Chase Movie, Horror, Slasher Film, Thriller
Austin's hottest DJ, Jungle Julia, sets out into the night to unwind with her two friends Shanna and Arlene. Covertly tracking their moves is Stuntman Mike, a scarred rebel leering from behind the wheel of his muscle car, revving just feet away.
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When "Grindhouse" was released, there were two camps: those who thought Robert Rodriguez' "Planet Terror" was the best film and those who thought Quentin Tarantino's "Death Proof" was the best film. There might have even been some people who thought the trailers were the best part of the film. A lot of people I know have said they thought the films should have been reversed, with Tarantino's film opening "Grindhouse" and Rodriguez and his film closing "Grindhouse". I thought the whole "Grindhouse" experience was perfect, as was, and I belong in the camp that thought "Death Proof" was, hands down, the best film of the experience. Now, "Death Proof" has been released on DVD as a singular film, featuring lots of extended and additional scenes.
In truth, you'll find about 25 minutes off additional footage here, beefed up from the ninety minute version we all saw in "Grindhouse". Watching the film back when it was originally released, you just knew there was some stuff that Tarantino had to leave on the cutting room floor, but it turns out he didn't leave as much out as one might have thought. The 25 minutes of extended and additional footage doesn't really convey a whole lot that isn't already conveyed in the film, but it does give us more Stuntman Mike, and that can never be a bad thing. The extra footage even gives us a little more insight into the character of Stuntman Mike -- stuff that probably had to be left out of the whole "Grindhouse" experience because they didn't want a four hour film experience.
The film opens with a group of friends (Sydney Poitier, Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd) heading to the local bar to unwind and celebrate a weekend of friends and fun. Jungle Julia (Sydney Poitier) is a popular local DJ who also has a rather inflated view of herself. Arlene (Vanessa Ferlito) is her best friend who has been subjected to a lame radio contest where she is required to give men lap dances if they say the right words. Through a chunk of dialog and conversation, we get to know the girls, their boyfriends and the patrons of the bar. We are also very quickly introduced to Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell), who seems to have walked out of 1971. He drives a solid black mean machine with a skull and crossbones on the hood and he has an enormous scar running down the side of his face. Stuntman Mike offers to give a local girl (Rose McGowan) a ride home for the night, which turns into the last ride of her life. He then sets his sights on the group of friends.
That sounds like a whole movie in itself, but it's not? After a long diatribe from Texas Ranger Earl McGraw (Michael Parks) about how Stuntman Mike is a killer and has an obsession with torturing women, we meet yet another group of girls (Rosario Dawson, Tracie Thoms, Zoe Bell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Zoe Bell, a stunt girl who plays herself and Tracie Thoms, a fellow danger enthusiast are as wild as they come, while Winstead's character is the more reserved. Soon, they find themselves being stalked by Stuntman Mike, which leads to a run-in on an isolated dirt road and one of the most amazing extended stunt sequences you are likely to ever see, with Zoe Bell obviously putting her life in some kind of danger. Eventually, the girls turn the tables on Stuntman Mike, which leads to one of the most incredible and satisfying endings of recent memory.
This is the "Death Proof" that would have hit theatres if the "Grindhouse" experience never happened. This is the film Quentin Tarantino wanted to put out there, but had to trim down for obvious reasons. And, unlike "Planet Terror" -- "Death Proof" can easily stand on its own as a true grindhouse picture. Kurt Russell is the ultimate bad ass turned ultimate pansy as Stuntman Mike, a character so brilliantly crafted. His scenes in the bar early on in the film are classic and Russell delivers his dialog with a John Wayne swagger that he has been using since "Big Trouble In Little China". He was born for this role. The girls are also equal to task, with the real standouts being Tracie Thoms and Rosario Dawson. Michael Parks was humorous in his role as the sheriff character who explains it all so the audience will understand what they're dealing with, and I thought Quentin Tarantino was less annoying than usual as the bartender and owner of the establishment.
Like I said, the extended sequences are just that -- extended sequences of what we've already seen in the film. The additional sequences primarily involve Stuntman Mike. We get a very unusual scene involving Mike and Rosario Dawson's foot -- and an added scene between Arlene and her boyfriend. Normally, I don't like it when a film is released with the extended cuts from the director, but I thought "Death Proof" did nothing but benefit from it. It feels like a whole film now and it can stand on its own. "Death Proof" is continued proof that Tarantino is just a bad ass, plain and simple. Watching him direct the scenes with the girls dancing to the kind of music that only he would choose is just wonderful. I loved watching the attention to the detail of the film, and I loved the gimmicks like the missing reel and the film pops and the film static. They all blend together to make "Death Proof" the ultimate homage to the grindhouse experience.
