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Because of low box office returns in the USA (total gross: 25 million
$; movie's budget: 100 million), that outrageously mouth-watering
experiment known as Grindhouse was split in half for the European
release: first came Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof, a masterful
reinvention of the slasher flick, the main strength of which was
focusing on characters and atmosphere rather than film references; and
now comes Planet Terror, Robert Rodriguez's zombie opus which has
"excessive" (read: fun) written all over it.
That this is going to be a different cinematic experience is obvious before the movie's even started, as it is preceded by the RIP (Rodriguez International Pictures) logo and the fake trailer Machete (the other three are not included in the separate cut), starring Danny Trejo: a bona fide B-movie advert, so gloriously OTT the MPAA would never approve it in real life (swearing, nudity and explicit violence: not good). After that, it's straight into the action: some virus turns people into flesh-eating freaks, spreading panic all over the country. While most poor fools get eaten, a small group organizes some kind of resistance. These people include Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan), a former go-go dancer, her ex-boyfriend and martial arts expert El Wray (Freddy Rodriguez), a nurse (Marley Shelton) who is about to leave her husband (Josh Brolin) and a few law enforcers (Michael Parks, playing Earl McGraw for the fourth time, and Michael Biehn). Against them, aside from the zombies, is the military, who for some reason wants to keep the virus around. And as the inevitable final battle approaches, the blood keeps flowing freely.
At first sight, Planet Terror may seem like the lesser of the two Grindhouse halves, mainly because the director, unlike Tarantino who made the separate version of Death Proof longer and better-looking, hasn't modified his segment at all (aside from reinserting half an hour worth of excised material): the scratches and aging signs are still there, and the "missing reel" (a love scene between the two leads) is still missing. But that's probably because Rodriguez, in true B-movie tradition, was more concerned with the style, of which the aging stuff is an integral part. So, while it is undeniable that QT's episode is superior artistically speaking (smarter script, better dialogue, more artful direction), it is equally undeniable that RR, knowing he can't bring anything new to the genre (George Romero and 28 Days Later... have already done it), puts all his energy in the execution (pun not intended) and delivers exactly what the audience demands: from sexy start to gory finish, Planet Terror is a 105-minute long, shamelessly overblown money shot, a picture that dumps all pretensions and sets out to simply entertain.
The focus on blood and guts (and there's plenty of them), however, does not make the film a mere exercise in style, because while he may not be as skilled a writer as his partner, RR manages to deliver some memorable lines (a satirical stab at Bin Laden being the standout) and craft excessive yet immediately likable characters, all played with almost puerile joy by a terrific cast: McGowan, who was killed off immediately in Death Proof, makes up for it here by giving flesh (and what flesh) to one of the toughest babes ever to hit a screen (the image of her with a machine gun instead of her missing leg is already iconic); Freddy Rodriguez, having stolen scenes for five years in Six Feet Under, is completely at ease in the role that should make him an A-lister; Naveen Andrews, best known for playing Sayid on Lost, has the fun of a lifetime shaking off his nice guy image as a testicle-collecting (!) scientist; and finally, people like Bruce Willis and Tarantino (whose part is ten times as crazy and hilarious as his Death Proof cameo) pop up briefly to memorable effect for one simple reason: they just want to have a good time.
A good time: that is all Planet Terror has to offer, no more, no less. And those seeking sheer entertainment, albeit delivered with gusto, should be able to enjoy this riotous adventure, as long as they are able to stomach sequences so insanely violent they make Desperado or Kill Bill look like children's flicks. In other words: this is a damn good "bloodbuster".
I've seen a fairly large segment of this film and don't understand either of the two negative reviews at all. I classed it as a zombie flick and as such found it a good addition to the genre. To say it is the sickest (notice the correct spelling) film ever made shows a complete lack of cinema knowledge to the extent of idiocy. Anyone who has seen any of Rodriquez's previous work will not be in the least bit surprised by anything in this film and will probably enjoy as such. If you like the Horror genre, especially Zombies, which are thankfully making a return to cinema, you will find a special place in your dark and twisted hearts for this. I have and can't wait to see it on the big screen. Makes a refreshing change from the horror pap that's come out of Hollywood in the last decade.
While Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof seems to be a much more authentic
representation of 1970s grindhouse pictures, Robert Rodriguez' Planet
Terror is more of a loving caricature of 1980s zombie splatter films.
Nothing in the film is played straight, and virtually every scene is
accompanied by a wink and a grin at the audience.
If Tarantino's effort is accused of being slow (or deliberately paced, depending on your opinion), Planet Terror never even thinks about slowing down. From the exploitative opening credits through to the final frames of the film, this is a roller coaster ride of a film that doesn't let up.
With Planet Terror, Robert Rodriguez continues his "everything and the kitchen sink" mentality when it comes to his film-making by throwing everything at the wall just to see what sticks. While it sometimes feels like this technique gets in the way of Rodriguez finding a true film-making voice, it works quite well for a film like Planet Terror where there's no room for subtlety.
