Austin, Texas. The opening titles come up as Shanna (Jordan Ladd) and Arlene (Vanessa Ferlito) drive around in their car. Shanna and Arlene pick up their DJ friend, Jungle Julia (Sydney Poitier), and they drive around while talking about boys and drugs. They cheer every time they see a billboard with Jungle Julia on it. They go to a local bar named Gueros. As they enter, Arlene sees a black car stopped in the middle of the street. The driver watches the girls and then speeds off down the road. Inside, the girls are approached by Jungle Julia's friend. They all make it apparent that Julia issued a challenge to her listeners about Arlene on the radio earlier. She said that she was going out with her friends that night, and if anyone sees Arlene, then they should approach her and give her a drink. When they do, they have to look her in the eyes and recite a little poem. If they do all that and call her "butterfly," then Arlene will give them a lap dance. Arlene gets after Jungle Julia for saying that on the air, but she says that if she doesn't do it, everyone will know that she's chicken shit. Julia makes a deal with her, though... if it's an unattractive guy, then Arlene can say that she was already approached and already gave the lap dance.
The girls drink and then go to another bar, called the Texas Chili Parlor run by Warren (Quentin Tarantino), where they continue to drink up a storm. Dov (Eli Roth) and his friend join the girls and drink with them. Julia spends some time alone, text messaging a guy and telling him that she's waiting for him. She then rejoins her friends just as Warren buys them all shots of Chartreuse. Arlene has had enough and goes outside to smoke a cigarette. Warren notices that a light in the parking lot is off, and tells a bartender to turn it on. When they do, Arlene sees the black car from before parked in the lot.
The car is owned by Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell), who is in the bar sloppily eating nachos. Dov and his friend want to have sex with the girls, but they're going to a vacation house for a strictly "girls-only" weekend. Dov plans to get the girls extra drunk so that they will let them come over as well.
Dov makes fun of Stuntman Mike due to his 1980s clothes and hairstyle. Also at the bar is Pam (Rose McGowan), an old schoolmate of Julia, whom she has a little rivalry with. Pam asks Warren if he knows anyone dependable who can give her a lift home, when a set of keys slide across the bar. Stuntman Mike offers to drive her home, but she'll have to wait until he's ready to leave. Pam asks if he'll be sober enough to drive later on, but Stuntman Mike says that he doesn't drink alcohol, which prompts her to ask why he's been hanging around the bar for hours. Stuntman Mike says that the bar offers more than alcohol, including women and nachos.
Lanna Frank (Monica Staggs) shows up and hangs out with Julia. At one point they go outside and smoke some pot when Stuntman Mike introduces himself to Julia. He pretends not to know who she is, even though there's a big billboard of her right next to them. She offers him some pot, but he declines. It looks like he's about to sneeze for the longest time, but he doesn't. He excuses himself and goes back inside, making the girls think he's a loser. Inside, Pam has been talking to Warren, and neither knows which films Stuntman Mike has been in. He gives a whole laundry list of TV shows and actors from the 1970s and 1980s, but Pam is not familiar with any of them.
Later on, Julia asks Arlene if she wants the boys to come with them back to the house, but she says no. Stuntman Mike approaches Arlene with a drink, looks her dead in the eyes, recites the poem, and calls her "Butterfly." Julia says that Arlene already did the lap dance earlier. Stuntman Mike asks if it's his scar across his face that frightens Arlene, but she says that it's his car... she recognizes it from earlier. Julia again tells him that she already did the lap dance, but he doesn't buy her story. He knows that Arlene feels a little hurt that no one approached her before to recite the poem, and smooth talks her. He then pulls out a notebook which he says has the names of all the people he's met, and says that he's going to have to put Arlene's name under "chicken shit." Arlene is enticed by him, and agrees to give him the lap dance. She tells him to go inside and get ready.
Arlene gives Stuntman Mike his lap dance (cut from the theatrical version) as the bar is closing up for the night while a few patrons, including the Crazy Babysitter Twins (from 'Planet Terror'), watch with interest.