This film is highly recommended and it might even make my end of the year list by itself, instead of as the entire "Grindhouse" package. The DVD also features some nice bonus stuff, including a very interesting section on Tarantino's friend and collaborator, Sally Menke. As always, no Tarantino commentary, which we've all come to expect. "Death Proof" rocks even more now than it did before.
- added 09/22/2007, 10:27 AM
meanie can i honetly say i love u for giving my
favorite grindhouse movie 10/10 lol can't wait to
get it today
- added 09/24/2007, 01:16 PM
It was my pleasure to do so, sir.
- added 10/14/2007, 01:02 AM
I haven't seen the Grindhouse cut of this, but
the standalone film was insanely awesome. 10/10,
- added 10/26/2007, 09:48 PM
You're my hero for giving this a 10/10. I
absolutely adored Death Proof. A lot of people I
know seemed to not like Death Proof and said it
was boring. I loved every second of it. The
dialogue's typical Tarantino. And you can't talk
about this movie without talking about Kurt
Russell and/or Stuntman Mike. He was absolutely
amazing, and has got to be one of my all time
favorite roles for the guy (even more so than
MacReady, and The Thing is one of my top 5
favorite movies). The change in character was
absolutely brilliant, and as you said, it leads to
one of the most memorable endings of recent
memory. I was in tears because I was laughing my
ass off during the whole end of the movie. This
movie is fucking golden.
- added 10/26/2007, 09:49 PM
Oh, and the soundtrack for this film is downright
- added 10/26/2007, 09:52 PM
Indeed in regards to the soundtrack - just picked
up my copy of it tonight and I'm loving it.
- added 11/02/2007, 11:50 AM
I saw this last night and I'm sorry but I have to
utterly disagree. Almost the entire film was a
conversation, and a boring one at that. Most of
the dialogue was so mundane me and my friends have
better things to discuss; the discussions were so
ridiculously commonplace it was upsetting to
watch. 15 minutes in a car talking about weed and
boys? Really? Another 15 minutes talking about
whether or not they want to take the car out?
Come on, Tarantino was trying very, very hard to
be artsy with his overt use of talking. By the
first half of the film I wanted those girls to
die, just to have something happen in a freakin
GRINDHOUSE movie. Not to mention, what the hell
happened to Elizabeth Winstead's character? Do we
just assume her and Jasper have hot cocoa and talk
about life? Nah, this one, I am sorry to say, was
trying too hard to do too little. Aside from the
deaths and suspense on the car chase, this one was
a snoozefest. 2/10.
- added 11/02/2007, 12:57 PM
Interesting, yet incorrect assessment of
Tarantino's style here. I can appreciate you
thought the film was boring. I know several who
agree with you. But what Tarantino was trying to
do was create a 'good' grind house film. He was
trying to take a B-movie to an A-list level. And
if you have a problem with mundane dialog and
conversations that stretch aimlessly, you should
skip Tarantino because that is kind of what he
does. And it works for him. If you hated that
aspect of "Death Proof", you must have really
hated "Jackie Brown" and "Reservoir Dogs".
- added 11/02/2007, 04:33 PM
I heard Reservoir Dogs was good from one of the
guys who watched "Death Proof" with me (he hated
this one too) so I think Tarantino is more of a
hit or miss director for me. Pulp Fiction was
good, Kill Bill was alright, but I was honestly
disappointed. Anyway, good talking to you.
Whether I agree with you or not I have a lot of
respect for your opinions on movies.
- added 03/31/2008, 01:29 PM
Great movie, definitely more intelligent than
Planet Terror. The whole time I was cheering for
Stuntman Mike. I dunno, these women just seemed
like trash to me and I really wanted them to eat
it. Thank god for the first act.
grain of sand
- added 05/24/2008, 04:53 AM
This is such a cool, hip fuckin movie.. Classic
is the only word to describe it.. Kurt Russel at
his best.. Some amazing fuckin imagery, I love
this movie 10/10
- added 08/03/2008, 03:05 PM
I agree with Mr. Mistoffelees, "Death
Proof" is boring, long and pretty darn
lame... There are better things to do and better
movie to watch.
- added 01/20/2009, 10:26 AM
I thought this movie was great! Sure I have
friends that hated it, but how do you hate a movie
like this? The girls are totally badass! Bought
the soundtrack as well. 10/10