The cast that Rodriguez assembled is a glorious ensemble of bygone action heroes, horror icons, and Rodriguez stock actors. They all bring their parts to life in a cartoonish sort of way that fits the tone of the movie beautifully.
While the uncut DVD edition of Planet Terror doesn't change the film drastically in any way, it definitely improves the film. It gives the film smoother transitions and fills in some gaps in the plot (though that missing reel is still there and will always remain there as one of the many comical winks at the audience). The large cast of characters are also given more beats here and there that help fill out their personas a little more. All in all, this uncut version simply allows the film to breathe a little more, rather than having to jump frantically from scene to scene in an effort to make the 84 minute running time.
At the end of the day, Planet Terror isn't going to win any awards, and it's certainly not meant to. It's simply an extremely enjoyable guilty pleasure of a film that virtually anyone with the stomach for it can probably have a good time with, especially if you're a horror fan. Take a couple of classic John Carpenter films like The Fog and Escape From New York and throw them into a blender with a couple of classic zombie splatter films like Evil Dead 2 and Dawn of the Dead and you've got a pretty good idea of what Planet Terror is like. And at the end of the day, you could definitely have a worse combination of films to pay loving homage to.
Everyone I know loves this movie, including my Girlfriend. Yes, it has it's gross-out moments, but they are all so over the top that they aren't all that disturbing. The whole movie is supposed to be grimy and cheesy so if you expect a slick Hollywood blockbuster you might be disappointed. If you are a fan of MST3K movies then check this one out. It's an amazing recreation of a movie they'd watch! I mean that as a compliment. I found Death Proof to be slightly Borning until the last 20 minutes. But, in this movie, it's almost all non-stop action! There are also some really funny cuts, dialog and special effects. This movie is not to be taken seriously. Turn down the lights, get some popcorn and enjoy the ride!
For some reason the original double feature movie of Grindhouse
combining Planet Terror with Tarantino's effort was never released in
the UK! Regardless, i was still curious to watch both efforts, and the
first of which I've had the chance to see is Planet Terror.
It's simply about a small town that comes under attack from a virus which when it affects the town-folk makes everyone into zombie like creatures (e.g. attacking others to infect them also, appearances become inhuman etc etc). Add into this mix a Go-Go girl, her ex-boyfriend (an expert at gunslinging), a doctor with a cheating lesbian loving wife-cum-doctor and a bunch of others and you have your pulp fiction movie.
Story wise its crazy but surprisingly its still quite fun. Dialogue isn't too bad, and is very entertaining. The film never really twists but plays along for the action as that's the main gist of the whole thing. Explosions, mass shootings, more explosions, zombie pulverising and even more shooting are the order of the day.
Most importantly this has been filmed in the style of the old b-movies, with grainy pictures and a couple of homages to old b-movie filming (including a comical starting fake preview of a film called "Machete").
Overall, I very much enjoyed it. Switch off and you'll like and enjoy it. Worthy of a good night out.
Planet Terror, before becoming it's own movie-animal of sorts as a
stand-alone feature released in most parts of the world (and on DVD),
was a slightly shorter, near-perfect first part of a double-bill of the
Rodriguez/Tarantino double-feature Grindhouse. Not to sound like I'm in
a rocking chair rambling like it's old times (and it's not even a year
since its North American release), but Grindhouse contained in it two
features that just very simply, quickly tapped into that genuine spirit
of B-movies out there, the art and power of sleaze and trash that might
not be that when done right. And also as a treat, each film showcases,
in all fetishized and stupendous glory, the skills of the respective
filmmakers (this goes as well for the directors of the 'trailers' that
ran between the two films). For Tarantino it's stylized long-shots,
intellectual-cum-vapid dialog, and a penchant for bad-ass ladies and
some sick violence.
For Rodriguez, it's what we've come to see as a sort of mix between his Mariachi films and From Dusk till Dawn: slam-bang action, truly absurd twists with the occasional shock factor (in this case the "accidental" death of a child), and raucous humor from dialog that, in its own right, is probably just as self-consciously clever as QT's. On its own, and in its extended and unrated cut form, as recently watched on DVD, Planet Terror luckily doesn't suffer as much from the added footage as Death Proof nearly did. There isn't some big block of specific scenes stuffed back in from the original cut, however the bits that are noticeable for those who are aware of the original 90 minute version- i.e. waking up at night to see the green-tinted moon, the extra bit at the police station, some extras at the hospital- don't really add much at all to the proceedings to make it any better as it is.
For what it's worth though, to those who will seek it out having not had the luck- as imposed by the what seems to be ironic monacher after the Machete trailer "Brought to you by your friends at the Weinstein Company!"- Planet Terror is a kick-ass, take-no-prisoners zombie flick, filled with enough ballsy attitude for two B-movies that deserve to get immediately dusted off and played to packed audiences of sick f***s who cant get enough of gruesome, over-the-top horror violence and tongue-in--so-deep-it's-breaking-the-cheek dialog. A simple premise is that a noxious gas is let loose by a military group, somehow in some deranged plot involved with a post Bin-Laden atmosphere, and it creates total havoc on a small Texas town over one night. And over this one night a go-go dancer, a crafty but vulnerable nurse, a Chicano who's "got the devil in im'", a BBQ maestro, and some various tag-alongs and police officers bind together to fight the combat the infectious plague.
