The biggest irony about watching Grindhouse is that you need to get into the culture of it –and it’s culture is the kind of films that were made on the lack thereof. But we digress. This back to back features two films made by two amazing directors who certainly know their way with the camera, and delivers some of the mose ambitiously ridiculous scenes to have ever hit the silver screen –not for the scope or expense of the shot, but the sheer fact that no major movie studio would actually think those scenes should have been done in the first place. Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino get absolute free reign to film whatever they want, and Grindhouse is what we get.
What is Grindhouse?
Grindhouse, in itself, is not the title of any particular movie, it is a back to back collaboration between two directors and is composed mainly of two movies: Planet Terror and Death Proof. The idea behind Grindhouse is that the directors are trying to recreate the experience of watching those obscure little films that only got shown on limited theaters –and by limited, we meant the ones with broken projectors, sticky floors, and highly questionable sanitation. So this is more than just seeing two movies, but also everything in between (there are even fake trailers for fake movies –fully recreating the experience of being in some squalid cinema from years past).
Death Proof and Planet Terror
Death Proof is a film made by Quentin Tarantino, and casts Kurt Russell as the antagonist –Stuntman Mike. Mike drives as beefed up muscle car and calls it death proof –you can’t die when you ride it, as long as you’re sitting in the driver’s seat. Mainly, he uses the car to brutally kill people on the roads –and does so within the opening minutes of the film. But when he decides to target an unsuspecting group of twenty-something girls, he is surprised that they decide to fight back.
Planet Terror is a massively fun filled, action packed ride with former Charmed actress Rose McGowan in the lead role of Cherry Darling. When a military deal goes bad an a deadly gas is released into a town, those who were exposed turn into crazy, zombie-like creatures known as sickos. Cherry is caught by sickos and her leg is brutally torn off. Instead of letting this incident defeat her, she decides to fight back and her leg is fitted with a new prosthetic: an M4 Carbine modded with a M203 Grenade Launcher. With her new leg and the determination defeat all the obstacles before her, Cherry works together with other survivors to fight against the sickos.
Let’s Talk About the Films
Grindhouse starts out with a few fake trailers, Planet Terror, more trailers, then Death Proof. While there is a lot of content there, the real core of the show are the two films. Death Proof is your typical QT formula: a good bit of action to chew on, then a whole lot of talking that runs on for too long, slow building of tension, and finally a last bit of action crammed into the last act of the movie. While this is pretty much expected of Tarantino, it is a bit of a waste since the whole point of Grindhouse was so that he could cut loose. Still, it was a pretty entertaining to see Kurt Russell do some real action on screen once again.
Planet Terror is exactly the kind of film that it sounds like and it is hard not to love. Rose takes on her role as Cherry with amazing skill –a far cry from her more tame appearance as a charmed one. The entire movie is a riot to watch, with Bruce Willis spouting campy dialogue as a military leader to seeing Quentin Tarantino cameo as a rapist (gotta love Rodriguez for that). This is a zombie film you do no watch for the scares (it isn’t scary at all), but you do watch it for the gore, the fan service, and the awesome zombie kills that Cherry Darling starts performing once she gets her special leg.
Is It Good?
Obviously, Grindhouse is best appreciated by the people who grew on the old concept of double features, stale popcorn, and absurdly cheap movie tickets. But you do not need to have experience that in life to enjoy the movies. If you are a fan of either of the two directors, then seeing these films is going to be a great experience since the movies manage to capture the essence of the people who created them. The acting is absurdly hammy and the films are campy –but that was done in a deliberate manner that does justice to the whole thing.