lot to talk about in how we fetishize elements of the stories we both tell and consume. I decided I’d like to explore this in a post one day. But not today. Instead, I thought I’d do a comparison between Overlord and the 1996 film From Dusk Till Dawn, which shares this two-part structure but absolutely does fetishize the transition.
To do it right, I re-watched From Dusk Till Dawn.
THEN I decided, instead of a dry old compare-and-contrast, it would be much funner, just to live-blog the movie.
So that’s what I did. Please enjoy.
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996): A Live-Blog
The Dimension logo always makes me think of Scream. Why is that?
(Uhhhnnn! Because it’s the same opening stupid!)
Yeah, but why Scream, specifically, and not some other—never mind.
Empty highway in the desert. I’m a bit behind in typing—oh shit, subtitles. Let me just disable these…
(If I’m to be honest, I’ve already paused the film to catch up. This might take a while.)
((SIDE NOTE: “awhile” and “a while” tend to have opposite meanings though they’re used interchangeably.))
Oh SHIT, is that Michael Parks’s Ranger Earl McGraw?
It is! Crazy.
No one swears like Michael Parks
Store clerk talking to Michael Parks. A bit of ominous foreshadowing.
Robbers hiding in the store the WHOLE TIME!
Huh. Clooney’s pretty good at being scary. Who knew?
(Wait, there’s my timer. I’m making sweet and sour pork.)
Michael Parks just died. Along with any theory about a Tarantino/Rodriguez Cinematic Universe.
Elements of QT in the dialogue. Okay yeah—just checked—he co-wrote this. I’d thought he just acted in it.
This is super Robert Rodriguez though. The gas station shootout here may be some of his best work.
QT has his leg out the window in the car. Just like the girl in Death Proof.
Oh my god! QT’s duck-lip acting! It’s so terrible.
Ooh. They had a woman in the trunk all along.
In a motel room now. They are definitely going to kill her.
Yup. QT and Clooney are arguing. QT’s going to casually shoot her…
Maybe not. Clooney’s monologuing a bit at her. He’s legit scary.
QT inviting her on the bed to watch TV. Oof, this looks bad.
Enter family: Harvey Keitel and his two kids (Son and Daughter).
Juliette Lewis is always younger than I think she should be when I see her in a movie. Is she a IRL highlander?
Ugh. Harvey Keitel’s an ex-pastor experiencing a crisis of faith. He’s probably going to find it again before the end of the movie. Seriously, ugh.
(Woops. Timer again.) Sweet and sour pork. Yum.
Oh, dang. QT’s character’s a sex predator. And he killed the hostage woman off-camera. At first, I thought his interactions with her weren’t going to be sexual, and that would have been an interesting narrative choice. This is less good. Call me naïve, I guess.
Yup. QT is definitely getting killed by vampires later.
Showing QT as a rape-murderer here, they’re creating a gradient of evil. Classic move to get your audience to identify with a lesser-of-two-evils protagonist (Clooney).
Harvey Keitel (HK) and family arriving at the motel. Almost run over Clooney in their motor home.
QT banging on HK’s door. Some kind of story about ice buckets? Then he just pulls out his gun. Why the ruse? I don’t get it?
HK standing up to Clooney over taking his kids hostage too. Clooney having none of it.
And away we go in the family’s motorhome.
Sad family backstory. Dead wife. Why HK’s on the outs with God, I guess.
QT ogling Juliette Lewis: Man, he really love’s feet. (IRL)
They’re stopped at the border. Our bad guys are hiding in the bathroom. HK’s arguing with Son about whether to tell the cops.
Clooney calls QT a nut. QT’s really pissed about it
Hi Cheech! (Cheech is a cop at the border)
HK being super suspicious.
QT’s such a bad actor.
(Ooph. I may have overdone it on the sweat and sour pork.)
Through into Mexico. Some festive, vaguely Mexican music.
Okay, I know this a surprise-vampire movie, but at this point we’re really not supposed to realize that. Which means for all intents and purposes, it’s a crime movie right now. And if that’s the case, the pacing is really weird.
Okay, they’re at the vampire-bar strip club. (We’re not supposed to no it’s full of vampires though.)
Cheech again! (No longer a cop.) He keeps saying, “pussy,” to draw people in. Apparently they have a lot of pussy at this vampire strip club.
Clooney ALMOST just said “Dusk till Dawn” but then he didn’t.
They just beat the shit out of Cheech. Would not fly at most bars, strip or otherwise.
Some nice boobs. Alright.
Why does Danny Trejo look so skinny here as the bar tender?
Trejo tried to kick them out but HK saved the day. Pretty fortuitous he’s a truck driver. (Only truck drivers and bikers aloud at the bar.)
Got some high-class talent for a dirtbag-populated biker bar called The Titty Twister. Because they’re vampires, I guess, and all vampire women are hot or something.
HK and Clooney drinking to each other’s families.
Here comes Selmy Hayek.
I remember watching this as a teenager. Was pretty disappointed she didn’t get more naked during her dance. Didn’t really get the point, I guess. Or understand anything Hollywood politics.
Actually the dance is pretty … sad. Not because it lacks sexuality, or even sensuality (which it mostly does); it’s just so … undramatic. Boring, really.
Selma sure is hot though. I remember her saying in an interview she actually gained weight for the role because she felt the character needed to be more voluptuous.
QT drinking tequila off her feet. The man REALLY digs feet.
