Salma Hayek’s performance in the 1996 action horror film From Dusk till Dawn left perplexed more than one. The movie, directed by Robert Rodriguez and starred by George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Juliette Lewis, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, and many more, served as a platform to the then 29 years old actress. Hayek’s erotic snake dance was the scene that 24 years ago catapult her career and turned her into one of the sexiest Latinas in the industry.
For four minutes, the Mexican superstar controlled her phobia of snakes and danced to the rhythm of “After dark,” a song from the Californian band Tito y Tarántula, with a yellow python curled up. “Quentin told me, ‘oh, by the way, you’re dancing with a snake,’ and I said, ‘I can’t, I can’t. It’s my greatest fear,’ and he said, ‘Well, Madonna will do it. I already talked to her, and she’s willing to dance with the snake,” Hayek said in an interview for Yahoo. “It was good because I had to overcome my greatest fear; I had to go on trance to do that. And it was improvised. The dance is improvised. There was no choreographer nothing.”
To prepare for the role of “Satanic Pandemonium,” Hayek undergoes eight weeks of hypnotherapy — a treatment with guided relaxation and intense concentration that helps patients to explore painful thoughts, feelings, and memories from their conscious minds. After nailing her performance, the actress described the experience as “a ritual of spiritual communion between me and the snake.”
As reported by Pledge Times, according to journalist Rita Abundancia, Quentin Tarantino may have found inspiration in films like Snake Dancer, the Mexican Living death, and Blade Runner. “Quentin Tarantino is not a guy interested in manual eroticism. He’s really interested in what turns him on, even if it’s crappy,” she said. “The snake is a very phallic element. Furthermore, they choose a flesh-colored one, which is rubbed over its body, stimulating our collective erotic unconscious.”
“Salma is elevated above her viewers and goes through several high moments reminiscent of a sexual relationship. The earth is Salma’s body, the water is present in the tequila that she throws, and it even reminds of ejaculation, the fire is part of the decoration, the air is represented by the movements that she makes with her hair, and ether is that atmosphere so loaded and so stale of the cheap brothel where you cannot breathe,” explains Abundancia referring to all the elements of the scene.
However, Juan Manuel Corral revealed that Robert Rodríguez wrote the scene. “Rodríguez wanted to iron out his friend’s film affiliations,“ he said as per the publication. “The initial script, written by Tarantino in its entirety, relied mostly on a conventional vampire story, and the Mexican decided to include a lot of homegrown material.”
Tarantino is known for his foot fetish, and according to Corral, “before this film, Tarantino was very rough in relation to the figure of women. Then he has included sequences that drink from Luis Buñuel, especially in what refers to that fetishism linked to women’s feet. Finally, Tarantino repeated a sub-plot of Japanese erotic cinema called Pinky Violence,“ he added.
For many writers and directors, each song selected for their movies has to be the perfect complement to the scene; however, in this case, experts don’t think the song is a strong point. “The song of Tito & Tarántula has everything to be the perfect musical accompaniment for the scene,“ said musical specialist Xavi Sancho. ”It is about vampires. [But] the scene doesn’t reach perfection because the song, really, is not very good.”
Whether it was the perfect song or not, Salma Hayek’s sole presence was enough to catch everyone’s attention.