The appearance of Bruce Willis in a minor role is a subtle nod to an old marketing trick often employed by Grindhouse makers. They would contract a big-name movie star to appear in their movie for one day, for a few frontal shots only, while the rest of the scenes were done with a double filmed from the back. A picture of the big star would then be placed prominently on the movie's poster in order to boost sales. (Example: Bruce Willis' character of Lieutenant Muldoon is never in the same frame with the other actors, indicating that all of his scenes were filmed separately.)
In the scene in the hospital when Dakota is called on by her husband Dr. Bill Block to bring the needles there is a brief shot of her notepad which reads: "To do / Cereal for Tony / Crickets for Tony's pets / Kill Bill" - the latter of course a reference to Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" films.
Robert Rodriguez first came up with the idea for Planet Terror while making The Faculty (1998). He told Elijah Wood and Josh Hartnett that zombie movies were about to come back in a major way. He wanted to be there first when it happened so he prepared a script. But he only got as far as 30 pages before he got stuck for ideas. And when he got attached to other projects, the zombie craze happened just as he predicted. Rodriguez later commented, "I knew I should've made my zombie movie."
Skip Reissig, who plays strip-club owner Skip, isn't an actor but is actually Robert Rodriguez's real-estate agent. Rodriguez thought he'd be perfect for the part of the brusque, no-nonsense, tough-talking strip-club owner because, as Rodriguez says, "That's the way he really is."
The scene where Dakota jumps out of the window and lands on top of the trash cans was filmed twice, the first shot had a stunt double falling onto a crash mat from the original height and the second had her falling onto the trash cans from a scaffolding at a lower height. A car driving by was put in to disguise the switch.
Cameo: Zöe Bell as a zombie feasting on a paramedic. She appears in both Death Proof (2007), and this film, and is one of the small group of actors and actresses to be part of both Planet Terror and the Death Proof world. The others are Rose McGowan, Marley Shelton, Michael Parks, "The Twins" and Quentin Tarantino.
Wray's name is revealed to be "El Wray", a likely reference to surf guitar legend Link Wray whose songs were featured in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1994) and Robert Rodriguez's Desperado (1995). Link Wray's first name is also Frederick. "El Wray" and El Rey, are homonyms: meaning that they are words that sound the same but mean something else. El Rey is the name of Robert Rodriguez's own television network. It means "king" in Spanish.
When Wray is first introduced, he asks the owner of the Bone Shack for a pack of cigarettes. The brand he is handed, "Red Apple," is the same brand that Bruce Willis' character, Butch Coolidge, is handed in Marsellus Wallace's bar in Pulp Fiction (1994). This is perhaps a nod to the much noted friendship between Tarantino and Rodriguez.
John Carpenter, who composes the scores to his own films, was originally chosen to compose the score to Planet Terror. Robert Rodriguez ended up taking over the job as composer instead, though excerpts from Carpenter's Escape from New York (1981) score would appear throughout the film.
Michael Parks reprises his character as Sheriff Earl McGraw in Planet Terror (2007). He also played Sheriff Earl McGraw in Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), as well as Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003), and Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Partly to avoid traumatizing Rebel Rodriguez with knowledge of his disturbing death scene, Robert Rodriguez shot several scenes with Tony surviving all the way to the end of the movie. Some of this is seen on the DVD, but apparently the only complete edit with this footage is a private copy of the Rodriguez family's.
Robert Rodriguez found the scene where Dr. Dakota Block leaves 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".
When asked about the ending, Robert Rodriguez said "I consider it an anti- Army of Darkness (1992) like ending. In 'Army of Darkness', Ash is returned to normal suburbia and battles the Undead. In my film, Planet Terror (2007), the characters are taken out of suburbia and now battle the undead in a more barren landscape."
In the scene, at the beginning of the movie, in the strip club, Cherry is zipping up the boot of her right leg when she says "I need a dramatic change in my life". Her right leg is also the same leg which is later amputated.
Planet Terror is also the second film in which both Freddy Rodriguez and Stacy Ferguson, a.k.a. Fergie, appear, but not together in the same scene. The first film was Wolfgang Petersen's Poseidon (2006). Just as in Poseidon, both characters died violently.