Full-Tilt Boogie (1997)
By: Paul Ryan on November 14, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Roadshow (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 4:3. English DD 2.0 Stereo. English (FHI) Subtitles. 95 minutes
The Movie
Directed by: Sarah Kelly
Cast: Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, George Clooney
Screenplay: Sarah Kelly Music: Cary Berger, Dominic Kelly.
Country: USA
Full-Tilt Boogie documents the production of Robert Rodriguez's 1996 genre-straddling road movie/horror opus From Dusk Till Dawn. Sarah Kelly (a production assistant on the likes of Pulp Fiction and Killing Zoe) explores the production of the film in impressive detail, from the project's announcement at the 1995 Fangoria Convention and culminating with the last day of shooting, several months later.

Beyond the expected interviews with the likes of George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Juliette Lewis, Kelly introduces to us to people from practically every area of the production. We meet extras, publicists, assistant directors (including Douglas Aarnikowski, who subsequently directed Highlander: Endgame), grips, caterers, makeup artists (spotlighting gore legends Gregory Nicotero and Howard Berger), hairdressers, drivers… Pretty much everyone in fact. Many of these people have interesting, insightful and occasionally hilarious things to say about the ins and outs of the shoot.

Expectedly, there are problems along the way, such as a massive dust storm that hampers shooting, and a damaged set as a result of a misfired pyrotechnic explosion, but seeing how these mishaps are handled is quite interesting. What is especially compelling however, is the films exploration of the labour dispute that erupts during filming. From Dusk Till Dawn was a non-union shoot, which is something of an oddity for production over ten-million. This incurs the ire of the powerful IATSE union, who threaten work bans and pickets. As the drama plays out, we get a number of explanations from the avowedly anti-union Tarantino, and producers Lawrence Bender and Elizabeth Avellan (Rodriguez's now-estranged wife). Kelly's crew (who are non-union themselves) then set out, Michael Moore-style, to grab an interview with IATSE's chairman Lyle Trachtenberg, which doesn't prove easy. Though it's clear whose side Kelly is on, the debate is still compelling and challenging, regardless of your politics on unionism.

On the lighter side of things, we get to see the crew unwind (though the sight of Juliette Lewis singing karaoke is not for the weak of stomach) and chat about backstage romances. Tarantino is his usual motor-mouthed self, and Clooney pulls pranks and makes the ladies swoon. There's also the surreal moment where a spectacularly self-absorbed Fred Williamson talks up his production company (and its cheesy films that no one has heard of) through a faceful of vampire makeup. That alone is worth the price of admission...
Like many of Roadshow's budget DVDs, Full-Tilt Boogie comes in a 4x3 pan and scan presentation. This niggle aside, the transfer is very good, juggling various picture sources quite well and providing solid detail and clarity.
Dolby 2.0 surround is what you get here and it does the job just fine, especially where music is involved.
Extra Features
Bupkiss bitches. That said, if you highlight and click on the Roadshow logo on the menu page, you get a brief promo for the DVD authoring studio that produced this disc. Can you feel my excitement? Please don't answer that…
The Verdict
While not suffused with as much real-life drama as say, Hearts of Darkness: a Filmmakers Apocalypse, or Lost in La Mancha, Full-Tilt Boogie is nonetheless a fascinating, endlessly compelling look at the nitty-gritty of contemporary movie-making. Given that it was left off Buena Vista's Region 4 special edition of From Dusk Till Dawn (presumably due to rights issues with Roadshow), its an essential – and at less than ten bucks, cheap - purchase for any serious fan of Tarantino or Rodriguez.
Movie Score
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