It was 25 years ago this week when a slick little action-horror hybrid called From Dusk Till Dawn hit movie theaters and gave audiences their first taste of a Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino collaboration.
In 1996, Tarantino had already won an Academy Award for writing his masterpiece Pulp Fiction and Rodriguez was just coming off the first Hollywood production of his career with Desperado.
Written by Tarantino and directed by Rodriguez, From Dusk Till Dawn is a movie of two distinctly different halves. The first half is a dark comedy-action flick that follows two criminal brothers, Seth (George Clooney) and Richard (Tarantino), doing very bad things, including taking a family hostage, so they can stow away in their RV and get across the border to Mexico.
The second half switches gears and becomes a horror movie when the brothers and the kidnapped family find sanctuary in a dusty Mexican saloon only to learn that most of the patrons are bloodsucking vampires. One of those vampires is named Big Emilio, who is played by actor Ernest Garcia.
In the movie, Big Emilio transforms into a vampire and dispatches a few weaklings before meeting his demise. First, Big Emilio gets his heart ripped from his chest. Then, he is beaten with baseball bats and is finally killed when his extracted heart is stabbed with a pencil.
“Making [From Dusk Till Dawn] was the most fantastic experience I’ve ever had,” Garcia told Remezcla. “I didn’t know who was cast, so when I got there, I started seeing all these actors. First, it was Cheech Marin and then Harvey Keitel and then Salma Hayek. I was like, ‘Someone put me in a Hollywood movie!’”
Garcia, who is also a musician, remembers lots of birthday celebrations during lunch breaks, which included mariachi music. He said he wrote Hayek a love poem on a paper plate (“She loved it!”) and was introduced to Robert De Niro by Clooney one day when he visited the set.
“It was a blast,” he said. “It feels like it all happened yesterday.”
Here are the other Latino actors that make appearances as vampires in From Dusk Till Dawn. Just a heads up-most of the video clips in this article are extremely graphic and violent in nature.
She plays Santanico Pandemonium, an exotic dancer in the bar who performs a sultry dance with a yellow python before turning into an amphibian-looking vampire. She threatens to turn Seth into a foot stool but is destroyed when he drops a chandelier on her head.
He plays Razor Charlie, the saloon’s bartender who doesn’t want to let Seth and his crew order drinks. Later, he transforms into a scary-looking vamp but is staked through the heart with a pool stick.
He plays three separate roles: a border patrol agent, a colleague of Seth’s who meets him in Mexico at the end of the movie and the bar’s perverted doorman, Chet, who is killed when he gets a crucifix shoved into his mouth and melts.
Tito & Tarantula
The house band played by Tito Larriva, Peter Atanasoff and Johnny “Vatos” Hernandez initially keep the mood mellow while wearing their mariachi outfits, but as soon as everyone’s fangs start sprouting, they turn demonic, too. During the big bar brawl scene, Tito switches out his electric guitar for a guitar made from a human torso.