The film is meant to be an homage to the double features that played in grindhouses. However, during the initial weeks of release, exhibitors were reporting that many audience members were leaving the cinema after the first feature ("Planet Terror" by Robert Rodriguez), apparently not realizing, or forgetting, that a second feature was going to be shown. One reason cited was that many of audience members were too young to remember when theaters showed double features. The distributor planned some changes in the campaign while some exhibitors solved the problem by posting employees by the auditorium doors to remind departing patrons that the program contains a second feature.
During filming, Josh Brolin asked Robert Rodriguez for a video camera so he could shoot his audition tape for No Country for Old Men (2007). He ended up having his audition shot with the million dollar digital camera they were using for the picture, directed by Quentin Tarantino, and with Marley Shelton reading the part of his wife in the scene. The tape was then scored and edited by Rodriguez before being sent to Joel Coen and Ethan Coen. Their first response on viewing the tape was to ask who lit the set.
In an interview with Newsweek, Quentin Tarantino stated he came up with the idea of Death Proof (2007) when he was talking to a friend about buying a car. Tarantino wanted to buy a Volvo because he "didn't want to die in some auto accident like the one in Pulp Fiction (1994)." In regards to the safety of the car, his friend had said, "Well, you could take any car and give it to a stunt team, and for 10,000 dollars or 15,000 dollars, they can death-proof it for you." The "death proof" phrase had stuck to Tarantino after that.
Edgar Wright's preview "Don't" is based on the Jerry Gross organization's preview for Sergio Martino's The Corpses Bore Traces Of Carnal Violence, retitled Torso (1973). The original trailer chanted the word "torso" faster and faster over every shortening clips of the film, as did Wright's trailer with the word "Don't."
A few shots of the lap dance scene from the missing reel of Death Proof (2007) can be seen in the Grindhouse (2007) trailer. The shots of Vanessa Ferlito crawling along the floor to a seated Kurt Russell do not appear in the theatrical film.
The "missing reels" in the Grindhouse films were an original William Castle-style idea cooked up by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. Tarantino owns a print of the Oliver Reed film The Sell-Out (1976) which when he bought it was missing a reel (containing a major plot point). After watching the film in this way, Tarantino found the scenes that he didn't see created an interesting mystery which made him try to figure out what went down in those scenes. Contrary to rumors, in the Grindhouse era, frames would often be missing from films but not entire 20-30 minute reels. This was not a staple of Grindhouse cinema.
The Canadian release of Grindhouse (2007) had one extra trailer attached to the opening of the film. The trailer was called "Hobo With A Shotgun" and was the winner of the SXSW Grindhouse fake trailer competition. The short was directed by an indie film maker from Nova Scotia, Canada, named Jason Eisener.
The two cars in the chase at the end are a black 1969 Dodge Charger (an homage to the General Lee, with the correct 10 spoke American Racing Vector rims), and a 1970 Dodge Challenger (just like the one Barry Newman drove in Vanishing Point (1971).
The license plate on Stuntman Mike's (Death Proof (2007)) Chevy Nova is JJZ-109. This is the same license plate number that was on the 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback that Steve McQueen's character drove in Bullitt (1968).
The movie was split up for some theaters overseas, because most non-English speaking countries might not understand the tradition behind the "grindhouse" double-feature and the underlying concept might be lost. The two movies were called: "Grindhouse: Planet Terror" and "Grindhouse: Death Proof".
