Directed By: Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino
Distributed By: The Weinstein Company
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you’ve heard about the latest collaboration between famed directors, Robert Rodriguez (Once Upon A Time in Mexico) and Quentin Taranatino (Pulp Fiction), called Grindhouse. Grindhouse is the two director’s attempt to return to the films they enjoyed in their youths. According to them, Grindhouse movies were usually low budget, slasher, exploitation flicks that were not shown in the mainstream theaters, and usually ran two at a time in drive-ins.
This movie is likewise a two-parter. The first, Planet Terror, is Mr. Rodriguez’s baby and is a sci-fi film, staring Rose McGowan (Charmed) as Cherry Darling, a Go-Go dancer whose just undergone a career change and Freddie Rodriquez (Teen Titans) as Wray, a mysterious rogue with a checkered past. Then there’s Dr. Dakota Block (Marley Shelton), a woman trying to escape from her abusive husband. Okay, this premise is a little complicated so I’ll try my best not to confuse anyone with the explanation. Planet Terror is about a group of rogue US soldiers, infected with a biochemical disease fighting to find a cure before it transforms them into mindless, ravenous zombie-like creatures. In the process, however, a small town gets infected and the disease spreads rapidly, touching the lives of Dr. Block, Wray and Cherry in various ways. They band together, along with the remaining members of their town to survive and try to stop the epidemic before the world is lost.
I’ll get into the pros and the cons of this movie in a minute, but first, onto Tarantino’s Deathproof, starring Rosario Dawson (Rent) as Abby, Tracie Thoms (Rent) as Kim, Zoe Bell as herself, and Kurt Russell (Escape from New York/LA) as—god I can’t believe I’m actually going to type this—Stuntman Mike. The premise of this movie, by comparison, is far simpler than the previous one so it’ll be quick. Mike is a deranged former stuntman whose heydays are behind him and is seeking his thrills with his purportedly death-proof car. What does death-proof mean? Simple, it’s a stunt car that has been tricked out to withstand just about any kind of impact without injuring the driver. So, bloodthirsty and crazy as he is, Mike spends his time scoping out bars for young females to vehicularly assault to death, usually by ramming their car at high speed. Zoe Bell and Kim are stunt women who also have a need for thrills and adventure with cars. After Mike has finished killing a group of girls, he has his sights set on Zoe whom he discovers whilst she is riding on the hood of a speeding car, joyriding. Mike proceeds to try to run her car off the road with her still on the hood. What follows is a long, adrenaline-filled car fight that had me on the edge of my seat throughout the rest of the movie, culminating in a butt-kicking scene of blood and revenge.
That’s the premise of the two movies in a nutshell, so onto the opinion section. Planet Terror was a vintage type of movie, full of gross special effects and action scenes. Wray’s character was especially funny, considering that he the typical, mystery man from all the old movies I’ve seen. And the way they “revealed” his secret past was hysterical. I liked this film’s authentic feel, even down to the quality of the film—which looked grainy and old—and the plot was reminiscent of those 70’s VHS tapes I used to rent. The characters were over the top, the action scenes were fun and exciting and the plot was just campy enough to be worth the price of admission.
Deathproof, on the other hand was not so action-packed, not so vintage and not so authentic. It did have the feel of such films as House on the Hill, but the beginning was far too slowly paced for my tastes. It did pick up near the middle and held on to my attention from that point forward, but it nearly lost me before it got to that point. I have to say that the car fight alone was worth the price of admission and had me gritting my teeth wondering what would happen next.
And if the movies themselves were not enough, there are two mock-trailers—Machete and Werewomen of the SS. Overall, this movie—three hours long and all—was worth watching. I would have preferred, however that the order of the movies had been reversed, with the slower movie as the lead and ending with the faster-paced movie to close. Rodriguez’s film was by far better than Tarantino’s, but both had merit on their own, especially as homage to the older generation of horror films. Other than that, it was great and I’d recommend it to anyone.