From Dusk Til Dawn: All The Easter Eggs In The Horror Schlock Classic

Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez delivered a blood soaked film with a horrifying twist.

In 1997, filmmakers Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez collaborated on From Dusk Til Dawn, a horror action movie giddy on its own excess. Tarantino wrote the screenplay and co-starred; Rodriguez directed it. Both men were at their creative peaks–Tarantino coming off the success of Pulp Fiction (1994), Rodriguez coming off the success of Desperado (1995).

In the years since, Tarantino and Rodriguez have collaborated several times: Kill Bill Vol. 2, Four Rooms, Sin City, and the 2007 double feature Grindhouse. From Dusk Til Dawn remains the best output of that partnership. It combines both of their strengths: Tarantino’s trademark dialogue, and Rodriguez’s action-oriented camera work, which emphasizes every gunshot and vampire bite to perfection.

Here are 31 Easter eggs and details you may have missed in From Dusk Til Dawn. Several of these entries were from the DVD commentary track, featuring both Rodriguez and Tarantino. And if you liked this gallery, you might also like our Easter Egg Roundups for Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained, Kill Bill Vol. 1, and Kill Bill Vol. 2.

1. Earl McGraw

Character actor Michael Parks plays Sheriff Earl McGraw, a character who went on to appear in two of Tarantino’s other films: Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Death Proof. Considering that he meets a grisly end in this film, one might conclude that From Dusk Til Dawn occurs last, chronologically speaking.

2. The Wild Bunch

When Seth Gecko threatens the clerk, he threatens to turn the store into the “Wild Bunch.” This is a reference to Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch, a Western set in 1913. Like From Dusk Til Dawn, The Wild Bunch also takes place at the U.S.-Mexico border.

3. Popcorn

Listen to when Pete goes through the popcorn display after the Gecko brothers set him on fire. You can hear the sound of popcorn popping due to the heat.

4. An Apt Title

The title of the movie is an obvious reference to the night-feeding vampires that dominate the second half. But it’s also a wink at the old grindhouse theaters in the ’70s, which would play low budget exploitation movies, adult films, and double features into the wee hours of the morning.

5. Trunk Shot

This is a Rodriguez-directed film, but he paid homage to screenplay writer Quentin Tarantino, who also co-starred in the movie as Richard Gecko. Above is Tarantino’s signature trunk shot, which occurs in nearly every one of his films.

6. Red Apple Cigarettes

You can see a pack of Red Apple cigarettes on the dashboard of the car. Red Apple is a fictional brand that appears in numerous Tarantino films, most recently in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, where Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) does a commercial for the brand at the end of the movie.

7. Bank Teller

The bank teller who the Gecko Brothers kidnap and later kill is played by Brenda Hillhouse. Hillhouse was Tarantino’s acting teacher when he was 16 years old.

8. Playing Against Type

At the time this movie played in theaters, George Clooney was a television star, best known for playing Dr. Doug Ross on E.R. Tarantino was also a fan of E.R. and directed the Season 1 episode “Motherhood.”

9. Heidi Vogel

The news reporter announces Heidi Vogel as a sixth grade teacher who was killed during the Gecko Brothers’ escape. In real life, Vogel is a Post Production Supervisor and Manager, who worked on Tarantino films such as Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, and Kill Bill Vols. 1 & 2. She is currently a Post Production Executive for Netflix.

10. Big Kahuna Burger

Clooney buys Big Kahuna burgers when he leaves the motel to go on a food run. Like Red Apple cigarettes, Big Kahuna is another fictional brand that appears in Tarantino films. In a pivotal scene from Pulp Fiction, we learn from Jules that the brand is based out of Hawaii and makes some “tasty burgers!”

11. Producer Cameo

You can see From Dusk Til Dawn’s executive producer, Lawrence Bender, in the background of the diner scene when we first meet Jacob and his family. Bender also produced Tarantino’s early films, beginning with Reservoir Dogs in 1992 and ending with Inglourious Basterds in 2009.

12. Tarantino Loyalists

Tarantino has a habit of working with the same actors across multiple films. Harvey Keitel, who plays Jacob, also played Mr. White in Reservoir Dogs and Winston Wolf in Pulp Fiction. Juliette Lewis, who plays Kate, also portrayed notorious spree killer Mallory Knox in Natural Born Killers, for which Tarantino received a story credit.

13. Rodriguez Loyalists

Rodriguez also likes to work with the same actors. Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin, and Salma Hayek all appeared in Rodriguez’s prior film, Desperado, before appearing in this one. All three actors have continued working with Rodriguez in the years since. Both Marin and Trejo have starred in Rodriguez’s Spy Kids and Machete franchises.

