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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 25.62%
Average: 7.44%
Pretty Bad: 3.31%
Total Crap: 2.48%

9 reviews, 67 user ratings

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by Jason Whyte

"Tarantino and Rodriguez in one hell of an audacious work."
5 stars

Now here’s something interesting to mull over. It’s Monday morning, I’m sitting down the weekend after I partook in my long-awaited screening of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’ “Grindhouse”. I just opened up the box office numbers for the weekend. Now, you’d think with the fanbase of both directors would easily bring in a nice bit of money. I know my $8.25 is in there somewhere.

I normally don’t bring up box office numbers in a review because half the time I really don’t care, but the film’s shocking lack of money intake this weekend (barely scratching over $11 million dollars, coming up short of half of the second weekend take of “Blades of Glory”) coming in only fuels my confirmation that today’s audiences want “easy” films and something about this put them off. Anything that involves an iota of work, that is in any way complex or, god forbid, SUBTITLED, is immediately ignored. The film’s subject matter must be SO clearly explained to you; otherwise you’ve completely abandoned your audience. How else to explain how the year’s saddest and ugliest film, “Wild Hogs”, is nearing $150 million dollars?

It’s a shame, because “Grindhouse” is among the most fun three hours I’ve had in a cinema in quite some time. What’s brilliant about the film is how it accesses anyone who is really into cinema and it respects the viewer. The film is inviting you into the idea of paying tribute to an unforgettable era of cinema. If you’re one of those people who stay up until 4am watching movies, or whine endlessly on movie site forums (or our own Bitchslap forums, for that matter) about the state of cinema today, or if you go to the cinema at least once a week, this faux-double bill is right up your alley.

So what makes it all so special? Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have grown up watching many memorable schlock B-movies, many of which screened in former palace cinemas or old single-screeners that still run. If you’ve seen the Tarantino-scripted “True Romance”, you may remember that Clarence went to one of these in Detroit to watch a Sonny Chiba triple feature (“Street Fighter, Return of the Street Fighter and SISTER Street Fighter!,” Clarence beams to a date at a bar). Many of the films were cheaply released by companies like American International or produced by such folk as good ‘ol Roger Corman. From all of this, the filmmakers have put together a throw-back film to this era, bringing in a bit of new technology and paying tribute to all things old. And I couldn’t be any happier about it.

“Planet Terror”, the first film on the bill, is a big ball of slimy fun; a dirty and scratched up zombie fiasco that involves an army operation that lets loose an epidemic that turns everyone into gooey monsters. Rose McGowan plays a woman who has had her leg gnawed off, and I think you all know by now that it gets replaced with a very convenient machine gun. It helps, and her boyfriend (Freddy Rodriguez, so wonderful here; he really gets the style of the film and disappears right into the part) gave her the gun too. What people do for love!

The less you know, the more. There are wacky characters and philosophies that only exist in this kind of movie and they are a far cry from the sensibilities of today. Not to mention a lot of aggressive gore and effects work that is a signature of the time. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

“Death Proof” is a new masterpiece by Quentin Tarantino. It’s a dynamic shift from the first film, but I embraced that as I don’t think I could take three hours of the exact same thing. Already I have been reading complaints that “Death” is nowhere near as fun as the zombie picture (all these characters do is talk!), and I have to wonder if these people have seen a Tarantino film before? The characters talk! And they talk some more, in all brilliantly excuted, perfectly timed, referential dialogue that is among his very best work.

The story surrounds young, gorgeous women in Austin, Texas (and having visited there recently, I can confirm this) who are into life. A group of women find themselves at a local watering hole and meet Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) who is a bit aged, but still a good looking guy and eagerly polite to everyone that comes across them. But there’s just something not right about him, and after a missing reel and taking out another girl (Rose McGowan again) for a ride, we discover why.

Suddenly, we meet another group of young women, most of them involved in the film business by way of stunt work, and we get to meet these gals through the art of Tarantino’s conversation. Coming off of the insanity of “Planet Terror”, this appears at first to be Tarkovsky in comparison, but stick with it; the idealism and quirkiness of this dialogue is necessary to bring us to one of the greatest car chases in the history of cinema.

Yes, it’s that good. Zoe Bell, a lovely young stuntwoman who is an absolute, radiant find in this movie (she plays a character named Zoe, for Pete’s sake!), finds herself wanting to get a Dodge and strap herself to the hood of the car for a kick-ass stunt. It’s a Zoe thing, you see, and what follows is a car chase so inexplicably amazing in the fact that nary any computer graphics or trickery to be found. She’s really strapped to that car, she has very little support but the grip of her hands, and she’s really doing the stunt. Not to mention looking absolutely great while doing it!

