From Dusk Till Dawn – Helyer


I quite liked what Ruth Helyer had to say about Quentin Tarantino’s From Dusk Till Dawn (which she compares to American Psycho):

American Psycho […] leaks into differing categories, demonstrating characteristics of comedy, autobiography, spoof horror, bleak social commentary, conventional horror, and pornography. When Patrick carelessly shoots a street musician, the action accelerates into a “cops and robbers” type chase, complete with tires screeching, bullets ricocheting, and innocent people dying. Patrick’s self-parody is complete as he finally begins to discuss his brutal actions in the third person, referring to himself as “Patrick,” “Bateman,” and “he,” when throughout the previous narrative he has been “I.” The potential for characters within modern Gothic narratives to parody not only the genre, but themselves
suggests that the title is no longer a convenient genre “label,” evoking affected eighteenth-century novels, but a new and modern representation, or rather a fissure between representations, through which we can look back, to multiple scenes. Patrick encourages this by constantly filming everything, including himself.
Quentin Tarantino’s film From Dusk Till Dawn shows a similar irreverent mixing of seemingly established genres, suggesting that their “established” status is under threat. This text alludes to the western, the thriller, the black comedy, romance, the horror/vampire movie, the road movie, the buddy movie, and other film genres. Like American Psycho, Tarantino’s film attempts to portray the violent excesses of criminality and its ruthless and perverted desires. Actor George Clooney, despite [-p.742] his matinee idol looks and his fame as a star in a hugely popular television show, makes a parody of his role as “hero” by robbing banks and killing people. The quality of camera shots of his breathtakingly handsome face are at times quite stunning, again undercutting our ability, or inclination, to view him critically. The glorious use of color and clarity remind us of Patrick’s insistence on graphic, visual description. Within the narrative the brother of Clooney’s character refuses to die, and in keeping with the postmodern Gothic demonstrates a “coming back,” a “re-visiting.” Like American Psycho, From Dusk Till Dawn exposes contemporary culture as a mix of violence and “apparent” reality.” (pp.741-742)

Ref: Ruth Helyer (2000) Parodied to Death: The Postmodern Gothic of American Psycho MFS Modern Fiction Studies, 46(3), Fall, pp.725-746


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