Brandon Soo Hoo
So after the previous episodes final setup for the big reveal to our main protagonists, it was no longer a matter of playing the waiting game. At this point, it becomes a matter of how long do we wait in this episode before the proverbial “shit hits the fan”. With director Robert Rodriguez back at the helm we could be forgiven for expecting an action packed episode. And that is precisely what we get. The long and sometimes unbearable wait is finally paid off with an episode heavy on the gore and violence.
The episode begins with a very faithful recreation of the epic Santanico Pandemonium dance scene. This makes sense seeing as Rodriguez was the one who crafted this scene in the original film. While he had directed a few of the previous episodes, it seems like even he had been biding his time and waiting to direct this episode. As has been the case with the show thus far, a few crucial changes have been made from the film. Obviously the biggest one is the addition of some characters (such as Freddie) and the removal of others (the awesome Frost character played by Fred “The Hammer” Williamson). During the climax of Santanico’s dance, we now get Freddie impaling Richie’s already injured hand with a knife to the table. This of course sets off Santanico revealing her true form and the beginning of the bar room massacre. A good chunk of the episode focuses on the bloodshed, followed by the remaining human principals spending way too much on exposition, while the vampire side of things reveals much more to the story.
So given that the show has been building to this moment pretty much from its inception, the question remains of whether or not it could live up to the expectations. And for the most part it does. We get beheadings, ripped throats, guts and intestines flying around. Pretty much all that any gorehound could ask for from a television show which quite obviously has a certain limit that films may not be subject to. Unfortunately one simple thing completely drags down the mayhem. Given that we are in 2014, it should be expected, but one can always remain hopeful that it would be avoided. Of course, I speak of the use of CGI blood. I’m not sure what has happened in Hollywood that the rampant overuse of CG blood has taken over, but it needs to have a lid put on it. Whether it is for cost-cutting reasons, or avoiding the mess that real fake blood requires, but whatever the reason there are numerous issues with its use. The main one simply being how completely fake it appears to be. It becomes so distracting at times that it takes you out of the action completely. Well, as much as you can given the subject matter of a Mexican bar full of bloodsucking vampires.
Amongst the biggest changes involved here is the new backstory of the vampires. As opposed to traditional bloodsuckers, these creatures are based more on Mayan and Aztec religious iconography. This is all tied in with the snake imagery and worship, which also explains the shows new makeup for the vampires. Their fangs are more similar to a snakes fangs than traditional blood drinkers. And their skin appearance is somehow even more snakelike than it was in the original film. This is a more intriguing way of handling the villains as it helps to separate them from an oversaturated vampire market. We also are introduced into more backstory with the creatures and their hierarchy. While another interesting addition, it seems like it is added a little late and thus loses some of its effect. Given that we have been under the impression that Carlos and Santanico are at the top of the food chain, finding out that they are essentially “bitches” takes away a lot of the luster. This also makes their plan to take control seem less meaningful. Had we been introduced to some of these characters like Narciso earlier than the prior episode we may have been able to build somewhat of a connection, as opposed to the feeling that these characters are introduced just to be offed.
In the meantime, back with our human characters, we get an absolutely overwrought degree of exposition from Jake Busey‘s Sex Machine/Professor Tanner character. Remember the ending scene of the original Psycho when the psychiatrist comes in and basically explains everything away in a clumsy fashion? Well, these scenes are much like that, except way clumsier and overdone. I suppose the only good to come of it is giving Sex Machine a decent reason for being at the Titty Twister. And we do get another major change from the film in Richie’s connection with Santanico. It appears that he is more important to the vampires than originally hinted at. In the original film Richie is one of the first to bite the dust upon the vampires reveal, whereas here he has become a focal point of the story and where it can go from here. Whether that will continue or not is yet to be seen, as he is shot through the chest by Freddie to close the episode. Oh, and Freddie has been bitten, so it should also be intriguing to see how long before his transformation occurs, given that a few of the bystanders who were bitten by the very same Santanico have already turned. But of course, his change will most likely be delayed in order to help push the story forward.
At this point the series has finally gotten to where it needed to be, and the final three episodes should be offering something new as they have established new mythos and can really take off on their own path now that almost everything from the original film has been covered.
Stay tuned for the final Small Screen Terror editions covering the remainder of the show’s first season. It appears that the show has already been renewed for a second season, so it also remains to be seen if the season will have a definitive end to lead to a new story, or continue along the same story.
From Dusk Till Dawn The Series Episode Seven “Pandemonium” is currently available for instant streaming on Netflix worldwide (except in the United States).