From both films, I preferred “Death Proof” by a long shot because I’m a writer, Tarantino is a huge influence and everything that makes him a great filmmaker is in full evidence here. Don’t get me wrong, “Planet Terror” has its great moments and I enjoyed it very much, yet like many of Rodriguez’ other films, his timing is off quite a bit. My friend at our screening summed it up best. “”Planet Terror” is homage. “Death Proof” is a real movie.” A blast of homage and one heck of a great film to back it up, I’d add, but he’s right either way.

As has been widely reported, the filmmakers have intentionally aged their films to give the impression that you’re in a weird time-warp in the 70’s, watching badly scratched film with missing footage. “Planet Terror” is the most scratched up of the bunch, with a lot of scratches, base lines, emulsion burns, bad splices and shots where the film nearly looks like it’s going to fall out of the projector. You have to really take a lot of this as a spoof and a grain of salt as a lot of it isn’t realistic to film handling (I’ve had my experience!). But the effect, which is so audacious and will be understood primarily the true film-geeks, projectionists at and knowledgeable cinema managers absolutely works, and it is pretty easy to just go with it.

You probably also know about those “fake trailers” that are spliced (badly) into the double feature. Featuring work by Rodriguez, Edgar Wright, Rob Zombie and Eli Roth, the trailers defy description and are even more wonderful due to the poor quality and bad splices that come with it. I could watch two hours of schlocky trailers; and if you live in Austin, Texas, where the movie was filmed, you pretty much have the ability to; just head on down to any Alamo Drafthouse (nicely shown in an early shot of “Death Proof” and proudly advertised by Jordan Ladd’s “Badass Cinema” shirt in the same film) location and watch their pre-show. It’s worth it.

If you like the experience of film and filmgoing, “Grindhouse” is for you. It’s the best kind of a good night out at the movies and is a love letter to cinema and its fans. Even if you’re mildly curious and thinking of whether to see this or “Blades of Glory”, forget Will Ferrell for one weekend and go to this double feature instead. Help pad out that box office and you’ll thank me later. Let’s show the bean counters that we enjoy using a few nuggets of intellect to enjoy something. (It’s not THAT hard to THINK even after a hard week of work, is it?) And yes, you may argue to me that its three hours long, but I’d counter to say that its three hours short.

