A ‘guilty pleasure’ is something which incites both enjoyment and guilt, and possibly embarrassment. In the world of film many people could name a movie or two that would fit into the ‘guilty pleasure’ category, as many film genres are considered lowbrow – surely one of the requirements of a ‘guilty pleasure’. Genres like rom-com, horror, and action (of the Fast and Furious variety) all have a certain amount of novelty to them and are sure to feature in most ‘guilty pleasure’ lists.
Tackiness is also a necessary element of a ‘guilty pleasure’, and this is why my ultimate ‘guilty pleasure’ is From Dusk Till Dawn (1996). Robert Rodriguez’s film indulges in a huge amount of purely entertaining material, and also fits into that delightful sub-genre of ‘gunslinging-vampire-stripper’. This masterpiece really can’t be categorised into just one genre. Initially the film sets itself up as a road film, the male Thelma and Louise but with less legitimate intent.
Seth (George Clooney) and Richie (writer Quentin Tarantino) are unlikely brothers – physically the duo share basically no likeness, nor do they share similar character traits. Seth is attractive, charming, and seemingly wears the trousers. Richie on the other hand is geeky, agitated, and psychotic. The beginning of the film is unabashedly and seriously violent, but once the duo cross the Mexican border in a stolen RV containing a pastor (Harvey Keitel) and his kids Kate and Scott, it suddenly becomes a lot less serious.
The clan arrive at a bar called the Titty Twister: this is where the real fun begins. Right in the middle of a Mexican desert, the Titty Twister is adorned with neon lights depicting the bar’s name and is ‘Open Dusk Till Dawn’. The seedy joint is surrounded by motorcycles, drunken bearded men and accompanied by a soundtrack of angry American rock. The film indulges completely in this tacky, rock n’ roll-esque bar’s exterior and the inside doesn’t disappoint either.
Filled with unfriendly locals and beautiful but icy strippers, including the delightfully named Santánico Pandemónium (Salma Hayek), the bar seems to reflect its typical country saloon appearance. That is until Seth and Richie, unable to hide their moronic violent tendencies, upset the balance of the bar and incite the bloodlust of the strippers (who are also vampires, by the way).
In a refreshing change from most Hollywood vampire movies, these blood-sucking strippers aren’t just the same hot girls with a bit of blood smeared on their faces – they are instead pretty hideous facially (especially Hayek). After recently seeing films such as Lesbian Vampire Killers or Twilight, this gruesome twist is hugely enjoyable. Chaos quickly descends as the vampires attack everyone, explode with white goo and the house band begins strumming on a strung corpses.
*Spolier Alert* After the hilarious-yet-gory carnage only Kate and Seth are left standing. In an atypical Hollywood ending, Kate is left standing alone and bloodied in the Mexican desert, with Dark Night by The Blasters serenading her horror.
If you don’t feel the need to buy a Harley, grow a beard and traverse the Mexican desert in search of your own vampire strip club then this film is perhaps not for you. However, I think for most this film is so wonderfully ridiculous it’s impossible not to love its over-violent and over-sexed tastelessness.