Oh. Some violence. Is this where the vampires happen? Nope, just a standard gun/knife fight. Cheech and Trejo get murdered.
Just killed Cheech. But he’ll probably come back to life in a minute.
Vampires in 3…2…1…
Yup! Selma turns into some kind of lizard vampire and kills QT. (Called it.) Clooney shoots her.
Trejo’s up. Cheech is back.
Is Selma still alive?
The dancers, band and staff are killing all the customers.
Dude in the band playing a guitar made out of a guy’s torso (and leg?).
Vamp Cheech makes a vampire pun.
Juliette Lewis stuffs (her necklace?) in Cheech’s mouth and he explodes. What? I may have missed something.
Okay Selma’s back.
The band’s still playing. I know they were expecting this bloodbath but still … respect.
Selma’s dead again. For good, I guess. Trejo went down too. Brought a pool cue to a bullwhip fight.
Who are these two new hero characters, out of nowhere? (Tom Savini and Fred Williamson???) Like, they’re definitely going to die later, right?
All the vamps are dead. “Aren’t they supposed to burn up or something?” Two seconds later they all burst into flames.
The band’s still there. Even as all the other vamps get staked. Like if the food at a restaurant came to life and killed the staff but the band kept playing the whole time. Seriously dedicated to the gig. Well done, fellas.
Dang, QT’s a vampire already!
Clooney’s taking his side… Nope. Just wanted to kill him himself.
As the narrative changed genres into a B-movie, so did the acting.
Flapping sound. “What is that?” Gee, I wonder. (It’s bats.)
I plan to write a post sometime about how most superheroes should be dead because they get into too many life and death battles. Same goes for HK’s kids. Where’s the son anyway? Haven’t seen him in a while?
Is that?? …No. Sorry, I thought I saw Brian Cranston for a second.
Heh. One of the new vampire killers is named Sex Machine. He had a pop-up dick gun a while back. From Desperado? Probably hurts like a motherfucker to shoot it. Oops. He just got bitten.
Oh, there’s Son! Okay. Hadn’t seen him in a bit. (Bit? Get it? Sorry.)
Clooney is all too eager to use the word ‘vampire’. I’d be more, “What the fuck ARE these?” He’s saying it like it’s going out of style.
Ugh. Clooney bringing up faith.
Clooney’s finally figured out HK lost his faith when his wife died. Brilliant! How did you ever realize? (sarcasm.)
“Are you a faithless preacher? Or are you a mean motherfucking servant of God?” Fuck off with this.
Oh boy. Big black vamp killer giving a ‘back in ’Nam monologue. Whoof. (I don’t know if QT wrote this part, but he’s definitely written better.)
Sex Machine transforms into a vamp in sort of slapstick routine.
He attacks the survivors. HK gets bit. So does Nam guy.
Seriously, this movie’s all over the place.
Nam guy throws vamp Sex Machine through the boarded-up window and the bats get in.
Clooney and the kids hide in a storage room. I guess vampires can’t open doors? HK’s still human, stuck behind the bar.
Literally thousands of bats in the building now. Turned into about 40 vamps.
HK’s made shotgun cross. Holding them back with the power of Christ … and buckshot.
He’s made it to the storage room.
HK says he’ll turn into a vamp within an hour? Sex Machine turned in like 10 minutes. Nam guy in like five seconds.
They’re making weapons in the storage room. They’re all pretty dumb. Does a holy water balloon work if it’s made with a condom? Prophylactics were not supported by the church at this point, I think. Are they even now?
HK’s making his kids swear they’ll kill him when he transforms. Otherwise he’ll kill himself right now. But if kills himself he’ll just turn into a vamp right away. Your logic is flawed Mr. Keitel.
Off they go to kill vamps.
I’d thought that I’d forgotten a lot of this movie. But no. Like, really, just … nothing happens. Vampires appear. They kill vampires. And that’s about it.
HK’s cross gun really only seems to be effective as a gun.
Clooney vs vamp Sex Machine. VSM’s head comes off. Never bring a sex machine to a bullwhip fight.
From Dusk Till Dawn
VSM’s headless body has turned into a ROUS (Rodent Of Unusual Size) (like in Princess Bride). Makes sense.
Juliette Lewis takes down the rat.
Rodent of Unusual Size
The Princess Bride
Nam guy looks dumb as a vampire. HK sticks his shot gun through his body to shoots other vamps.
HK’s transformed to a vamp now. Let’s see if the kids fulfill their promise.
Oh snap! HK bites his son! I thought the kids were going to live!
Son kills Dad. Other vamps rip Son apart. Daughter (sister) shoots Son (brother) who then explodes.
Just Clooney and Juliette Lewis left.
Looks like the sun’s coming up. Leaking through the walls.
Vamps have to squirm between beams of light, like Catherine Zeta-Jones with her bum in that movie.
Shooting holes in the walls to let more sun in.
Clooney’s buddies show up and bust down the door.
Light hits the disco ball and all the vamps explode.
Cheech says, “From Dusk till Dawn”! WOO!
Clooney and Cheech negotiating percentages on their original crime deal is the best part of this movie.
Clooney and Juliette Lewis having a moment. She’s going to go with him, isn’t she? Super cheesy.
Well, she asks, but he says no. That’s a little better, I guess.
Zoom out from the bar to see it’s sitting on top of an ancient temple pyramid, set against a cliff face with hundreds of semi-trucks dumped into the valley bellow.
Well, making this was actually pretty fun. And not TOO, too boring, I think. Maybe we should do it again?