Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino (2007)
Kill Bill director Quentin Tarantino and Sin City director Robert Rodriguez join forces to offer a cinematic tribute to the blood-soaked exploitation epics of yesteryear with this hyper-violent coupling of two full-length features punctuated by a collection of outrageous trailers. Its tantalizing title borrowed from the term frequently used to describe the seedy, 1970s-era inner-city movie theaters that screened excessive, low-budget independent films containing copious amounts of violence and nudity as a means of offering counter-programming to the decidedly more restrained big-budget studio films, Grindhouse takes its love for these unabashedly sleazy efforts one step further by offering a jaw-dropping collection of fake exploitation trailers from such directors as Rob Zombie, Eli Roth, and Edgar Wright.
The first feature, directed by Rodreguez, Planet Terror (my personal favorite of the two), details the violent struggle between a hungry army of zombies who have taken control of the planet and the remaining survivors who refuse to go down without a fight. The cast in this mini-movie is phenomenal ranging from Rose McGowan to Bruce Willis. How can I describe how much I love this movie! It’s a juiced-up, late-night gore-fest from minute one. The opening is terrific – the tale’s kick-ass heroine, Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan), is introduced dancing around the stage of a go-go club, while bouncing around to a raunchy sax. Next, we meet a slew of other unique characters; Doctor Doc, the sexy nurse, the local sheriff, and the manager of the local BBQ pit. Kind of sounds like stock characters from a late-night TV movie, well, that’s really the point. How do I put this, in a nutshell Planet Terror is simply over-the-top, bloody, disgusting, and outrageous retro silliness. So behold, a man who collects his enemies’ testicles, a squadron of mutated Marines, and the crowing glory, a girl with a machine-gun for a leg. By now, we’ve all been exposed to this image unless you live under a rock.
As Grindhouse films were often purchased by theaters cheaply, they had already played countless times, so were often severely scratched or burnt and even had frames or even entire scenes missing. Rodreguez has digitally created this sense of wear and tear by adding scratch lines and a general graininess to the look of the film. This also includes the soundtrack, which is scratchy with the slight sound of a projector running in the background.
So what we finally get is a wild horror-comedy that starts focused but gets increasingly chaotic throughout the scenes. There are great scenes like Dakota struggling to open a car door with anesthetized hands – and there are terrible scenes – Tarantino cameos as a pervy soldier who likes talking about Ava Gardner, as only a pervy soldier played by Tarantino would. The best scene however is when Cherry uses her gun-limb to blast way into the air, before arching into a go-go position and mowing down the undead. Classic!
In Death Proof — director Tarantino’s take on such peddle-to-the-metal shockers as White Line Fever — Kurt Russell stars as an engine-revving psychopath who prefers to take out his beautiful victims at 200 mph. With a list of potential roadkill candidates that includes Rose McGowan, Jordan Ladd, Rosario Dawson, and Vanessa Ferlito, Death Proof takes viewers on an adrenaline-infused drive that’s as sexy as it is shocking.
Take a dose of reality and shove it straight up your rear. Death Proof is the second feature film in the Grindhouse production. Kurt Russell stars as a deranged stunt driver named Stuntman Mike. He searches the countryside looking for young ladies to kill in ingenious ways with his “death proof” car. The film is split into two stories that have no relation with one another. The first portion follows a group of girls all day until finally they just so happen to wind up at the same bar together. Rose McGowan plays a lead role in this one as well and what happens to this poor girl is well, I’ve never seen anything like it. Eventually as Stuntman Mike and the group of girls are leaving the bar for the evening, it’s time for this psycho to begin his fun. I’m not going to get into who dies and who lives, but believe me, people do die and you get to see it in all its extremely graphic glory.
The second portion of Death Proof is great. We follow another group of girls all day and get to hear about all of their fun, pointless dialogue in true Tarantino fashion. The girls find their way into an old vintage muscle car to do “some really stupid shit.” Stuntman Mike has them in his sites and this is probably ranked in the top 5 BEST movie car chases ever… and that’s a bold statement! In the end, Stuntman Mike finally get’s what he had coming to him. Kurt Russell was fantastic as this character and the way he shifted emotions, trying to manipulate everyone around him was so clever. You almost start to feel sorry for the guy. Death Proof really had one of the best closing shots I can remember and the girls are just kick-ass cool.
The fake previews at the beginning of Grindhouse also deserve mention. They were very realistic and kept with the theme of the upcoming mini-movies perfectly. This is one of the most exciting movie experiences I’ve had and should be watched on a big screen for full affect. You’ll be sorry if you only catch Grindhouse on DVD. So my fellow horror lovers, whether you’re being chased on foot by zombie humanoids or by car from psychotic maniacs, buckle your seat-belt because it’s gonna be one helluva ride. Prepare to be entertained!