04 July 2007

Rodriguez (1995-1997)

1995 - From Dusk Till Dawn - What I see on the screen are two buddies -- Rodriguez and Tarantino -- just having a good ol' time making a movie. It's half an action-crime movie welded onto half a horror-vampire movie; they made sure they covered the two ass-kickingest genres in cinema. It features Harvey "Mr. Wolf" Keitel, Fred "Black Caesa" Williamson, and Tom "Dawn of the Dead" Savini destroying hoards of vampires in every way imaginable, exploding the bloodsuckers in fountains of goo. Plus, Salma Hayek dances around in a bikini with a snake around her shoulders. Engineered to purely entertain is what this is. If you're in the proper mood, it achieves this objective.

Tarantino wrote the script and almost directed it himself. I think Rodriguez was probably a better choice to sit in the director's chair; though this is his first horror movie, it feels like his type of thing. I can see some echoes of From Dusk in the decade-later Sin City in Rodriguez's methods, though he's a lot rougher around the edges here. Tarantino casting himself as the perverted, teeth-grinding brother of George Clooney, I think, speaks for itself. Tarantino writing himself a part in which Salma sticks her foot in his mouth speaks even more for itself.

One thing that struck me about the mythology of this movie: a cross will work on the bloodsuckers. You don't see this too often anymore. In the modern era, religious icons tend not to bother vampires anymore; their weaknesses have been pared down to sunlight, garlic and stakes in the heart. I'm not a religious man so this is the state of affairs in vampire movies I prefer. But, every once in a while, it's nice to see the old-school rules go into effect. My question is this: what counts as water when creating holy water? Jacob blesses some tap water that they load into squirt guns and that works OK against the vamps. Think on this: vampires are made from people. People are 3/4th water. Vampires drink blood. Blood is 50% water. Couldn't Jacob bless the water in the vampires' bodies and make them instantly burn up? (7/10)

1997 - Scream 2: "Stab" - During the opening scene of this Wes Craven sequel, Omar Epps and Jada Pinkett Smith get killed while watching Stab, a movie-in-a-movie that recreates the opening scene from the first Scream. It's all very hip and meta. These days, though, it's impossible not to think of the similar opening scene from Scary Movie. Which, I suppose, is potentially even more hip and meta. Which ever is officially hipper and more meta, Rodriguez's directing work is merely workmanlike. His Miramax-ordained task was to re-film the opening scene from Craven's previous movie and make it look slightly more Hollywood. That's what he did. (5/10)