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Leave it to Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino to hatch one of the most clever ideas to come out of Hollywood in quite some time - an homage to the glory days of cinema...the 1970's, when films like "Women In Cages" and "Don't Look In the Basement" were taboo and only suitable for showcasing at theatres known as 'grindhouses'. You wouldn't find "The Godfather" playing there and you wouldn't find "Marathon Man" - but you might find "Cannibal Holocaust". But, not only did Rodriguez & Tarantino decide to pay tribute to a style of filmmaking that has been one of their biggest inspirations, they decided to turn it into a three hour epic of monumental proportions. It's a film that fanboys all over the world have been eagerly anticipating since it was first announced and it has started looking cooler and cooler with each new trailer...each new tease. In fact, this film is the #1 must-see film on my 2007 roster. "Grindhouse", that is. So, earlier today, when I sat my ass down for the glory of cheesy B-cinema, I felt just like a kid again; a seedy little bastard.
The first thing that comes our way is a trailer for the film "Machete", directed by Robert Rodriguez. Danny Trejo stars as the title character, a federale who kills for money and will stop at nothing for revenge. When an evil villain, played by Jeff Fahey, sets Machete up, that's when the killing begins, with the help of Cheech Marin as a gun-toting padre. Tagline: "They fucked with the wrong Mexican!" Evidently, Rodriguez wrote an entire script for "Machete" after the success of "Desperado" as a vehicle for Danny Trejo, but was unable to find enough funding. One might wonder if we might see a "Machete" feature one day? Who knows. Anyways, this was a hilarious and pulse-pounding way to kick off the three hours of entertainment, and Rodriguez certainly knows how to turn ordinary action set-ups into truly extraordinary adventure.
The first feature - "Planet Terror" - directed by Robert Rodriguez. The film opens with some very seedy gentlemen (including Naveen Andrews) doing business with some very corrupt soldiers, led by Muldoon (Bruce Willis). After an 'explosive' situation, a toxic gas is leaked into the air that transforms those that inhale it into brain hungry zombies. Rose McGowan stars as Cherry Darling, a go-go dancer injured in an attack. She joins forces with El Wray (Freddy Rodriguez), an ultimate badass whom the local sheriff (Michael Biehn) won't allow to carry a gun. Alongside Jeff Fahey, Marley Shelton, Tom Savini, Michael Parks and The Crazy Babysitter Twins - they all join together to fight the zombie horde and try to put a stop to the carnage before they take over the world. So, what we have here - essentially - is a zombie film, Rodriguez style. We have traditional zombie movie elements, but then we have some of the absurd violence and action that makes Rodriguez such an entertaining director. We have Cherry Darling using her 'leg o' death' to take out half of the zombie army; we have a puss-ridden Quentin Tarantino portraying a rapist; we have a military general claiming to have killed Osama Bin Laden; oh, and a man who collects testicles. Rodriguez never lets up the action and keeps the pace at a frantic pace, turning "Planet Terror" into a roller coaster ride that offers more blood, guts, sex and carnage that you're probably accustomed to seeing. And, he's cast it brilliantly. Standouts include Rose McGowan, who is now officially a true sex symbol; Naveen Andrews as the revolting Abby; and Jeff Fahey as a barbecue loving redneck.
Between features we are given the pleasure of three trailers, written and directed especially for the experience that is "Grindhouse". The first - "Werewolf Women of the S.S." - is directed by Rob Zombie and stars his regulars (Sherri Moon Zombie, Bill Moseley) as well as Udo Kier and a cameo by Nicolas Cage as Fu Manchu, screaming, "This is my Mecca!" Zombie's trailer certainly has the most mainstream appeal to it, and most of the enjoyment comes from the zany humor. Here, Zombie shows us he can do funny as well as fucked up. Next we have a film with a title I will not reveal, for it will spoil the experience. I can say it was directed by Edgar Wright and stars his "Shawn of the Dead" friends in a trailer that spoofs old British thrillers. This was probably my favorite of all the trailers because it's so fast, fun and ridiculous. Finally, we have the Eli Roth directed "Thanksgiving" trailer which turns Turkey Day into a slaughterhouse, via "Halloween". We have various teenagers killed in numerous ways, and the style of the trailer is very authentic to what you might recall from the late-1970's and early-1980's slasher movie trailers. As mentioned previously, I think Edgar Wright's trailer was most entertaining, though Rob Zombie's certainly looked like the most fun feature length picture. That said, they were all enjoyable.
