Movies / Movie Reviews


By Mitch Emerson
April 25, 2007 - 08:23

Title: Grindhouse
Starring: Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Josh Brolin, Marley Shelton, Kurt Russell, Zoe Bell, Rosario Dawson
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez
Produced By: Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Sandra Condito
Genre: Action/Adventure, Suspense/Horror and Thriller
Release Date: April 6th, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for strong graphic bloody violence and gore, pervasive language, some sexuality, nudity and drug use.
Distributors: Dimension Films

In "Death Proof," a psycho named Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) stalks and kills beautiful women with his car. In "Planet Terror," a small-town sheriffs' department has to deal with an outbreak of murderous, infected people called "sickos." A gun-legged woman named Cherry (Rose McGowan) and her martial arts-wielding partner (Freddy Rodriguez) take on the zombie army. The two films will be fused together by fake movie trailers by directors Rob Zombie, Eli Roth, Robert Rodriguez and Edgar Wright.

Let's start from the beginning. As I sat down to watch the cheesy goodness that is Grindhouse, I had both high and low expectations. High because this is a film by two of the best and cutting edge directors that Hollywood has seen in a long time and they both have some great movies under their belts. Tarantino with Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill. Rodriguez with the Mariachi trilogy and Sin City. Low because of the subject matter: 70's grindhouse and exploitation flicks. Being a child of the 80's and 90's I have no prior experience of these types of films. The closest I can claim is a horror double feature on Saturday afternoons on WKBD 20 (Detroit). So I cannot compare this film to those, which may give my review a different tone than some of the others that are out there. So let's get to the meat of the review. I enjoyed Grindhouse to no end. A little long, clocking in at 3 ½ hours, but otherwise an almost perfect way to spend an afternoon.

Machete – One of four fake trailers directed by guest directors. This one was by Robert Rodriguez himself. Rodriguez regular Danny Trejo is Machete, one Mexican you don't want to f**k with. With Cheech Marin as a shotgun weilding priest, these two are going to clean up the town. Rumored to be an actual direct to video movie by Rodriguez, Machete was a fun little take on the revenge picture.

Planet Terror – Beginning with the best opening credit scene ever to be put on celluloid (Rose McGowan go-go dancing for 3-4 minutes) Planet Terror is filled with over the top acting, blood, gore and comedy with characters that you find yourself caring more than you would expect. For instance, two brothers (Michael Biehn and Jeff Fahey) who have been having a feud over a BBQ recipe for years finally reconcile at the end. Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan) wants to be a stand up comedian but thinks that can never happen after losing her leg. Get it? Stand up comedian? Ha ha! Don't let that fool you though, Planet Terror doesn't slouch in the gore department either. Just a few choice bits include a brainless Fergie (yay!), head shots, popping pustules, dripping genitals and decapitation by helicopter. Rodriguez has made a zombie movie that encompasses everything that I love about horror. With missing reels, dust, dirt, scratches and hair in the film, Planet Terror is a throwback to a much different era of horror. Planet Terror feels like it could be the precursor to the style that dominated horror in the 80's while still thinking that it is a “serious” horror film. My personal favorite of the two.

Intermission – The other three fake trailers were presented between features. Werewolf Women of the S.S is Rob Zombie's addition. While it was cut together a little to quickly for my taste it looks like it could be an interesting concept. The best part – Nicolas Cage as Fu Manchu. Now that made me choke on my Pepsi. Don't – yes that was a name of a trailer and a lame one to boot. Thanksgiving – Eli Roth's spoof of Holiday themed horror with a few extremely inappropriate kills that would never have been in an 80's flick.

Death Proof – While Planet Terror spoofed horror, Tarentino's Death Proof spoofs the car thriller. Not being a big fan of the genre I can only spout off Christine and Duel as well as the Smokey and The Bandit movies as any kind of comparison. Which isn't really a comparison at all so never mind. Anyways, Death Proof is a little more flawed due to some irreverent and overlong dialogue that supposedly serves to flesh out some of the characters but is really pointless since they die in the next scene anyways. Albeit a kick ass death scene that we get to see four times, so we can see how each passenger in the car buys it extremely gruesome detail. It just seemed that Tarentino forgot that he was making a grindhouse film and started making a Tarentino film instead. I mean, even with all the extemporaneous dialogue and character building, you still don't care about these girls. But, once the tires get rolling in the third act, look out! You are in for one hell of a car chase. This next batch of would be victims aren't slouches and turn the tables on Stuntman Mike. Chasing him down and giving him a healthy dose of his own medicine.

I neglected to talk about the cast in order to address them here. Everybody is perfectly cast. From Planet Terror you get Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Marley Shelton, Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey, Tom Savini, Josh Brolin, Bruce Willis, Carlos Gallardo, Fergie and Naveen Andrews. Rose proves that she is one of the sexiest women alive. Fergie proves she's brainless, Freddy Rodriguez proves that he can be a bad ass, Biehn shows that he has a sense of humor and Fahey just does his thing. Death Proof brings us Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Sydney Poitier, Tracie Thoms, Michael Parks, and Vanessa Ferlito. Russell shows that he can still be a mean dude. What I like about Stuntman Mike is that you don't know why he is doing these things. I actually liked him when we first meet him. Russell plays him as a normal guy, which is strange because I thought that grindhouse movie villains were the precursor to the 80's slasher flicks. Tarentino slipping off the track again. The three would be victims, Zoe Bell, Rosario Dawson and Tracie Thoms continue the underlying theme of strong women that began with Rose McGowan's Cherry Darling. The stand out is Zoe Bell, who plays herself. Once Death Proof gets rolling and she does what she does best, the tension just keeps getting cranked up and doesn't stop. If Tarentino would have cut out half of the dialogue and added another group of victims, Death Proof would be damn near perfect.

There is a rumor that the Weinstein company is going to split the two movies up and re-release them as stand alone films. While that may be a good idea, it means that you may have a short time in which to enjoy Grindhouse as it was originally intended. So go see it now! You may see me there as I will definitely catch this one again before it leaves theaters.

Until I get Rose McGowan,
keep reading

Mitch E.

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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