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Overall Rating
4.4

Awesome61.16%
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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Grindhouse
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Lower your expectations a bit."
3 stars

The trailers for grindhouse movies were always better than the films themselves. Sadly, the same is true of 'Grindhouse.'

Directors Robert Rodriguez (Sin City) and Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction) share a deep love for the cheezoid drive-in-and-Times-Square exploitation flicks they devoured as budding movie geeks, and together they have made a three-hour, double-feature monument to their celluloid guilty pleasures. It’s the strangest, biggest, most expensive case of director indulgence ever to open in multiplexes across America. I applaud the idea of it, but in practice the hip, knowing crappiness becomes depressing. Directors talented enough to make such a loving tribute to grindhouse should probably be doing better things with their time.

Rodriguez has apparently always wanted to make a zombie movie in a vague John Carpenter style, and that’s what he does in Planet Terror, sort of. Stuffed with youngsters (heroic Freddy Rodriguez, erotic dancer Rose McGowan, harried doctor Marley Shelton) and grizzled veterans of exploitation (Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey, Michael Parks), the movie has been painstakingly run through a digital wringer to achieve the chewed-up look and stuttering rhythm of a weathered grindhouse can of film. But the illusion is ruined by guest stars such as Bruce Willis and Tarantino himself (as a rapist soldier). Planet Terror is also too ugly conceptually to be any fun — people are always oozing disgusting substances — and it reaches its climax when Rose McGowan receives a machine gun in place of her missing leg, reminding us that the actual grindhouse flicks of old wouldn’t have had the budget to achieve that effect. It feels like something of a cheat; Rodriguez should’ve decided on a bygone year when the movie was supposedly filmed, then held himself to the available technology of the era.

Planet Terror is hectic but unmemorable, and after a few amusing faux trailers (Planet Terror is preceded by Rodriguez’ fake Machete trailer, which packs more legitimate grindhouse punch than the feature that follows), we enter the Tarantinoverse, complete with garrulous, beside-the-point dialogue about movies and scoring weed. Death Proof concerns a stubbly, scarred maniac named Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell), who likes to kill women with his invulnerable car. He meets his match in a trio of spitfires (including Rosario Dawson and Zoe Bell, the stuntwoman profiled in the entertaining documentary Double Dare). The entire segment, which feels much longer than it is, is redeemed somewhat by watching the he-man misogynist killer at the mercy of three tiny women.

Rodriguez and Tarantino already made a fun grindhouse double feature of sorts twelve years ago — From Dusk Till Dawn, which began as a Tarantino-esque crime spree filled with chatty menace and took a hard left into Rodriguez’ playpen of vampires, strippers, and bad-ass Mexicans. For all its movie-geek fervor, Grindhouse remains a private party, an event that was probably more fun to make (and to market) than it is to watch. In these movies’ intentionally two-dimensional reality, there’s little dramatic meat for the actors to chew on; Rose McGowan brings her goth insouciance to her dual roles (she also plays a victim in Death Proof), and Kurt Russell gives Stuntman Mike a hearty malevolence that detours into cowardice, as if he were a boy playing roughly with dolls, and started crying when they bit him.

But grindhouse fare isn’t generally about depth of character, or depth of anything, and Grindhouse is a regression for both Rodriguez, who took his stylistic brio to a new level in Sin City, and, God knows, Tarantino, who is becoming more famous as a voracious movie nerd than as a moviemaker. I don’t speak from an ivory tower, either: my DVD shelves are full of real grindhouse movies, which tend to have a scrappy, low-budget charm — something like Tarantino’s and Rodriguez’ first films, come to think of it — that Grindhouse mostly lacks.

Watching it is a bit like watching slick, high-powered modern comics artists do a tribute to old corny comic books of the ‘30s, or listening to accomplished musicians covering goofy novelty songs from decades ago: We can appreciate the affection and effort that go into the homage, but we’re left wondering whether it was worth doing when the original fun junk is right there to be enjoyed.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=15537&reviewer=416
originally posted: 04/07/07 08:48:24
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User Comments

7/21/14 qifyorbzml USA 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
3/06/08 art IT REALLY MAKES FUN OF THOSE DUMB MIDNIGHT MOVIES OUTSTANDING 4 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
10/13/07 Carlos BEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR BETTE THEN TRANSFORMERS!!!!! 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 greatest.movie.ever. 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
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  06-Apr-2007 (R)
  DVD: 18-Sep-2007

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