The complete list of songs contained in the jukebox is as follows: 1. Isaac Hayes - Theme from Shaft / Ellie's Love Theme (From Shaft (1971)) 2. Barry White - You're the First, the Last, My Everything / Can't Get Enough 3. Bob Dylan - George Jackson (Acoustic) / George Jackson (Big Band) 4. Stevie Wonder - Lately / If It's Magic 5. The Chi-Lites - Have You Seen Her / Oh Girl 6. The THP Orchestra - Theme from S.W.A.T., Pt. 1 / Oh Girl 7. Stevie Wonder - I Ain't Gonna Stand for It / Knocks Me off My Feet 8. Bloodstone - Natural High / This Thing is Heavy ("Natural High" is heard in Jackie Brown (1997)) 9. Don McLean - American Pie, Pt. 1 / American Pie, Pt. 2 10. The Sweet - Little Willy / Man from Mecca 11. The Isley Brothers - Take Me to the Next Phase, Pt. 1 / Take Me to the Next Phase, Pt. 2 12. The Miracles - Love Machine, Pt. 1 / Love Machine, Pt. 2 13. Bob Dylan - Subterranean Homesick Blues / She Belongs to Me 14. Honey Cone - Stick Up / V.I.P. 15. Earth, Wind and Fire - Shining Star / Yearning, Learning 16. Amii Stewart - Knock on Wood / When You Are Beautiful 17. Honey Cone - Want Ads / We Belong Together 18. Kool & the Gang - Hollywood Swinging / Jungle Boogie ("Jungle Boogie" is heard in Pulp Fiction (1994)) 19. Bob Dylan - Band of the Hand / Theme from Joe's Death (From Band of the Hand (1986)) 20. The Sweet - Wig-Wam-Bam / New York Connection 21. The Friends of Distinction - Grazing in the Grass / I Really Hope You Do 22. Marvin Gaye - Trouble Man / Don't Mess With Mr. T (From Trouble Man (1972)) 23. Bob Dylan - Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again / Rita May 24. Pacific Gas & Electric - Are You Ready? / Staggolee ("Staggolee" is heard in Death Proof (2007)) 25. Donna Summer - Love to Love you Baby / Need-A-Man Blues 26. Michael Zager Band - Let's All Chant / Love Express 27. Santa Esmeralda - Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood / You're My Everything ("Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" is heard in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)) 28. Jigsaw - Sky High / Brand New Love Affair 29. George Baker Selection - Little Green Bag / Pretty Little Dreamer ("Little Green Bag" is heard in Reservoir Dogs (1992)) 30. The Sweet - Blockbuster / Need a Lot of Lovin' 31. Eddie Floyd - Good Love, Bad Love / Things Get Better ("Good Love, Bad Love" is heard in Death Proof (2007)) 32. Joe Tex - The Love You Save / If Sugar Was as Sweet as You ("The Love You Save" is heard in Death Proof (2007)) 33. Bob Dylan - Gotta Serve Somebody (Long Version) / Gotta Serve Somebody (Short Version) 34. Dick Dale - Misirlou / Eight Till Midnight ("Miserlou" is heard in Pulp Fiction (1994)) 35. Lee Williams - They Told a Lie / I'm Tore Up 36. William Bell - Formula of Love / You Don't Miss Your Water 37. Dinah Washington - Mad About the Boy / Stormy Weather 38. The Box Tops - Cry Like a Baby / The Door You Closed to Me 39. The Checkmates, Ltd. - Black Pearl / Lazy Susan 40. The Sweet - Fox on the Run / Miss Demeanor 41. The Delfonics - Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time) / La-La Means I Love You ("Didn't I" is heard in Jackie Brown (1997)) 42. Brothers Johnson - Get the Funk Outta Ma Face / Tomorrow 43. Bob Dylan - Hurricane, Pt. 1 / Hurricane, Pt. 2 44. ABBA - Waterloo / Watch Out 45. T. Rex - Jeepster / Life's a Gas ("Jeepster" is heard in Death Proof (2007)) 46. Melanie - What Have They Done to My Song Ma? / Ruby Tuesday 47. Commander Cody - Hot Rod Lincoln / Beat Me Daddy Eight to the Bar 48. Dean Martin - Rio Bravo / My Rifle My Pony and Me (From Rio Bravo (1959)) 49. Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich - Hold Tight! / You Know What I Want
The cheerleader costume worn by Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Death Proof (2007) says 'Vipers' in homage to the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (DiVAS) in "Kill Bill". It is also the same colors as the jump suit Uma Thurman wore and Bruce Lee wore before her in Game of Death (1978); yellow with black stripes.
"The poem that Jungle Julia has her listeners recite to Butterfly is an excerpt of the poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost." - it is also a reference to the thriller Telefon (1977)," where the poem was used as a posthypnotic signal to activate Russian sleeper agents.
In the uncut European version of Death Proof (2007), Kim says she has to pee while at a liquor store. Lee and Abernathy respond "Thats a little more information then we needed to know." This is a reference back to Pulp Fiction (1994) where Uma Thurman says this to John Travolta.
At the beginning of Death Proof (2007), Vanessa Ferlito's character is drinking from a soda cup. The restaurant on the cup is the same Mexican restaurant (Acuna Boys') that is advertised during the transition between "Planet Terror" and "Death Proof". Acura Boys was the name of the gang in the city of Acura where the brothel was. The Acura Boys were said to be the offspring of the brothel prostitutes pimped by Esteban who was a mentor to Bill and who Uma's character Beatrix asks "where's Bill?"
In the first mock preview, directed by Robert Rodriguez, Danny Trejo plays the title character, Machete. Machete was the name of Danny Trejo's character in Rodriguez's "Spy Kids" movies. In both he is a character that is inventive with weapons.
In order to give the cast and crew an idea of how a double feature grindhouse movie would feel, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino compiled together the Italian films: Torso (1973) and Zombie (1979), with a few old grind house trailers in between.
