I’ve been watching and reviewing the new El Rey series, so I decided it was time for a refresher of the original incarnation.
The film is grittier, on TV Zane Holtz and DJ Cotrona never beak a sweat even in their suitcoats in the desert heat. Clooney looks appropriately greasy, there’s nudity, creative cussing and more carnage. The movie, which is 1/2 criminal caper and then abruptly turns into a vampire flick; progresses quickly in comparison.
Which makes sense, characters get well fleshed out. We see why Jacob’s faith is shaken, we see why Kate is willing to do whiskey shots with an ex-con who has them hostage. Santanica becomes a sympathetic character. In the film version she’s one of those spicy latina cliches and sticks her foot in Tarantino’s mouth.
In the series she needs Richie, in the film? She just chomps him. We meet Seth’s wife, where in the film she’s just an off handed comment. The cops who are cannon fodder in the flick get motivation, background and emotion in the series.
But there’s one character who doesn’t: Frost. But they have the same archetype. Big black dudes who are former military. But the film’s Frost (played by Fred Williamson, who has been making movies since the early 70s, and has quite a few upcoming) is integral to the longevity of the protagonists, he’s big as a house, but compared to war he thinks killing some vampires isn’t much trouble, he starts telling grisly a tale of serving in ‘Nam when Sex Machine goes vamp and takes a bite. but he fights until the end. The series’ Frost, who they find hiding in the supply room served in the Middle East and the vampires are giving him flashbacks. Very different reactions. He overcomes his anxiety just in time to fulfill the trope and sacrifice himself for all the white people. It’s ridiculous.
And Rodriguez has created a sensibly diverse cast for the series other than that major folly.
Also, Sex Machine isn’t in the series and instead Jake Busey plays Professor Aiden Tanner which is the direct opposite.
What I like better about the film? why do vampires have to be sympathetic, anyway? I like them as the are here, inexplicable monsters with insatiable thirst. It’s a mess of special effects, but it holds up well for being 18 years old, the vampires morphing into huge rats, faces in their stomachs, exploding pustules.
But is it scary? Nope. A wild ride at Titty Twisters, but not much in terms of a fear factor.