Robert Rodriguez has turned From Dusk Till Dawn into a series, airing on his own television network, El Rey, which is a reference to Freddy Rodriguez’s character in Planet Terror. We were given access to an advanced screener of the series premiere-something I have personally been excited about for quite some time. It airs March 11 at 9pm.
For those unfamiliar with the film, From Dusk Till Dawn is about the Gecko brothers who, having just robbed a bank, kidnap a family on vacation in their RV and force them to sneak them into Mexico. Here they are to meet their contact, Carlos, at a bar called The Titty Twister which turns out to be infested with vampires. The brothers and their kidnapped guests are forced to fight for their lives until dawn.
The show begins with a beautiful brunette girl being chased through the woods by some sort of South American voodoo crew and thrown into a pit of snakes aka, my worst nightmare.
Not the most intense way to start out the series, but once you piece together the brunette with the snakes and realize she is the Salma Hayek character from the film, the opener is a bit more pleasing. We finally understand how she became what she is.
Stepping away from the girl, we head to the liquor store in the perspective of Texas Ranger Earl McGraw, where the liquor store scene with the Gecko Brothers plays out. We didn’t see this perspective in the film so there is a new experience for the viewers.
Don Johnson portrays McGraw, normally played by Michael Parks. Despite Johnson’s ability to play a rough character like McGraw, I was slightly disappointed in the substitution. Parks, having played McGraw in From Dusk Till Dawn, Kill Bill and Grindhouse, has clocked quite a bit of time as the character and really cannot be replaced but I suppose it had to happen to separate the show from the film.
McGraw has a partner in the form of Ranger Gonzalez (Jesse Garcia) who gets himself into a standoff with the Geckos’ in order to rescue McGraw from death by the hands of the brothers. The addition of his character is much appreciate as he will add a bit of Desperado to the story line.
The casting for the Gecko brothers, Seth (D.J Cortona) and Richie (Zane Holtz), was done very well. They seem more realistic as brothers than Clooney and Tarantino, who previously portrayed them. Not only do they actually look related, there seems to be more of a connection between them than previously felt in the film. Perhaps it is because we are given more time to see who they are than we were ever given before.
We get to see more of Richie’s twisted side, including exactly what he did at the bank robbery that put them into the bind they are in. It also becomes clear that Richie sees things that aren’t real, explaining his instability more.
Seth is calm and collected to Richie’s murderous spontaneity. It is his level head that bails them out of Richie’s constant mistakes. Yes, he has a dark side but perhaps he has been forced to be that way to protect his brother.
Carlos, the man the Geckos are to meet in Mexico, is played by Wilmer Valderrama. I am not too sure of this casting decision, as he will always be Fez to me, but I have faith that Rodriguez knows what he is doing.
The series is really a more fleshed out version of From Dusk Till Dawn the film. There are more backstories for each character and, if this whole episode is just the liquor store, then we can expect multiple episodes at The Titty Twister. Personally, this makes me all sorts of fuzzy inside. I am also excited that the story has been given a revenge sub plot, sure to spice the storyline up a bit.
Rodriguez has also enlisted filmmakers such as Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project) to direct future episodes and special effects guru Greg Nicotero to oversee make-up for the show. Cue enthusiastic applause.
Overall, the series premiere felt like a short Rodriguez film. I believe it holds the potential to be a popular show for horror fans, provided people are able to get the El Rey network to view it. For those who are unsure of whether or not you get the network in your area, go to elreynetwork.com to check local listings and online viewing opportunities.
All photos courtesy of the El Rey Network