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originally posted: 04/10/07 14:59:32
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell long but fun 4 stars
4/16/14 Charles Tatum Rodriquez gets in the spirit, but QT's is so boring. 4 stars
12/26/12 J. Van Buren death proof does seem a little dry the first time but gets better with repeated viewings. 4 stars
8/30/12 roscoe planet terror is fairly good. death proof sucked ass 3 stars
4/04/12 Jason Coffman 5 stars for the full theatrical experience! 5 stars
9/26/10 art only good thing in 'GRINDHOUSE" was ROSE MCGOWAN"S exotic dancer! 2 stars
3/15/10 matt planet terror is flawless action comedy. death proof was long but enjoyable, underrated imo 5 stars
1/25/10 Chad Dillon Cooper 70's style double feature for a generation that doesn't know what that is. 5 stars
12/01/09 Cutter blah blah boring tripe 2 stars
6/27/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess It's almost like a double feature DVD from Something Weird Video, but as one movie! 4 stars
5/05/09 Kike Sosa Now every single car chase I see WILL suck! 4 stars
9/26/08 Shaun Wallner I really enjoyed this film. 5 stars
5/18/08 jm Why did the second half of each film suck? 4 stars
4/14/08 Mike Has funny moments, has disgusting moments. Both can do a lot better. 2 stars
3/25/08 Isaac M. Baranoff Loved it. They should make one of these every year. 5 stars
3/10/08 Jayme Isaacs I Really Liked This Movie 5 stars
11/12/07 Alec Original, clever, and often hilarous - I liked this movie 5 stars
10/28/07 Jonathan The shot in the arm movies have needed for far too long. 5 stars
9/20/07 Johnnyfaye hahaha what fun, if you didn't like the movie, you knew what you were getting into.WhydidUg 4 stars
9/10/07 Doug Best movie of the year!I vote for "Machete" and "Thanksgiving" for the next double feature! 5 stars
8/31/07 scotty The Best Movie of the Year!! 5 stars
7/30/07 Louise Saw Death Proof - good stuff, just dragged in the middle when dialogue went on too long 4 stars
7/22/07 Don Paco Only saw Death Proof - and it fucking rocked. 5 stars
7/04/07 Booksworm Veritas is right.Rodriguez should make"Machete".(Of course,I'd likely watch"Thanksgiving".) 5 stars
7/03/07 William Goss Sloppy homage-tacular proves to be great fun in distinctly different manners. 5 stars
6/21/07 Alice only saw DP (europe).GO TARANTINO GO!!! HE DID IT AGAIN ! 5 stars
6/20/07 caiphn I really liked Death Proof. Planet Terror was good too. 5 stars
6/15/07 Anthony G Best movie of the year so far. Just shows that box office doesn't mean shit. 5 stars
6/10/07 Danielle Ophelia Entered the theater a skeptic, left a total believer. 5 stars
5/16/07 matt Sick, demented fun. Planet Terror kicked so much ass... 5 stars
5/11/07 chris. you call this cheap porn? the sections with the porn were lost! noooooo 5 stars
5/08/07 Itsgonnarock Amazing start to finish can't wait till the missing reels are added in the dvd 5 stars
5/04/07 Boaby Digital Won't work for everyone but if you like a tongue in cheek romp, it's a blast! 5 stars
5/03/07 Wesley Death Proof is good, with one of the best car chases ever, but Planet Terror stomps it. 5 stars
5/02/07 Veritas One almost wishes that this "Grindhouse" trend would continue.(Like with Machete?) 5 stars
4/23/07 Zaw Somepeople just don't get it please wikipedia GrindHouse. 5 stars
4/20/07 VInce Planet Terror was awesome, Death Proof was OK. 5 stars
4/20/07 Lauren you have to go see it! 5 stars
4/16/07 Wayne machine gun leg, Death Proof dialog, 3+ hours, etc.... oh the humanity, it was REALLY bad! 1 stars
4/16/07 Dragula Just plain BAD 1 stars
4/16/07 Bob G. The most fun I have had at the movies in years!!!! 5 stars
4/16/07 Steve Loved it, didn't seem as long as it was. 5 stars
4/16/07 msxanax 5 stars
4/16/07 Reesefire Black How much do you wanna bet that Indrid Cold's gonna pan this? 5 stars
4/15/07 lakemiss took way too much time ..not worth it 1 stars
4/15/07 mr. mike just didn't work for me 2 stars
4/14/07 Shaman 3 words for Tarantino- "Just SHUT UP"!! Other than that, it was great! 4 stars
4/13/07 Alex I actually liked Planet Terror more than DeathProof, but I thought both were great. 4 stars
4/12/07 Miss Lady I let my 15 yr old son talk me into seeing what I thought was carp! It was awesome, 5 stars
4/12/07 3Y03 The best movie I've seen this year. The trailors are ingenious. 5 stars
4/12/07 Anthony G AWESOME. See this movie, period. 5 stars
4/10/07 Jeff. Three words. Go, See and It! 5 stars
4/10/07 John Totally laugh out loud hilarious 5 stars
4/10/07 RazorFang Planet Terror had more action and violence;Death proof had better acting and plot. 5 stars
4/10/07 gulembo cabrón! 4 stars
4/10/07 Darren Shea Extremely self-indulgent, but almost as much fun to watch as it probably was to make. 5 stars
4/09/07 BrianWilly Oh SO VERY AWESOME 5 stars
4/09/07 dbx PT - great film, totally fun. DP - AWESOME. outstanding. inspiring 5 stars
4/09/07 Stacy Planet Terror -- great. Death Proof -- boring for an hour, then awesome. 4 stars
4/09/07 m-dude Unbelievably geuniusly rediculous and one of the best movies ive ever seen 5 stars
4/08/07 Sully I'm gonna call a couple a hard, pipe-hittin' grrrls to go to work on the homes here 5 stars
4/08/07 Eric P. Thrilling and amazing. 5 stars
4/07/07 malcolm ridiculous but fun 3 stars
4/07/07 Ole Man Bourbon Death P'-awesome, but no 2nd act. Planet T'-meh. Kurt is great for QT. No int'msn fwiw. 5 stars
4/07/07 the wizz i came in to this expecting nothing but some cheap porn, i wasn' diappointed! 3 stars
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  06-Apr-2007 (R)
  DVD: 18-Sep-2007



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