"From Dusk Till Dawn" looked like a box office misfire for hot young filmmakers Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez when it was released 20 years ago this week (on January 19, 1996). But like the strip-club vampires who ambush the fugitive Gecko brothers, "Dawn" has proven surprisingly resistant to death.

Despite its modest ticket sales, the bloody film became a cult hit that spawned a theatrically-released making-of documentary ("Full Tilt Boogie"), two straight-to-video sequels, and a horror series on Rodriguez's El Rey cable channel that will soon begin its third season. More important, it gave George Clooney his first big break in movies after his TV success on "ER." It also marked the first full-length collaboration between Tarantino and Rodriguez, and gave Salma Hayek the most iconic scene of her career, as a snake-wielding table dancer/queen of the vampires.

In honor of the film turning 20 years old this week, here are 10 things you need to know about this entertaining vampire flick.
1. "Dusk" was actually Tarantino's first paid screenwriting gig. It was commissioned in 1990 by makeup artist Roberto Kurtzman as a calling-card project that would show off his monster-movie makeup skills. For his effort, Tarantino received $1500 -- and Kurtzman's invaluable assistance, when Tarantino made his directing debut the following year with "Reservoir Dogs," in the notorious ear-slicing scene.

2. The Gecko brothers' reptilian name should have been a tip-off that Clooney's Seth and Tarantino's Richie would be fighting vampires. After all, they're named after the bloodsucker-battling Frog brothers (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander) in "The Lost Boys."
3. Earl McGraw, the Texas ranger played by Michael Parks (above), may not live long in "Dusk," but Tarantino and Rodriguez brought him back in "Kill Bill, Vol. 1" and "Death Proof."

4. Scott Fuller's (Ernest Liu) "Precinct 13" T-shirt is an homage to horror director John Carpenter, a Rodriguez idol, whose early film "Assault on Precinct 13" is also the story of a siege.

5. Rodriguez shot many of the interior scenes in an abandoned Lawry spice factory in Los Angeles.
6. In an early draft of Tarantino's script, the vampire queen's name was Blonde Death. But when Hayek landed the part, the screenwriter renamed the character Santanico Pandemonium, after "Satanico Pandemonium," a 1975 Mexican horror film he remembered seeing on the shelves during his video-store clerk days.

7. Producers initially didn't want Hayek for "Dusk," according to co-star and Rodriguez mainstay Danny Trejo; her breakthrough role in Rodriguez's "Desperado" didn't hit screens until just after "Dusk" wrapped shooting. In fact, Hayek didn't want the part either because she had a phobia about snakes. But when Rodriguez told her he was considering giving Madonna the role of the boa-wearing dancer, Hayek went to a therapist for two months to overcome her fear.8. Rodriguez came up with an ingenious way of keeping the ratings board from branding the ultraviolent film with an NC-17 rating: He made the vampires' blood green. Apparently, buckets of gore are okay as long as they're not red.

9. The film reportedly cost between $15 and $20 million to make. It earned back just $25.8 million in American theaters.
10. Clooney won the MTV Movie Award that year for Best Breakthrough Performance. Tarantino, however, was nominated for a Razzie for Worst Supporting Actor. He lost to Marlon Brando, for his flamboyant turn in "The Island of Dr. Moreau."
categories Movies, Horror, Trivia