The second feature - "Death Proof" - directed by Quentin Tarantino. With a title like that, what's not to love? The film starts out with a group of friends getting together to drink, meet guys, and prepare for a weekend at a friend's lake house. Soon, however, they run into Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell), who drives a badass ride, eats like a pig, and claims to have served as a stuntman to people like Robert Urich. Halfway through the film, Stuntman Mike reveals he's not necessarily the type of guy you want to give you a ride home. Then we're introduced to four more friends - Rosario Dawson, Tracie Thoms, Zoe Bell and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Two are stuntpeople and the other two are actresses. They also come into unexpected contact with Stuntman Mike, but the outcome is not quite the same. Tarantino obviously knowns more about the 'grindhouse' experience than Rodriguez, and Tarantino's film has the cheesy 1970's feel down to an art, while still maintaining Tarantino's knack for dialogue and his keen eye for filming the horrific. The first twenty minutes we see Stuntman Mike, Tarantino gives Kurt Russell some of the best lines and the best set-ups an actor could hope for, and Russell delivers each and every time. Tarantino also takes the film down an unexpected road at the end, surprising most of the people in the audience, but keeping absolutely true to the experience. Also notice the selection of music. Tarantino always goes to painstaking lengths to place the absolutely perfect songs in his films and "Death Proof" is not exception. We hear songs here that we haven't thought of in years...or ever...but we feel like we've heard them a thousand times before. Tarantino's execution here is flawless. What else would you expect?
In their attempts to create a full three hour immersion into the whole 'grindhouse' experience, Rodriguez & Tarantino succeeded with flying colors. For three hours plus, I was able to pretend I was somewhere else entirely. I wish it had been a real 'grindhouse' - people having sex in the back, passed out from too much bourbon, shooting up in the corner. That's an experience. On the whole, I think I enjoyed "Death Proof" the best because I love how Tarantino still managed to inject an engaging story into the cheese and the violence. Plus, Kurt Russell is outstanding. I can't imagine anyone else playing that role. "Planet Terror" was great, as well, but just seemed to be a case of Rodriguez fitting a two and a half hour movie into an hour and a half. I wonder how much stuff he still had to cut out. I have heard some critics suggest that "Planet Terror" and "Death Proof" should have been reversed, with "Death Proof" screening first. I totally disagree. I think they started out with a riotous bang and ended with a badass, super charged ending. I would not have changed a single thing about the structure of this film. It was conceived and structured perfectly. So, what I'm going to do now is rate each individual trailer and film, and then the film as a whole. And away we go: "Machete" - 10/10; "Planet Terror" - 9/10; "Werewolf Women of the S.S." - 9/10; "Untitled Edgar Wright Trailer" - 10/10; "Thanksgiving" - 8/10; "Death Proof" - 10/10. There shouldn't be any wonder what I'm going to give this film. It's the most entertaining film of the year.
- added 04/07/2007, 05:37 PM
I loved this film, the fake trailors, everything.
Your review was right on the mark bluemeanie.
This is definately something to watch. In a
theater, it's awesome. If I were you, I'd watch
it as soon as I could. You will not be
dissapointed, I promise.
- added 04/07/2007, 11:24 PM
Absolutely the most fun I've had at the movies
ina ages. It's exactally what I'd hoped for and
then some... it's hard to give either one of the
films alot of talking without ruining them for
people who've yet to see it... but... wow... this
is a buyer. 9.7/10
grain of sand
- added 04/08/2007, 02:44 AM
I loved this movie, best theatre experience I've
had in awhile.
even though I'm not a huge
fan of his work, I loved eli roths fake trailer
the most, the over the top sexual violence had me
I might go see it again
- added 04/12/2007, 12:42 AM
Planet Terror was absolutely amazing. People were
laughing, cheering, clapping, everything. -
Death Proof on the other hand was
boring, unfunny, and nothing but 4 women cursing
for an hour and a half. Kurt Russell didn't get
nearly enough screen time. What was the point of
making a maniac killer, if he has 5 minutes of
screen time, and only actually killed 4 people.
Only redeeming quality, one of the coolest car
crashes I've seen in a long time. - 5/10
of the fake trailers were gold, especially
Thanksgiving. That would make for a fantastic
Overall I give the whole thing 9/10,
because it was the most fun I've had at a movie in
a very long time.
- added 04/12/2007, 06:37 PM
I actually loved the "Machete" trailer the most,
but I agree with you whole-heartidly eonblue27...
but, Stuntman Mike killed 5 people. Yeah... I had
much higher hopes for "Death Proof"... "Planet
Terror" 9.5/10 "Death Proof" 6.1/10
- added 04/12/2007, 06:50 PM
You know -- I'm hearing a lot of people complain
about "Death Proof" and how it wasn't what they
expected. Knowing that the film was called
"Grindhouse" and having seen many Grindhouse-era
films myself, I knew exactly what I was getting
into -- and "Death Proof" was by far the most
authentic of the two. I loved "Planet Terror",
but it was nothing close to what a Grindhouse film
was like -- it was just a campy zombie spoof.
"Death Proof" was a road movie and a chick flick
all rolled into one. And it was just what a
Tarantino film typically is. Were people actually
expecting a non-Tarantino Tarantino film? Most of
the complaints I hear about "Death Proof" seem to
indicate that most people weren't expecting
Tarantino to do what he does best. Just a
- added 04/12/2007, 07:10 PM
I've seen my fair share of grind house films.