According to Tarantino Universe aficionados, this is the 3rd appearance of "Jungle" Julia. First, was as Unruly Julie in My Best Friend's Birthday- she's mentioned as a rival DJ to Clarence. 2nd as Wayne Gale's assistant in Natural Born Killers. 3rd, as a DJ in Death Proof.
The jukebox featured in "Death Proof" (named AMi, pronounced "Amy"), is Quentin Tarantino's own. It was trucked to Austin to be used in the film in its very own rig. The list of songs on it was also hand-written by Tarantino.
In the uncut European version of Death Proof (2007), there is a scene where Stuntman Mike feels Abernathy's feet while she is asleep in the car and Lee isn't paying attention. When she wakes up from it, he pretends he just touched them by accident as he was walking by going to his car. Later when he attacks the girls driving the Challenger, this explains how Abernathy is the only person who recognizes him from earlier.
The cops in the hospital after Stuntman Mike crashes his car for the first time are the cops in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) who report to the scene of the wedding day massacre, played by real-life father-son team Michael Parks and James Parks.
In the segment "Planet Terror" the soldiers at the army base are seen watching a "grindhouse" trailer for the film Women in Cages (1971) starring Pam Grier. This full trailer and more were put on the special edition of the DVD of Jackie Brown (1997), directed by Quentin Tarantino, whose character watches the trailer briefly in the scene.
In the uncut European Version of Death Proof (2007), Abernathy's cell phone ring is Bernard Herman's Twisted Nerve (1968), which is also reference to Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003). The scene also has Abernathy buying the Allure Magazine with Lee in it which will later be used in the scene where they convince Jasper to let them test drive the Challenger.
Did not receive a home video release in the U.S. for three years following it's theatrical distribution. Death Proof (2007) and Planet Terror (2007) were initially released separately as extended edition DVDs and Blu-rays, but without the fake trailers (only the 'Machete' trailer was included in 'Planet Terror'). 'Grindhouse' was shown on digital cable TV airings as early as 2009, but by then, was already available on DVD in several countries worldwide. Vivendi Entertainment eventually released the film as a Collector's Edition Blu-ray in September, 2010.
In the Death Proof (2007) segment when Kim, Zoe and Abby are in the Challenger, ready to go on their "test drive", they pull up by Mary and Abby says, "Hey good looking, we'll be back later for YOU!" This was a line in a commercial for a cheesy Ronco product, Mr. Microphone, in the 70s.
In "Death Proof", the two waitresses that do shots with the group in The Texas Chili Parlor are Lonestar Roller Derby girls "Venis Envy" from the "Putas del Fuego", and "Punky Bruiser" from the "Holy Rollers".
The name "Grindhouse" may be taken from a poster from the movie Policewomen (1974). (The font and font coloring used for the opening title sequence in Pulp Fiction (1994) were also the same as used in Policewomen.)
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
A scene was cut showing Stuntman Mike masturbating in his flipped over car after the first car accident. It was decided to be unnecessary since the following scene would have Texas Ranger Earl McGraw explain to the audience it was a sexual fetish for Stuntman Mike to do this.
Robert Rodriguez found the scene, where Dr. Dakota Block leaves her son Tony in the car with a gun, to be so chilling to film, he didn't want to use anyone else's children to play Tony, so he used his own son, Rebel Rodriguez, so he wouldn't feel as bad "killing a child".
In an interview, Fergie stated that during her scenes with Quentin Tarantino, he had bitten her on the neck saying that it was one of the coolest moments filming, despite her agent almost wanting to sue Tarantino for that stunt.
The Dr. Dakota Block character (Marley Shelton) has a large role in the "Planet Terror" segment, and shows up for a smaller role (playing the same character) in Death Proof (2007)- with her yellow, blue and red needle "friends" once again in her lab coat breast pocket.
The Machine Gun Leg is an homage to the Sam Raimi film Evil Dead II (1987). In Evil Dead II (1987), Ash has a chainsaw arm after cutting off his hand. Both Ash and Cherry did not get their new special "limb" until the final climactic fights.
When asked about the ending, Robert Rodriguez said "I consider it an anti-Army of Darkness (1992) like ending. In Army of Darkness (1992), Ash is returned to normal suburbia and battles the Undead. In my film, Planet Terror, the characters are taken out of suburbia and now battle the undead in a more barren landscape."
In Death Proof (2007), when Stuntman Mike realizes that Jungle Julia is the same girl that's on multiple billboards around town, Julia calls him "Zatoichi". Zatoichi is a samurai swordsman of legend that is blind, and was featured in dozens of Japanese films.
Originally, the first crash in Death Proof (2007) was to take place on an overpass, and after the cars hit, they were to fall off and land on a highway. Another car, going eighty miles per hour, was to crash into them once they reached the highway, causing there to be another female victim.