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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 brianorndorf

"The most dynamic theatrical experience of the year"
5 stars

Decades ago, grindhouses were squalid downtown movie theaters that catered to social rejects, transients, and the thirsty movie fan who could spend an entire day watching double features of B-films and assorted coming attractions. “Grindhouse” is a resurrection of this long lost exhibition standard, birthed from the vast and well-funded imaginations of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. The two heavyweights of homage have joined forces to recreate the grindhouse experience for today’s safe and restless multiplex culture. The result is a miraculous opportunity to relive past trash cinema glory and cook in the heat of two directors completely in their happy place.

Planet Terror

The event kicks off in a big way with Robert Rodriguez’s “Planet Terror,” the first and only film of “Grindhouse” to lean into the spirit of the past with everything it’s got.

When a biological weapon is released into air turning residents of a small Texas town into bloodthirsty zombies, it’s up to a small band of survivors to fight off this plague of undead. Led by the mysterious Wray (Freddy Rodriguez) and go-go dancer Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan, the unofficial MVP of the two movies), the team has to fight through an endless bloodbath to find refuge.

Degrading his “print” to make it look as though it’s spent some rough years making the rounds in projection booths across America and writing a screenplay laden with gore and violence, Rodriguez takes the mission of “Grindhouse” very seriously.

I can’t think of a better way to start off the double feature than Rodriguez’s splatter/zombie flick. “Planet Terror” has it all: gooey guts, fleshy actresses (Stacey “Fergie” Ferguson and Marley Shelton also appear), go-go dancers with machine guns attached to their severed leg stumps, and enough blood-spattered action to put the stamp of exploitation on the whole endeavor. Rodriguez has come to play with this film, and his enthusiasm is contagious. You simply can’t hate a movie where one of the villains (Naveen Andrews) carries around a souvenir bag of human testicles with him.

Rodriguez is taking his cues from the John Carpenter filmography of the early 1980s, all the way down to the bump...bump...bump...synth-heavy score. It’s a neat rocket back in time to Carpenter’s heyday, and used as a springboard, it permits the filmmaker to explore these zombie roots in less stylized ways than he’s typically known for.

Save for a few winky character rest stops, “Planet Terror” is a free-for-all action fest, but also saves ample room for Rodriguez to horse around with his characters and indulge his endless appetite for absurdity. Most of it is reserved for Cherry, a near-stripper with stand-up comedy aspirations, who later in the film uses the grenade function on her leg-gun to propel herself over a concrete wall, raining bullets down on the bad guys as she descends. Oh my, this film is a hoot.

With missing reels, melted frames, print scratches, and supporting work from grizzled vets such as Michael Parks, Jeff Fahey, Michael Biehn, and legend Tom Savini, “Planet Terror” is a genre apple pie that abuses the potential of the overall double bill premise with the most ease and accessibility. It’s also the finest, most cleanly inspired work Rodriguez has churned out in years.

Death Proof

After feasting on zombies, admiring Rose McGowan mowing down the enemy with her heavily armed leg, and wiping bits of brain off your lap, Quentin Tarantino strolls in to put the brakes on the whole “Grindhouse” experiment.

By day, Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell, in a masterful performance) is a smooth talking bar hound with a weakness for nachos and women. By night, Mike turns into a killer, stalking ladies with his “death proofed” automobile. After an evening of homicide, Mike makes the mistake of carelessly picking his next target: four young women (Rosario Dawson, Zoe Bell, Tracie Thoms, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who know a thing or two about high impact stunt driving.

If “Planet Terror” is constantly in your face, “Death Proof” stays deliberately at an unnerving distance. Tarantino’s tribute is paid to the road rage films of the 1970s, the crowning achievement being Richard Sarafian’s scrappy “Vanishing Point.” However, instead of being straight-up about his fandom, Tarantino has decided to attack the backwoods demolition derby theme through his specialty: salty, rolling fields of dialogue.

The characters talk in “Death Proof,” and talk, and talk some more. This is the most verbose piece of writing the filmmaker has ever attempted to photograph, and stuck in a film like “Grindhouse” it’s tough to understand what Tarantino is after here with his endless pages of banter and monologues. After inhaling pixy sticks with Rodriguez’s offering, Tarantino’s film is a slow boil (and very lenient with the fake print damage and other cosmetic roughing up), which, at first, upsets the flow of “Grindhouse.” Where’s the mayhem? The sleaze? Well, it takes time to arrive at those points of satisfaction.

At first, “Death Proof” is a lazy ditty drinking in the sights and pints of Austin, Texas. Only after a meticulous set-up does murder start to occur. Next, we meet the fated foursome who dare to live out their gearhead dreams. Here, Tarantino’s script goes into a dialogue coma; each actress getting their fair share of speeches and reactions, eating up a full 30 minutes of the feature. Finally we arrive at the money shot: the full-on, go-for-broke car chase between Stuntman Mike and his agitated pursuers.

It’s a strange mix to explain and even more bizarre to watch unfold. Tarantino, being the ace filmmaker he is, works the audience like the puppet, lulling the viewer into a state of peace before unleashing not one, but two incredible, booming sequences of vehicular dynamite, the last culminating in a 20-minute-long chase that pitches horror and laughs at the same speed. The payoff for such patience is that Tarantino has slapped on an ending that needs to be seen to be believed.

“Death Proof,” unlike the title suggests, is not as ominous as one might expect. It works best on a brain soft from the “Grindhouse” experience; a body weary from sitting for three hours and hungry for that final kick in the jaw. Even if it takes an eternity to get there, Tarantino saves his masterstrokes for the finale, sending the audience out with a cheer and in a fit of giggles.

Shown during the intermission and before “Planet Terror” is an assortment of faux theatrical trailers, some promoting a future “Grindhouse” idea, while the others are simply wild tangents of imagination that should never see the light of day. Coming from Eli Roth (the lame serial killer send-up “Thanksgiving”), Edgar Wright (the flashy, Argentoesque “Don’t!”), Rodriguez (the day laborer action carnival “Machete”), and Rob Zombie (a question mark with “Werewolf Women of the S.S.”), the trailers are the cherries on top of this celluloid sundae. They add the perfect dash of immersion to this already flaming piece of indulgence, and I’m thrilled the filmmakers put in the effort. The intermission is actually the worst time to make a break for the bathroom. Save that for the second act of “Death Proof.”

Wrapped up neatly in a 185-minute bow, “Grindhouse” is as pure a theatrical experience as they could possibly make in today’s in-and-get-out marketplace. It’s a heavily stylized, volatile, atomic sensory shockwave that is so hip and ice cool, you’ll need to visit MySpace just to bring your overall awesome back down to a manageable level.

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originally posted: 04/06/07 02:29:15
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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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