A little later, with the bar closed for the night, everyone is leaving. Mike approaches Pam and again offers to driver her home (though she says to the other girls that she won't have sex with him, which he overhears). Pam is a little freaked out by his black car, which has a skull and crossbones on the hood. Stuntman Mike assures her that the car is "death proof" due to being a stunt car, and is reinforced on all sides. He opens the passenger door for her, and she notices that the passenger seat is only a removable stool, and there's a Plexiglas barrier between it and the driver's seat. She sits down, and he slams the door shut. As they begin to leave, Stuntman Mike sees Julia and her friends turning to the left. He asks Pam which way she's going. She's going to the right, but he tells her that that's too bad because they're both going left. Had Pam been going to the left, she wouldn't have gotten scared for a while, but because she wanted to go to the right she's going to have to be scared immediately. Stuntman Mike slams the gas and speeds off to the left. He swerves around hard, causing Pam to be thrown around in her seat. She's bloodied, and she begs for him to stop and tell her this is a joke. He tells her that this car is 100% death proof, but in order to get the benefit of it she really needs to be sitting in the driver's seat. Stuntman Mike slams on the brakes, causing Pam to smash her head on the dashboard, breaking her nose and apparently sending pieces of it into her brain. She dies painfully as he watches. He then lowers his visor to pull out photos of Julia, Arlene, and Shanna. He throws out the photos and speeds off towards the girls.
Lanna drives the girls down a rural dark road, Julia in the front and Shanna and Arlene seated in the back. Stuntman Mike catches up and speeds ahead of them. While the girls enjoy a song that Julia had called her radio station to request, Stuntman Mike swerves the car around up ahead in the road and turns off his lights. He revs the engine and speeds towards the girls head-on. Stuntman Mike turns on his lights at the last possible moment, but it's too late for the girls. Both cars collide, and carnage ensues..... Shanna is thrown from the car and dies from the impact..... Lanna's neck is broken as it's smashed against the steering wheel..... Julia is mangled, and her severed right leg goes flying..... And as Stuntman Mike's car careens through their car, one of the tires brutally rips Arlene's face off.
Stuntman Mike is brought to the hospital, where Earl McGraw (Michael Parks) and his son Edgar McGraw (James Parks) (from 'Kill Bill' and 'Planet Terror') ask Dr. Dakota Block (Marley Shelton) (also from 'Planet Terror') how the patient is doing. Earl gives his daughter some lip about having her last name being Block, which makes Dakota storm off. Earl tells Edgar that he thinks Stuntman Mike premeditated the car crash, but he of course can't prove it. Even though he was seriously hurt in the crash, he will recover from his injuries.
The story jumps ahead 14 months in Lebanon, Tennessee. In a black-and-white sequence cut from the original theatrical movie, Stuntman Mike arrives at a local Circle A convenience store for a rest when he spots a yellow car pull up alongside him, with a pair of women's bare feet sticking out a window. Inside the care are a sleeping Abernathy (Rosario Dawson), the driver Kim (Tracie Thoms), and Lee (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). The girls work in the movie industry, with Kim being a stuntwoman and Lee being an actress (who's stuck wearing a cheerleader uniform), and Abernathy is a make-up person and stand-in. They have driven all night from Hollywood to this small town to pick up a friend from the local airport. While Kim goes off, Stuntman Mike decides, out of the blue, to target this latest group of women. Having somewhat of a foot fetish, he brushes by Abernathy's feet pretending to look for his car keys, and drives off, shadowing them from a distance. Abernathy puts on her boots and enters the Circle A store to get money from an ATM machine, and to buy some Red Bull energy drinks for herself. She buys a few fashion magazines, and they clerk tells her that he has this month's edition of Vogue magazine from Italy. She tells Lee still waiting outside for Kim about it and wants to buy the magazine for the clerk's price of $27. Lee is somewhat reluctant, but agrees to share the magazine with Abernathy.
Afterwards, the three meet up again and drive to the local airport where they pick up stunt woman Zoe (Zoe Bell, playing herself) from the airport, who has arrived from New Zealand for a few days to visit. Stuntman Mike takes pictures of all of them and watches from a distance in the airport parking lot. Driving off, they tell Zoe about the movie they are working on and they have the next few days off, and so they plan to party. They discuss boys, and Abernathy talks about almost sleeping with the director and about Lee's romance with a crew person.
