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15 Surprising Facts About 'From Dusk Till Dawn'

Sean Hutchinson
George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino in 'From Dusk Till Dawn' (1996).
George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino in 'From Dusk Till Dawn' (1996). / Sunset Boulevard/GettyImages
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Before settling in for one hell of a night with Quentin Tarantino, George Clooney, and a bunch of vampires in Robert Rodriguez’s horror comedy, check out these fascinating facts about the making of the film.

1. EARL MCGRAW DIES, BUT LIVES ON ELSEWHERE.

The character Sheriff Earl McGraw, played by Michael Parks, is killed in the film’s opening. But he was resurrected for Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s collaboration Planet Terror.

2. THE GECKO BROTHERS ENJOY SOME FAMILIAR BRANDS.

The Big Kahuna Burgers they eat are from a restaurant featured in Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, and the Chongo Beer in the bar is from Rodriguez’s Desperado.

3. IT’S FULL OF FAMILIAR FACES FOR RODRIGUEZ AND TARANTINO.

Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez at the 67th Venice Film Festival.
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez at the 67th Venice Film Festival. / Andreas Rentz/GettyImages

Harvey Keitel appeared in Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction (and would lend his voice to an uncredited cameo in Inglourious Basterds). Danny Trejo has been in nine movies directed by Robert Rodriguez, while Cheech Marin has appeared in seven.

4. IT WAS TARANTINO’S FIRST PAID WRITING GIG.

Tarantino wrote the script for $1500.

5. TARANTINO’S INVOLVEMENT PAID OFF DOWN THE LINE.

Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney in 'From Dusk Till Dawn' (1996).
Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney in 'From Dusk Till Dawn' (1996). / Sunset Boulevard/GettyImages

Tarantino wrote the From Dusk Till Dawn script as a way to showcase the talents of a special effects company called KNB. In return, KNB agreed to provide the special effects for the “ear scene” in Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs free of charge.

6. CHEECH MARIN PLAYS THREE DIFFERENT CHARACTERS/

The Mexican border guard, the strip club doorman, and the gangster Carlos.

7. IT’S CLOONEY’S FIRST HOLLYWOOD FILM ROLE.

Tarantino pitched Clooney on the film after directing him in ER.

8. JULIETTE LEWIS WAS CAST BECAUSE OF HER FRIENDSHIP WITH TARANTINO.

Juliette Lewis and Quentin Tarantino
Juliette Lewis and Quentin Tarantino / Todd Williamson/GettyImages

She previously appeared in the film Natural Born Killers, whose original screenplay was written by Quentin Tarantino (his draft would eventually be heavily revised and he ultimately received a “Story By” credit), and Tarantino liked her so much that he suggested she play Kate, a role which he admittedly underwrote in the From Dusk Till Dawn screenplay.

9. THERE’S A GREAT HOMAGE TO RODRIGUEZ’S FAVORITE DIRECTOR.

The character Scott Fuller wears a t-shirt that reads “Precinct 13,” a nod to the film Assault on Precinct 13, the second film by John Carpenter.

10. APOCALYPSE NOW INSPIRED THE STRIP CLUB.

Rodriguez modeled the exterior of the Titty Twister on Kurtz’s compound.

11. SALMA HAYEK’S CHARACTER IS NAMED AFTER A MEXICAN HORROR MOVIE.

Salma Hayek in 'From Dusk Till Dawn' (1996).
Salma Hayek in 'From Dusk Till Dawn' (1996). / Sunset Boulevard/GettyImages

Tarantino’s script originally called her character “Blonde Death,” but after Hayek (a brunette) was cast, Tarantino changed it to “Satanico Pandemonium”—a Mexican horror movie he remembered from his time working at a video store.

12. RODRIGUEZ AND TARANTINO CAST THEIR EXPLOITATION IDOLS.

Both filmmakers are on-the-record fans of exploitation movies, and they peppered the movie with their favorites. Tom Savini, who plays Sex Machine, is the legendary stuntman and special effects creator behind movies like Dawn of the Dead; Tom Saxon, who plays FBI Agent Chase, is an actor who appeared in Enter the Dragon and other films; and Fred Williamson, who plays Frost, was in many popular Blaxploitation movies in the ‘70s and the original movie inspiration for Inglourious Basterds.

13. IT USED TO INCLUDE A FAMOUS TARANTINO SPEECH.

The infamous Ezekiel 25:17 speech from Pulp Fiction was originally in Tarantino’s script for From Dusk Till Dawn. It was meant to be spoken by Harvey Keitel’s character as he fends off the vampires before being killed.

14. RODRIGUEZ PREEMPTED AN NC-17 RATING WITH GREEN BLOOD.

The director knew that he had a big gory movie on his hands, so to guarantee the film wouldn’t get a dreaded NC-17 rating he made all of the vampire blood green instead of red.

15. THE FROM DUSK TILL DAWN STORY DIDN’T END HERE.

It spawned two movie sequels and a TV series using the film’s mythology.

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