We’ve all seen film remakes and even those remakes that were presented in a television mini-series format (see Rosemary’s Baby), but in recent years, we’ve seen the tides turn a little bit. Instead of your straight reboot scenarios, we are seeing filmmakers and producers taking their work to television. With episodic series like Bates Motel, we are diving deeper into the stories behind some of the horror genre’s cult classics. The most recent example of this is the El Rey Network’s 10 episode television series, From Dusk Till Dawn.
I don’t get the El Rey network with my local cable provider, so I was never able to check out From Dusk Till Dawn as it was airing. I’m not totally convinced that I would have sat through the show if I did have the network anyway. It wasn’t until I kept hearing and reading good things about it that I decided to grab myself a copy of the Blu-ray release of season one in its entirety and give it a shot.
It’s been almost 20 years since Robert Rodriguez released the original film adaptation of his vampire flick, From Dusk Till Dawn. It is pretty clear that since that time, Rodriguez has changed his mind quite a bit about what he wanted to present in that tale. The series sees new characters being introduced and explored, an entirely different breed of vampires, and the development of things only alluded to in the film franchise.
I think the thing fans are interested in the most is the vampires. The thing is, in this series, they aren’t your average vampire anymore. Now, I know that Selma Hayek’s Santanico Pandemonium resembled a snake-like creature, but there was no other mention of anything else snake-like in the first film. Yet, From Dusk Till Dawn The Series has changed all that and based their entire breed of vamps on a serpent-like mythology. At first, I wasn’t very pleased with this rather drastic change, but by the end of the season, the alteration grew on me and I actually rather liked it. It helped separate this piece of work from all of the other vampire and Dracula stories out there. It also helped Rodriguez and his team fill in a whole bunch of gaps that may have occurred, since they now had an entire mythos to fill viewers in on. We were able to explore the caverns and tunnels underneath the Titty Twister alongside the Gecko brothers, the Fullers, Sex Machine, and Ranger Gonzalez.
While I did enjoy exploring the Mayan mythology and the serpent-like creatures in-depth, I was really thrown off by all of the hallucinatory and supernatural elements mixed into this 10 episode season. We knew Quentin Tarantino’s Richie was pretty messed up in the head, but I never expected Rodriguez to go down the road he did. I guess, in the end, it makes sense… if you have vampires who worship serpent gods, they will have some pretty strange abilities, including causing visions and hallucinations.
Jake Busey will never be a better Sex Machine than Tom Savini, in my eyes, but I can’t say I didn’t love every other casting decision made for this series. Seeing Robert Patrick as Jacob, originally played by Harvey Keitel, was great, as was seeing the beautiful Eiza Gonzalez take over the role of Santanico Pandemonium, and the addition of Don Johnson as Sheriff Earl McGraw. My favorite performer, however, was hands down, D.J. Cotrona as Seth Gecko. This role, originally portrayed by the great George Clooney, was the biggest role to cast, if you ask me. How could anyone ever play it in such a way that Clooney did? It is nearly impossible, right? Wrong! Cotrona played Seth Gecko beautifully. From his movements and gestures, to even his voice and cadence, it felt like I was watching Clooney all over again. I couldn’t have been happier with the decision to cast Cotrona and I hope to see him in future films and TV.
Although the actors were the focal point of the show, another huge player in making this series work so well was the special effects. Although it wasn’t presented on the big screen, Rodriguez didn’t bother holding back any punches. There was plenty of blood and gore to be had, proving that Rodriguez still knows exactly what his audience wants to see. While there was quite a bit of computer generated effects, there was still a ton of practical work done, which every horror fan can appreciate.
Overall, From Dusk Till Dawn The Series turned out much better than I expected. I was getting a bit antsy in the beginning, but once the characters hit the Titty Twister, things picked up and I was right back into this show full swing. I’m not sure if there are any plans to continue this after this season, but you can bet I will definitely be watching, if they do decide to go that route. Be sure to check the series out for yourself, by picking up the 3-disc Blu-ray set, out now from Entertainment One.
I give this television series 4 wooden stakes out of 5.