Let’s face it fair readers, I was born in the wrong era. While I’m living in the time of cell phones and reality television, I should be living in the time of grind houses, and porno theaters. While I’m in a time of Kelly Clarkson, I should be in a time of Donna Summer. Simply put, I wish I was born during another time. But, you have to admit, Tarantino and Rodriguez got what they wanted. They wanted to create the grind house experience, and that’s exactly what I received. A double feature, scratchy film, and an empty theater. It’s me and my family, and about four other people, and no one got the joke.
No one understood what “Grindhouse” was all about. Sure, you don’t have to be a genius, or some film scholar to know what the movie’s novelty is, but it’s not difficult to do some tiny research. “Grindhouse” is everything I wanted, everything I was hoping for, and everything I expected in one big fanboygasm. I can’t review this on our normal system, so rather than split it all up, I’m reviewing it as one packet. Firstly, the trailers are fantastic. From “Thanksgiving,” to “Werewolf Women of the SS,” I had a blast with the artificial movies that were coming to a theater near us.
But my favorites are without a doubt, “Don’t,” and “Thanksgiving,” directed by Edgar Wright, and (surprise, surprise!) Eli Roth. Both trailers are hilarious, brilliant, and pretty much had the entire audience in tears. And there are cameos by folks like Nic Cage, and Danny Trejo. “Planet Terror” is a zombie movie that turns into an action movie halfway through. One of the few caveats of the film. While I wanted balls to the wall zombie carnage throughout, I only really got that halfway, and then it was the Dirty Dozen. Which is not to say “Planet Terror” isn’t wonderful.
Freddy Rodriguez and Rose McGowan stand out among the star studded cast of Michael Biehn, Tom Savini, and Jeff Fahey, giving excellent performances as jilted lovers who become saviors of the world. When a mysterious toxin is released, a small town’s residents are infected with a mysterious agent that turns them into a rotting flesh eating zombies. Rodriguez is a bad ass motherfucker known as Ray, a truck driver who re-unites with his babe Cherry baby, during the havoc. The beautiful delicious McGowan, is top-notch during “Grindhouse” providing two roles, one of whom is an instant sexual memory. The stripper Cherry Baby whose leg goes missing, then turns into a gun towing bitch who takes zombie ass out with her right leg. Rodriguez and Tarantino have much different movies.
“Planet Terror” is a film that is slightly spoofing the over the top atmosphere of these films with cheesy performances, and action that’s so off the wall, but enthralling. Watching Ray walk down a hall knifing a bunch of puss spewing zombies is something I’ll remember for a long time. Rodriguez has his shit together here, and his usual bad habit of thin characters is thrown away for characterization that’s enough to tide us over. Along with a few “Missing Reel” scenes that I laughed my ass off with, of course. The zombies here are frightening, and yet so worthy of a belly laugh once you take a gander at them. All the veterans are here. Tarantino, Michael Parks, his son, and all the references to the Tarantino-verse you can imagine, along with stars like Bruce Willis, Naveen Andrews, and Nicky Katt, respectively.
“Planet Terror” was an insane zombie flick with a twisted romance worthy of Argento featuring Josh Brolin as an insane physician, and Marley Shelton as a sore assistant who dispenses of folks with her “three friends.” Tarantino suffers with “Death Proof” in some places, and for that I sat there frightened. Should this gimmick have been just one movie? Well, I was pleasantly surprised. With his healthy fetish for feet, long legs, asses, and female empowerment, Tarantino hits it out of the ball park and sends it into orbit with “Death Proof.” In the frame of “Duel” meets “Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry,” Tarantino takes us into the lives of a group of bar hoppers who meet up with a charming and creepy man named Stuntman Mike.
Kurt Russell is back into the personality that provided him with the richly deserved fame, giving a hell of a performance as this road hound who loves raping women with his muscle car. Mike is a charmer, even if he’s a slime ball, and they experience a case of rigomortis, which then Tarantino shifts the narrative onto a group of friends arriving from a movie shoot. The foursome is played by Rosario Dawson, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Zoe Bell (who plays herself) and the lovely Tracie Thoms. Tarantino not only dives right into characterization, but also he’s fast and quick with his usual pop culture references, and engrossing dialogue. “Death Proof” will have you restless if you’re not accustomed to Tarantino’s penchant for verbose narrative, but I was patient.
Not only that, but “Death Proof” is a female empowerment film without being a man hating one, while he also gives everyone their due. Each and every cast member has their spotlight, and they take it away. Winstead and Dawson are hilarious as two jilted Hollywood players who are more than happy to have a vacation, but the two stand outs are the wonderful Zoe Bell who puts her stuntwoman experience to work in the climax, yet also manages to gives a great performance, while Tracie Thoms chews up the scenery and spits it out her lovely ass as the rough necking, take no prisoners leader Kim. Thoms is excellent here, and she has a pure chemistry with Bell who is really in top form. The car chase in the climax has to be seen to be believed. It has to be experienced, pure and simple. It’s been four hours after the film and I’m still gleaming.
Though smug, “Death Proof” is a fascinating and beautiful little psycho car film in which our villain discovers that not all women are boozing, slutty, and helpless. “Grindhouse” as a whole is a wonderful gimmick, with talent, thrills, chills, and endless laughs, and it’s a damn shame no one wanted to give it a chance. A damn shame. Do I have to open fire on a theater to get through to you assholes? Probably not, but “Grindhouse” is that good, that it inspires that much rage that no one could experience it with me. I’m angry no one went to see this, because this is a film lover’s delight that revels in giving us what we don’t have anymore. Fun movies, worth every single cent we paid, and fantastic in-jokes that are sure to draw a laugh. Thank you Tarantino, thank you Rodriguez, it was a pleasure.