Black exploitation, zombie films, cannibal films,
the splatter horrors, etc. So it's safe to say, I
knew the score. Now, I also know what Tarantino is
best known for. It's for his dialogue, and how he
makes violent, gruesome things seem funny, and
completely natural. So knowing these things, I
wasn't expecting Reservoir Dogs 2, and I wasn't
expecting an authentic grindhouse film, because
in this day and age, that's essentially
impossible. But Death Proof, didn't feel, AT ALL,
like a Grindhouse film. I'll praise him for his
sequences with very nice dialogue, and I'll accept
that he had the driving/chick flick down pat, but
if you were to actually take this movie apart, I'm
sure you'd see about 10 minutes of Kurt Russell,
10 minutes of car crashes/chases, and 75 minutes
of two different groups of 4 girls talking about
the most useless shit that I've ever heard. I know
you're a critic, and have to look at this from a
different angle, but can you honestly say you
found all the scenes with the girls enjoyable, and
that Tarantino didn't need to cut some down? I
think he could have cut basically everything they
said out, and it would have been the same movie. I
didn't identify with them, I didn't feel sorry for
them, I didn't feel happy when the movie ended. I
ended up hating all of them for being so annoying,
and I was praying Kurt Russell would kill all of
- added 04/12/2007, 07:20 PM
I'm just going to post another comment, so we
don't see a massive one on the homepage. And as an
after thought, did you not feel Kurt Russell was
completely wasted, with almost no screen time? The
dumb guy from the Adam Sandler movies almost had
more screen time.
- added 04/12/2007, 07:26 PM
See -- I just had the totally opposite
impression. "Death Proof" felt exactly like a
Grindhouse flick to me. The style, the tone --
everything. I did not think that the dialogue
between the girls was wasted and I don't think it
was designed to evoke sympathy from the audience.
I think it was designed to unsettle the audience,
lull them into a false sense of security. And, it
worked. The person I saw the film with was more
than shocked when the film suddenly turned, even
though he had already seen as much from the
trailer. The first Act of "Death Proof" was 1/2
exposition and 1/2 bad ass Kurt Russell. The
second Act of "Death Proof" was 1/2 exposition and
1/2 bad ass Kurt Russell, though it ends with Kurt
Russell not being so bad ass. And I did not think
Kurt Russell was wasted. I think this was one of
the most interesting characters he's played in a
while. I love the fact that they took this man's
man like Kurt Russell -- this real tough guy
famous for those kinds of roles -- and turned him
into a sniveling and worthless simp at the end.
Once I realized how much of a wimp this guy was, I
was routing for the girls -- and I think that's
what Tarantino was going for. And I think he did
it in classic Grindhouse style -- just like the
road flicks and the chick flicks I remember
seeing. I think it's great that the "Women In
Cages" trailer played during "Planet Terror"
because that is a film very similiar in tone and
style to "Death Proof". It's just a difference of
opinion. I thought Tarantino did what he does
- added 04/13/2007, 12:57 AM
I don't mean Kurt Russell was wasted as in, this
is not his kind of thing. I mean it's totally his
thing, and he was brilliant in the role. I just
mean that they wasted his talents by giving him no
screen time. That's my major beef. And you know a
whole lot more about movies than I do. I'll just
bow down from an argument I lost 2 posts ago.
- added 05/06/2007, 07:39 PM
My biig problem with "Death Proof" (having been
force-fed Grindhouse films since I was 6) was that
it was to much Tarantino style. Tarantino likes
Grindhouse films, however he has never made them.
He stylizes violence, he abuses dialouge (in a
good way) and he likes to go from boring to
fast-paced in the blink of an eye. Most grindhouse
films never do that. Grindhouse is about cheese.
Campy, enjoyable and grueling cheese. He made his
classic "art-school" like vision only with
grindhouse genres. I own more grindhouse films
than I can count, but to merge 3 genres in such a
modest way... ehh... to make a long story short
this wasn't a car-chase/women's revenge/ slasher
film like I was promised. It was a car-chase film
with some gore, too much talking and a twist
This was a Tarantino flm at heart,
not a grindhouse film. He broke alot of grindhouse
rules with "Death Proof", however "Planet Terror"
followed all the rules and became a big-budget
b-movie. If only the whole world could see how
much fun grindhouse cenima is... such a shame.
- added 08/20/2007, 02:45 AM
this is a few months old but im totally with
tristan on this one. i absolutely abhorred death
proof both times i saw it. the first act was
thoroughly enjoyable, other than the awful
dialogue between the girls. the second act was
just atrocious as each of the four girls made me
want to punch them in the face. also, yeah, i was
seriously looking forward to kurt russell getting
a lot of time to be totally menacing and creepy,
which was great while it lasted... but it just
made me even more mad to see him hardly get any
screen time. there are few movies that have made
me completely angry during a viewing, and i was
furious walking out of the theatre after death
on a side note: i don't give a
shit which one is more authentic as a "grind
house" movie. i don't fucking care. if that's what
a grind house movie "should" be like, then fuck
them, it wasn't entertaining at all. being
authentic doesn't necessarily mean it's any good.
that's like saying it's not an authentic punk
record if there's no double-time drumming. but
- added 11/21/2007, 05:59 PM
I was highly expecting to prefer Planet Terror to
Death Proof, but I was really surprised. If they
use the trailers here for another double feature I
hope they use Machete and Thanksgiving.