14. Assault on Precinct #13

Scott is wearing a Precinct #13 shirt. This is a reference to the 1976 action thriller Assault on Precinct #13. Similar to From Dusk Til Dawn, that movie is also about a group of people who are trapped in a building under siege.

15. Okay Ramblers…

When Seth tells everyone to get into the RV, he says, “Okay ramblers. Let’s get ramblin’.” This is the same line that Joe Cabot uses in the opening scene of Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, after he buys his henchmen breakfast and they’re about to start the robbery.

16. Foot Shots

Tarantino has a well-documented habit of shooting women’s feet in all of his films. In this film, we get a closeup of Kate’s feet, from Richie’s point of view, when they’re driving to the Mexico border. Later in the movie, at the end of Santanico Pandemonium’s sultry dance, Hayek’s character sticks her toes in Richie’s mouth. Perhaps, Tarantino casting himself as Richie was not a coincidence.

17. Cheech Marin Role #1

Cheech Marin plays three roles in this movie. He first plays a hard-nosed border patrol officer, who questions Jacob and searches the RV.

18. Cheech Marin Role #2

For Marin’s second role, he performs as Chet Pussy, the carnival barker and hype man of the Titty Twister bar. He tries to block our heroes from going in the bar; Seth and Richie both beat him up for his efforts.

19. Meet Sex Machine

Our heroes get help from two other people against the vampires. The first is Sex Machine, who is played by horror makeup and effects legend Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Friday the 13th). His weapon of choice is a whip, a callback to the vampire hunting Belmont family of the Castlevania video game franchise.

20. Meet Frost

Frost, the other individual who helps our heroes, is performed by blaxploitation star Fred Williamson, famous for his roles in Black Caesar, Hell Up In Harlem, and Hammer. Williamson’s Frost is a battle-scarred Vietnam veteran; he played a similar role in the 1975 film Mean Johnny Barrows.

21. Danny The Wonder Pony

Danny The Wonder Pony is a real fetish performer. He was a part of the New York club scene in the ’80s and ’90s, where he would earn tips for giving people “rides.”

22. Down In Mexico

The original song that Tarantino wanted to use for Santanico’s dance scene was The Coasters’ “Down in Mexico.” Rodriguez ended up using Tito & Tarantula’s “After Dark.” he had previously worked with the band during the filming of Desperado. Tarantino would later use “Down in Mexico” in his film Death Proof; it’s the song that’s playing when Butterfly gives Stuntman Mike a lapdance.

23. Improvised Dance

Salma Hayek’s Santanico dance was improvised. She did the scene despite having a genuine fear of snakes; she put herself into a trance in order to get through it. Tarantino also motivated her by saying that Madonna was interested in the role.

24. Green Blood

The vampires’ green blood was an attempt to secure an R-rating from the MPAA. It worked–plus, according to Tarantino and Rodriguez, the ratings board understood the exploitation vibe behind the film, and knew not to take the violence too seriously.

25. Death Scene

Tarantino was particularly proud of his death scene in this movie, and of how his life appeared to drain out of him when he collapsed to the floor.

26. Playing Pool

When Danny Trejo’s vampire character Razor Charlie dies on the pool table, pay attention to his eyes. Both of them roll out of the character’s skull and into the pool table’s corner pockets.

27. Improvised Action Line

One of the iconic lines in the movie is when Santanico tells Seth, “Welcome to slavery,” and Seth responds, “No, thanks. I already had a wife.” This was actually an improvisation on Clooney’s part. Rodriguez ended up leaving it in the film after the trailer featured the line.

28. Practical Effects

The special effects in this movie were largely practical, and were handled by special effects company KNB EFX Group. KNB hired Tarantino to write a screenplay that would show off their capabilities. It was the first screenplay that Tarantino was hired to write. He agreed to do it for free, on the condition that KNB would handle the special effects on Reservoir Dogs for free. The ear slicing scene with Mr. Blonde was the result.

29. Last Bullets

Kate asks if she should save the last bullets for them. And Clooney responds, “No, use it on the next fuck who tries to bite you.” This is very similar to an exchange in the film Assault On Precinct #13:

Napoleon Wilson : Still have the gun?

Leigh: Two shots. Should I save them for the two of us?

Napoleon: Save ’em for the first two assholes who come through that vent.

30. Cheech Marin Role #3

For Cheech Marin’s third role in the movie, he plays Carlos, the Mexican criminal boss who tells the Gecko Brothers to meet him at the Titty Twister.

31. The Legacy

From Dusk Til Dawn spawned two direct sequels: From Dusk Til Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money and From Dusk Til Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter. It was also turned into a television series, which aired to critical acclaim from 2014 to 2016.

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