What’s the point of remaking something if you can’t do it better than the original?
18 years after From Dusk Till Dawn hit theaters, Robert Rodriguez will see his television adaptation of the same name debut on the new El Rey Network. I was able to catch the pilot episode, which premiered this weekend at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas. While the first episode is a nearly shot-for-shot and line-for-line remake of a feature film, it does open up the door for interesting possibilities…
The hardest part about reviewing the first episode of “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series” is that it’s equally good as it is bad. Here’s what I mean by that – for those of you who have seen the 1996 film, it’s a god-awful rehash with cheaper sets and a lesser-than acting prowess. If you’ve never heard of nor seen From Dusk Till Dawn, well, it’s clever, cute, fast-paced and possibly engaging.
Going with the assumption that everyone on Bloody Disgusting has seen Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s film, I don’t understand the direction of the series. The pilot is trivial and over and above idiotic. Why the hell would anyone want to watch the exact same opening scene, extended into a 40-minute episode, with cheaper sets and even cheaper actors? It just makes zero sense. Even more disconcerting, D.J. Cotrona’s rendition of Seth Gecko is enraging. I don’t know if I should blame Rodriguez or Cotrona, but it doesn’t make any sense to have Cotrona do a crappy impersonation of the great George Clooney – why couldn’t he create his own interpretation of Seth Gecko much like Zane Holtz did with Richie Gecko (originally played by Tarantino)?
A brief spoiler(?) as the pilot ends with the convenience store shoot out, which makes me believe the entire first season is going to be a crappy rehash of the events of From Dusk Till Dawn. To me that’s impotent filmmaking, lazy storytelling, and a spit in the face to the fans that El Rey’s catering to using the title “From Dusk Till Dawn” (assuming that’s who they’re selling it to).
With that said, I am interested in seeing where the series goes when it’s not riffing on the original material. I’m hoping Rodriguez and company can get through the motions quickly and take us into new territory this season – but I doubt that’s going to happen based on what I’ve seen. And even if that does happens, can Rodriguez engage viewers with his own witty dialogue? Without Tarantino to the rescue, I see a dark future ahead for El Rey’s debut original series.
If anything, at least new viewers will enjoy the expanded chaos of From Dusk Till Dawn that’s jam-packed with wit, gore and surprises.