A double-bill of thrillers that recall both filmmakers' favorite exploitation films. "Grindhouse" (a downtown movie theater in disrepair since its glory days as a movie palace known for "grinding out" non-stop double-bill programs of B-movies) is presented as one full-length feature comprised of two individual films helmed separately by each director. "Death Proof," is a rip-roaring slasher flick where the killer pursues his victims with a car rather than a knife, while "Planet Terror" shows us a view of the world in the midst of a zombie outbreak. The films are joined together by clever faux trailers that recall the '50s exploitation drive-in classics. Written by
I feel the need to think and write about "Grindhouse" as one complete entity, because splitting up the distinct parts is like separating a head from the torso, arms and legs that let it rise up and chase whatever it feels threatened by. This wacko love letter to the less than elegant cinema experience is disgusting, exciting, uproarious and about a thousand other words I could type. I saw it twice in the spring of 2007 and would have went a few more times if it hadn't disappeared as quickly as it did. The tickets were worth every penny.
The packed houses were rocking for three hours each time and I'm still annoyed more people didn't support the full "Grindhouse" package, as they could have done much worse in choosing a flick to go see that year. The only remedy I can propose is keep the budgets down and make two more features (this time from different directors), create some new trailers (including one each from Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino) and market the heck out of this package deal, hoping there is a larger audience who are hipper to this trip the second time around. The flaw wasn't in the concept, it was with the youth crowd who should have been out there supporting a more bang for your buck venture.
Rodriguez drops a great bomb of a tale (confirming my theory that a zombie movie always kicks the ass of a vampire movie!). His wild and wonderful "Planet Terror" is the great blending of several b-movie staples into one funny and vital alloy. Quentin gets his finest hour as an actor, revelling in the scum passing for human he plays for all it's worth. Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez and Josh Brolin each have meaty material to devour and the supporting cast (especially the crazy babysitter twins) all have the time of their lives.
Complaining about Tarantino's dialogue or anything else that was a pet peeve of the "Death Proof" critics is missing the point. These characters hang out and shoot the breeze until it's time to shoot the enemy! Here, Kurt Russell gets a character just as rich (if not richer) than Snake Plissken and he makes the most of it. His one brick shy of a load stuntman is the kind of fringe player most people in film have met at some point and he gives the best performance of his career. And Zoe Bell gets my award for most insane physical performance by an actual stunt woman (how did they ever get insurance for her on this f$$king project?...didn't anyone read the script?!).
My only complaint is Mary Winstead didn't get to belt out a few more numbers (hint, hint, Quentin...bring back Mary as Lee Montgomery in another project!). Maybe her character should have been a pop star who isn't a total studio gimmick, as her voice is far superior to most of the young ladies making a living as so called singers. Baby, it's her that deserved more screen time!
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