Eating breakfast at a small local diner, Abernathy talks about a previous movie shoot location and about Zoe's natural stunt ability to always land on her feet, earning her the nickname, "Zoe the Cat". It's made clear that Lee is not too bright and that Kim carries a gun around. Abernathy tells her that people who carry guns are more likely to get shot, and recommends other weapons to carry (pepper spray, knife, e.t.c...). Kim says that when she does her laundry at her L.A. apartment building at midnight, she doesn't want to get raped, so she carries around a gun. From Kim's point of view, people who use knives get shot by muggers who usually carry guns and kill people after mugging them. Zoe and Kim also talk about the movie 'Vanishing Point', and what a great movie it is. Zoe says that it's long been her dream to drive a car like the one in the film, and that she has been following the classified ads in the local paper; someone has advertised the same make/model of the car: a 1970 Dodge Challenger, and Zoe wants to feign a test drive so that she can fulfill her fantasy. Throughout this conversation, Stuntman Mike silently watches them from the front counter.
The girls drive to the car owner's house, where Jasper (Jonathan Loughran) keeps the car out back. Zoe wants to test drive the car without Jasper in order to do a dangerous stunt with Kim called the "Ship's Mast", but Kim absolutely does not want to take part. Zoe finally convinces her to do it when she offers to be her "back-cracking" slave for the next few days. Abernathy wants to join in, but Kim and Zoe tell her that it's too dangerous since she's a mother, so she can't. Abernathy is tired of that excuse, and will do whatever they're doing. They all can't go, though, since the plan relies on Jasper letting them take the car without him. Abernathy convinces the others to take her along by persuading Jasper to let them take his car without him. She tells him where they're staying and their full names so he can find them if they take off. Also, she's going to leave Lee behind so that she can possibly engage in sex with him. Jasper happily agrees, and the girls leave the confused Lee behind with Jasper.
They stop the car in the middle of the road, and Kim and Zoe discuss who's going to do it first. Zoe will start off on top, and ties her belt around a door. Kim ties Abernathy's belt around the other door. The girls speed down the road with the windows down, and Zoe climbs out the window onto the roof. From there, she holds onto the belts and lies down on the hood while Kim races the car down the road. Abernathy is nervous at first, but slowly enjoys herself. All the while Stuntman Mike watches them with his binoculars. He laughs and speeds off towards the girls.
A harrowing car chase beings as Stuntman Mike smashes into the back of the car, which freaks them out. He continually smashes his car against theirs, causing Zoe to gradually lose her grip on the belts. It gets to the point where Zoe has to hold onto the hood, but she continually struggles to stay on while Stuntman Mike smashes their car. Eventually, he crashes into their car so much that it causes them to swerve onto the shoulder of a road near the woods, throwing Zoe into a clump of brush. Stuntman Mike gets out of his car with glee and says that it was fun. Kim pulls out her gun and shoots him in the shoulder. He speeds off down the road while Abernathy and Kim are shaken up and cry over Zoe. Zoe, however, pops up and tells them that she's okay. The girls plan to get back at their attacker. Zoe grabs a metal pole and straddles the passenger window of the car while Kim speeds down the road.
Stuntman Mike stops in the middle of the road, in pain from his bullet wound, wailing over his undeserved misfortune. He drinks a lot of alcohol and pours some on his arm. The girls crash into the back of his car, and Zoe smashes his windows out. She jabs his arm and head with the pole and Stuntman Mike speeds off again. Zoe, Kim, and Abernathy chase after him down the highway and through back roads. The tables have turned, and Kim now continually smashes into Stuntman Mike's car, who is driving with only one good arm and has not had time to put on his safety belts.
Their chase leads to a local highway which causes other drivers to swerve out of control, along with a biker who's sent flying off his motorcycle. The chase leads to another back road where the girls accidentally go off the road onto a dirt farm road, running parallel the main road. The girls eventually swerve back onto the road, and cause Stuntman Mike's car to lose control and flip over. They get out of their car and drag him out of his. Abernathy, Kim, and Zoe beat Stuntman Mike to death with their bare hands.
The closing credits run for a few moments until Abernathy lands a death blow by smashing Mike's face in with her boot. All three jump up in celebration of their triumph.