• From Dusk Till Dawn Season Three

    Released by: Entertainment One
    Released on: February 7th, 2017.
    Director: Variuos
    Cast: Brandon Soo Hoo, Wilmer Valderrama, Robert Patrick, D.J. Cotrona, Eiza González, Zane Holtz
    Year: 2016
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Season three of El Ray Network’s From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series continues to detail the exploits of Seth (D.J. Cotrona) and Richie (Zane Holtz), better known as The Gecko Brothers. Anyone familiar with the franchise, be it by way of the movie series or the first two seasons of the TV show, know that these guys are basically outlaw vampire hunters, but before they did that, they were criminals who crossed into Mexico to save their own lives. For now, however, they barrel through the southwest, Texas and Mexico mostly, and do battle with the vampire-snake hybrids known as The Culebras. Said beasts have a literal criminal underworld operation going throughout the area.

    The Gecko’s have a kinda-sorta ally in the form of foxy vampiress Santánico Pandemonium (Eiza González). She’s got her own axe to grind against The Culebras. When this third series begins, The Culebras are facing friction from all sides and war basically breaks out. The Titty Twister lies in ruins, the Gecko’s are being played by Lord Venganza Verdugo and Santánico is missing. Demons are popping up left, right and center vying for power and control.

    The Geckos, being the Geckos after all, are of course caught in the middle. They put together a rag-tag team of miscreants and ne’er-do-wells to help try and set things right. Their pal Kate Fuller (Madison Davenport) busts out of the mental institution she was locked away in and joins the fight, identifying herself as a demon named Amaru, while Tanner/Sex Machine (Jake Busey) takes a teaching position at a Texas university. Flesh eating locusts wreak havoc across South Texas, while a woman named Dakota hopes to avenge the death of her father, Earl McGraw. Before it’s all over, we’ll figure out what happened to Kate when she was locked away, Carlos Madrigal (Wilmer Valderrama) will form an uneasy alliance with Santánico, Amaru will bring The Geckos to a strange ghost town on unknown significance and a whole lot of people and vampires alike are going to wind up dead.

    The first season of the series basically retold the story that was told in the first film and while the second season saw the writers taking things into their own unique direction, it felt slow and plodding. Season three, however, is where it all starts to click. Here the series hits that right balance between action and horror, humor and drama. It’s sexy, bloody, funny and wickedly entertaining and the evolution of a few of the characters from minor supporting roles to larger, more prominent roles definitely helps a lot with all of this. Who wouldn’t want to see more Wilmer Valderrama (yep – Fez from That ‘70’s Show) and Jake Busey in the series? It's also fun to see Tom Savini pop up here.

    The series also benefits by focusing less one Santánico and more on Kate. Santánico is great and everything, and certainly a whole lot of fun to look at, but seeing Madison Davenport bring Kate over to the dark side is a lot of fun –her performance here is really strong and she’s excellent in the part. In fact, she pretty much steals every scene that she’s in, and it would seem that the producers and the writers realized this, because she gets a lot more screen time in these ten episodes than you might expect. It’s also great to see her square off with The Gecko Brothers towards the end of the season, the series builds up to this nicely and the writing does a good job of tying in some of the threads from previous storylines so that all of this makes sense when it happens the way that it happens.

    The third season of From Dusk Till Dawn arrives on Blu-ray in a three disc set featuring AVC encoded 1080p high definition widescreen in 1.78.1 transfers, just as it was shown on TV when originally broadcast. There’s not much to complain about here at all, the episodes all look great in high definition. Some very mild aliasing can be spotted here and there but otherwise the image is strong, nicely detailed and quite colorful. Explosions look great and don’t break up into compression artifacts while black levels stay solid throughout without smearing or destroying shadow detail. Skin tones, of which a lot are on display, look lifelike and there’s plenty of texture to ogle and detail to appreciate both in the foreground and the background of pretty much every shot.

    The primary audio option on this set is an English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix. And that track? It’s a doozy. The show features plenty of shoot outs and explosions and so we get a lot of rear channel and surround activity throughout the series. The low end offers up some nice rumble to anchor gunshots and explosions without burying the performers while the dialogue stays clean, clear and always discernible. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion anywhere in the mix and the score has some nice resonance to it and is spread out nicely to add some dramatic flair here and there. Some of the quieter moments offer up some nice subtle background details here and there but where the mix is at its best is during the more intense moments of the series – this is good stuff. Optional Englsih closed captioning is provided.

    Audio commentary tracks are provided for a few episode one (with executive producers Diego Gutierrez and Carolos Colo), nine (with director Joe Menendez, Carlos Coto and actor Brandon Soo Hoo) and ten (with Menendez, Colo and Hoo). These are fairly interesting talks that focus a lot on the evolution of the storyline and the characters but that also give us info on the cast, the crew, the locations, the effects work and quite a bit more.

    We also get a Season 3 Catch Up section that contains quick recaps for The Gecko Brothers, The Fullers and Freddie Gonzalez. More interesting are the featurettes, starting with Carlos Madrigal Returns which gives us a look at how and why Madigan returned to the series in the way that he did. Also on hand is The Evolution of Kate Fuller, which as you’d probably have guessed from the title, takes a look at how that specific character has changed over time. Those into the creature effects side of things will appreciate both the Monsters of Xibalba: Itzpa (Llorona) piece and the Monsters of Xibalba: Xibalba 101 piece, as they go fairy in-depth into how and why those monsters are what they are.

    Sony has also included some shorter Inside The Episodes for The Monsters of Xibalba: Cipactli, The Monsters of Xibalba: Skull Keeper and The Monsters of Xibalba: Olmeca. These segments are basically episode specific looks at some of the more memorable moments, how they were handled and who did what to make it happen. We also get a quick piece covering Busey’s character in When Sex Machines Collide and a nice behind the scenes/fight choreography segment called Evolution of a Fight Scene.

    Rounding out the extras in the set is a piece called Season 3 New Characters that really just sort of recaps the new characters introduced this go round, a selection of trailers, a highlight reel of the season’s best kills, a few deleted scenes, animated menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    From Dusk Till Dawn Season Three is solid TV entertainment. The series has come into its own and done a fine job of expanding on the mythos setup by the original film and taking things in some interesting directions. A fun cast, clever writing and some impressive moments of action, humor and horror keep this fun to watch and Sony’s Blu-ray release is not only pretty stacked with extras, but it looks and sounds great too.

    Click on the image below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!