If I have to say what my earliest movie memory was, I’d have to say literally any part of 1996’s From Dusk Till Dawn. Sure, by most people’s standards a 4 year old wouldn’t be watching that (then) R rated vampire flick, but what can I say other than I had an awesome childhood. So you can safely assume that as a lifelong fan I was either thrilled to bits or *bloody* frustrated when I heard they were making a From Dusk Till Dawn TV show. At first I was afraid, I was petrified. Kept thinking I couldn’t live without George Clooney by my side. But From Dusk Till Dawn spent so many nights thinking of how it did me wrong (the sequels), and it grew strong. And it learned how to get along (on TV). So now From Dusk Till Dawn is back, from El Rey Network. And while it may have found me here with a sad look upon my face, seasons one and two were a pleasantly *awesome* surprise. So, now into its third season, did From Dusk Till Dawn make me change that stupid lock or did I make it leave the key? Well let me tell you in just one second, if it came back to bother me…
In short; like the Kool-Aid man, From Dusk Till Dawn season 3 smashed through my wall and shouted “Oh no not I! I will survive!” with yet another satisfying season. *Check out the first season trailer below – no spoilers here*
Helmed by Robert Rodriguez (director and co-creator of the original From Dusk Till Dawn) and produced by Rodriguez’s television network ‘El Rey’, FDTD the series is a reworking of the cult classic film that expands on the mythos of the Mesoamerican Vampire world.
As a short spoiler free recap of ‘the road so far’ (bite me, Sam and Dean), Season 1 introduced us to the Gecko Brothers, Seth (DJ Cotrona) and Richie (Zane Holtz), career criminals who kidnap a nice little Christian family and their motor home in order to make a break for the Mexican border. They arrive at their rendezvous point – everyone’s favourite biker dive ‘The Titty Twister’, where they soon discover that all those dancing girls and bad hombres are actually bloodsucking snake-vampires. Throw in Fez from That 70’s Show (Wilmer Valderrama – no I’m not kidding) as a kickass vampire and a sub-plot about an ancient vampire labyrinth and you’ve got a hell of a season. The second season builds on this with us returning to our now separated Gecko brothers as they both inevitably reunite again in the face of an even older and even badder hombre – vampire lord Malvado. Or whatever he was called. The dude collected people’s faces okay? Vampire Fez returns (what a BAMF) among others and we learn more about the Culebra (vampire name for vampires) world. Now we find our Geckos working as ‘collectors’ for another Culebra lord, when suddenly a newer, older, and -you guessed it- badder hombre arrives and proceeds to lay waste to the Vampy head honchos.
” ‘Take up a hobby’ they said. ‘Making skull abacus’ is illegal’ they said.”
Right, now we’re all up to date, let’s dive into the jugular of this season of From Dusk Till Dawn. Season 3 sees our sweet Christian girl Kate (Madison Davenport) go Dark Willow on us as she is possessed by the ancient demon ‘Amaru’ who seeks to open the gates to hell and enslave both human and vampire races alike. Sounds neat, right? Of course this upsets our vampire overlords, but they don’t get to be mad for long as all but one of them are killed and the surviving lord goes into hiding. Enter the Gecko Brothers and their rag-tag band of super friends who are now tasked with averting the end of the world. How very Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Now I’m being deliberately vague here to avoid spoilers, but let me tell you right now that this season of FDTD is more ‘creature feature’ than the second, but is still just as good. DJ Cotrona and Zane Holtz both turn in good performances, reprising their roles as Seth and Richie Gecko, with a solid supporting cast being made up of returning members Jake Busey (Sex Machine), Eiza Gonzalez (Santanico the vampire queen), Jesse Garcia (Ranger Gonzalez) and more. For me the standout performances of the season had to be DJ Cotrona, knocking it out of the park yet again as our replacement George Clooney, and newcomer Tom Savini. Yes, hardcore horror aficionados you heard correctly, Mr. O.G Sex Machine and horror FX maestro himself is back in From Dusk Till Dawn! For the uninitiated, Tom Savini played the character Sex Machine in the original film, a part now filled by Jake Busey in the series. Here Mr. Savini returns as an ancient Mesoamerican warrior who is recruited by the Geckos to slay some beasties. Sound awesome? Damn right it does, and add in his trademark humour and a TON of fun throwbacks to the original Sex Machine and you’ve got one hell of a standout performance.
Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Mesoamerican blood sucking snake vampire bulls**t OMG run.
Action is the name of the game here, and season 3 of FDTD doesn’t disappoint. Striking a balanced pace of drama and action that more self-serious shows like True Blood never could, FDTD finds a way to make every episode feel fresh and popcorn-y without going stale. Fight sequences here are well choreographed and punchy, with the new addition of regular ‘big bads’ popping up every episode or two to keep things fresh. More than any other season, this season feels very much like Buffy the Vampire Slayer; in almost every episode our characters face a new and interesting beastie, while something darker brews in the background. This leads me to my first (of 2) issues; sometimes there are too many balls in the air. As the season goes on, characters we thought were more important earlier are given less screen time in favour of the new threat that’s appeared with each episode. After episode 4 we’re almost halfway through the season and some of our characters are already taking a backseat only to pop up later in the climax. While this small criticism doesn’t really affect the show as a whole, it does leave a certain villain somewhat neutered after such a strong setup in the early episodes.
“Hey, what’s up Mr. Clooney? Oh I’m just chillin’, totally not showin’ off my bod. You know me, George.”
By far the biggest selling point this season has, beside its name and fanbase, is its playful writing. As many know, Quentin Tarantino penned the screenplay of the original film (and also starred as Richie Gecko), and the flavour of his writing is alive and well here as the writing team behind From Dusk Till Dawn continues to impress. There’s enough colourful language for everyone and enough pop-culture quips to make your head spin. Not to mention the puns. Oh, the puns. I can definitely see some viewers not enjoying this style of cornball writing at times, but for me it comes with the territory. You sat down to watch a show about Mexican snake vampires and ancient demons, what did you expect? This writing would of course be nothing without the delivery and after 3 seasons I am still impressed by the cast of this show. DJ Cotrona and Zane Holtz have great delivery as the Gecko Brothers, with Eiza Gonzalez being a little underused as vampire queen Santanico. As I said earlier Tom Savini is a stroke of genius as Burt the beast slayer, and Jake Busey is given his time to shine in some awesome back and forth with Burt as the new Sex Machine. With that, here comes my second (and final) criticism; Maurice Compte as villain ‘Brasa’ is a bit bland, and his ‘boss’ Madison Davenport as Amaru is kind of cartoon-y when she was previously one of the highlights of the show. But just like Dark Willow in Buffy, sometimes you just can’t take the cute girl seriously when she does her angry face. Scratch that, Dark Willow was amazing.
“That’s right, I dyed my hair red now because I’m evil. It’s not a phase, mom! Shut UP!”
All-in-all season three of From Dusk Till Dawn doesn’t disappoint with 10 solidly entertaining episodes that carry the torch of the series well, ending on a natural note that could either continue or conclude nicely. All the main cast return and nail their characters once again, even if some are somewhat underused (*cough* Santanico *cough*). I would have liked a little more Wilmer Valderrama but that’s probably just because I like seeing Fez as a bloodsucking badass. If you are a fan of From Dusk Till Dawn and haven’t seen the series then you owe it to yourself to check this out. You’ll see everything from ‘strongman’ demons and tentacle monsters to a cowboy with a scorpion tail that milks vampires. No, seriously. It sounds nuts because it is, but if you love this world (like I do) then you’re already sold. If not, FDTD will quickly work to win you over.
A damn good time for a fan or a fresh meal – I mean, newcomer… From Dusk Till Dawn is one damn cool show, and is one of the best, if not the most underrated show on television in the last five years.
From Dusk Till Dawn: Season 3 gets a fanglorious 90/100 – that’s an A for you, bloodsucker.
From Dusk Till Dawn seasons 1-3 are available now in store and on digital, check the Entertainment One website for more information.
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