Twenty years ago, the Fuller family RV was hijacked by the nefarious Gecko brothers, Seth (George Clooney) and Richie (Quentin Tarantino), resulting in a series of events that would lead to one long, epic battle between humans and vampires in a strip club that operated in the hours From Dusk Till Dawn. With a script by Quentin Tarantino that was directed by Robert Rodriguez, together the two created a masterpiece of B-grade cinema that only cinema’s most notorious bromance could. While it has gone on to spawn multiple sequels, prequels and a re-adaptation for the small screen, there’s nothing like the original, so here’s a look at some facts about the gore-filled film that started it all.
Tarantino Wrote The Script For $1,500 And The Ear Scene In Reservoir Dogs.
Special effects technician Robert Kurtzman had asked Tarantino to write a script based on his story that was designed to showcase his craft. For his efforts, Tarantino was paid $1,500, and Kurtzman’s company, KNB, helped put together the necessary effects with the ear scene in Reservoir Dogs for free. Kurtzman was the first one offered the chance to direct, as Tarantino wanted to concentrate on his role as both screenwriter and Richard Gecko. When Kurtzman wasn’t able to commit to the director’s chair, Tarantino offered it to Robert Rodriguez.
No One Wanted To Play Seth Gecko.
A veritable who’s-who of Tarantino and Rodriguez regulars were in talks to play ringleader Seth Gecko at some point, including Antonio Banderas, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Christopher Walken, John Travolta, and Steve Buscemi, but all of them were forced to turn it down due to scheduling conflicts. It was then pitched to George Clooney by Tarantino, who’d met him while directing an episode of ER in 1995 titled “Motherhood.” Clooney accepted, making it his first big-screen role. Both Buscemi and Roth were also approached to play the role of Pete Bottoms, the clerk from the beginning of the film, which eventually went to John Hawkes.
Rodriguez Kept Censors From Seeing Red.
During the film’s production, it became clear that Rodriguez needed a way to keep the incredibly violent film from earning the dreaded NC-17 rating. He came up with a simple solution: make the vampires’ blood green. With this adjustment, the second half was able to erupt into a full-on splatterfest and still make it into theaters with a much more accessible R-rating.
It’s A Love Letter To Exploitation Films.
If the plot concerning a humans vs. vampire showdown at an all-night truck stop in the middle of nowhere wasn’t enough of a hint, From Dusk Till Dawn pays a loving homage to old exploitation movies. The supporting cast includes both Tom Savini, who’s best known as a makeup artist in horror classics like Dawn of the Dead and Friday the 13th, and Fred Williamson, who was one of the most prolific actors in the blaxploitation genre throughout the 1970s.
Ernest Liu, who plays Scott Fuller, wears a shirt that reads Precinct 13, a nod to John Carpenter’s second film, the hyper-violent Assault on Precinct 13. Even the title itself is a reference to old drive-in movie theaters that would play low-budget cult movies like the one they were making ‘from dusk until dawn.’
Salma Hayek’s Character Was Originally Named ‘Blonde Death’ And Madonna Is Indirectly Responsible For Hayek Taking The Part
Tarantino was interested in casting Hayek for the role of the vampire queen, who was first given the name ‘Blonde Death.’ She was apprehensive about taking the role, given that her big dance routine involved some serious intimacy with a rather large snake, which Hayek was deeply afraid of. Once Rodriguez told her that Madonna was also eyeing the role, though, Hayek spent two months in therapy working to overcome her fear. Her character was renamed to Satanico Pandemonium, after a 1975 exploitation movie that Tarantino remembered from his days as a video-store clerk.
The Film Features A Recurring Tarantino Character.
From Dusk Till Dawn marks the first appearance of the character Sheriff Earl McGraw (Michael Parks), and though he’s killed in his opening scene, the character would go on to appear��in Kill Bill Vol. 1, and Death Proof. Parks also appeared as different characters in Tarantino’s Django Unchained and Kill Bill Vol. 2. Tarantino has called the once-blacklisted Parks “the world’s greatest living actor.”
There’s A Connection To The Walking Dead.
One of the first things Tom Savini’s character, Sex Machine, does is steal a beer from another patron using his leather whip. The bearded patron who loses his beer was budding effects artist Greg Nicotero. In the 20 years since From Dusk Till Dawn, Nicotero, who studied his craft under Savini, has made a name for himself as an effects artist in his own right. His work is most prominently featured on AMC’s mega-popular zombie soap-opera The Walking Dead. He’s also directed more than a dozen episodes to date.
It Was Almost A Tales From The Crypt Movie.
We mentioned this before, but early on in the movie’s development, it was being eyed as a big-screen follow-up to Tales From The Crypt‘s first movie, Demon Knight. Soon, disagreements with producers prompted Tarantino and Rodriguez to leave Universal and take their film to Miramax where they maintained more creative control. The same year From Dusk Till Dawn was released, Universal put together their own vampire tale, Bordello of Blood.