Made with panache and visual as well as verbal wit (maybe funniest is how a sex scene is so hot it burns up the screen, literally, and when the scene comes back on the place is on fire!), Rodriguez has a nifty little classic of a comedy almost in the guise of an action film inspired by both Fulci and Carpenter (however much better than the former would ever produce). Watch it friends!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
WARNING: I advise anyone who has not seen the film yet to not read this
I must tell all, that in my honest opinion, Planet Terror is one astonishingly magnificent masterpiece. It was wonderfully exciting and filled with great action parts, hilarious tongue-in-cheek humor, and non-stop entertainment. Next to it's sibling, Death Proof, there's no doubt that Planet Terror is the better of the two. Death Proof was great, don't get me wrong, but as for Planet Terror, it was flawless.
There's just more exciting, fun, and catchy scenes and lines in Planet Terror than Death Proof, like when Cherry gets a table leg as a leg to walk on and is stumbling out of the hospital, and later in the car uses the line, "It's splintering", and when she gets her machine gun leg and blasts her way through endless zombies with kick-ass maneuvers. They even manage to bring out a bit of sorrow when Cherry's lover Ray dies, which is hard to find in a movie of this genre. Regardless of which flick you think is better, if you have seen both features of Grindhouse, you must admit that Planet Terror had better action than Death Proof and that the performances were so just a bit more enjoyable, at least, I certainly thought so.
In my honest opinion, this feature is a wonderful movie that could attract just as more attention off by itself than if it was shown in theaters next to Death Proof, which, it was. Planet Terror was spectacular, and I tell this to everyone, if you aren't into great scenes of gore, non-stop action and suspense, and horror/comedy dialogue, you just don't know what you are missing out on if you don't love Planet Terror, especially if you didn't find yourself laughing or being mesmerized at any scene in said film.
Planet Terror is a homage to the trash that used to play at drive-ins
back in the 70s, particularly, its a zombie film. Being a lover of
zombies I was stoked when I sat down to watch it. The movie delivers
everything a fan of the horror-comedy-action genre could want, over the
top action, over the top gore, and at times over the top acting. We
follow a few main characters, all of which are enigmatic and end up
having connections that no one would have seen coming, which reminded
me of the low budget films that used to come out back in the day, where
the director would try to weave in so many subplots the whole thing
becomes silly (and a lot of fun)...
The movie is heavy on gore and there's a ton of beautiful women, therefore its a visually pleasing film to watch, especially with the premature aging effect they use to make the movie seem old.
Another factor I was excited about was Micheal Biehn, I haven't seen him in an action oriented roll in a while and it was good to see him back in action (whatever happened to him anyway?). The plot is fairly simple, a zombie outbreak in which the survivors are the cure for the zombie infection and have to survive.
Its a really fun movie, and is the better half of Grindhouse (Death Proof seemed like a very ODD chick flick). I recommend it highly to anyone who likes zombies...
I reviewed this before as it was put together next to "Death Proof"
(plus a number of inspired trailers for films that don't exist) for the
grand experiment "Grindhouse",and I felt that while I still quite
enjoyed the whole package, this probably should've been broken into
halves to make this a little more viewer friendly (that is,assuming
directors Quentin Tarrantino and Robert Rodriguez were EVER interested
in trying to make a commercial hit out of their opus).
The pulpy,weighted on action tale of a bio-chemical leakage at a rural Texas military outpost that turns people in zombies brings together a variety of disparate locals,among them a hardened and bitingly sardonic stripper (Rose McGowan,who has to work hard to NOT drip sexuality) and her sometime boyfriend and bad-ass fighter (Freddy Rodriguez). Subplots involving a loveless and abusive marriage between wed doctors (MArley Shelton and Josh Brolin) and rival brothers--one a sheriff (Michael Biehn),the other a BBQ rib joint proprietor (Jeff Fahey,who was unrecognizable to me at first)--seem to be padding to build conflict toward a big,bloody,messy,fiery climax,and if there's anyone who understands those kinds of film finishes,it's director Robert Rodriguez,working the usual flourish and flair.
On it's own or added to Tarantino's road menace pic,this is still quite a bit of non-brain-taxing fun!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Okay, this film was supposed to be a parody, but even with that low standard, it could have been better. The whole bit about the machine gun attachment for the one-legged woman was extremely insulting to even the lowest level of intelligence. How could she possibly have pulled the trigger? How?? The thing with the jar of testicles - does this really pass for entertainment in western civilization? This film suffered because it was crude and pandered to the lowest of lowlifes. I'll admit that it had a better take on the "living dead" than most films of this genre. I have to go back to the machine-gun to leg attachment: it may have been the singularly most stupid thing I've seen outside of a Popeye cartoon. By the way, this woman had just gotten her leg amputated earlier in the evening. She sure recovers from surgery quickly - no pain meds, no post-op drowsiness from anesthesia....really stupid; too stupid to be a successful parody.
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