So, no, it is not MY "grindhouse" I write of today but the MOVIE Grindhouse which is now being shown in theatres nationwide. If you are not aware of it, it is a double-feature with movies written and directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarentino. Both films pay homage to the bad B movies of the 70s that studios seemed to crank (or "Grind") out one after the other paying little attention to quality. This lack of attention to quality, seemingly, had little effect on the films popularity as audiences flocked to see them, filling the theatres and drive-ins. The movies were exploitation films mostly centering on horror and breasts. Really, when you think about it, what's NOT to love? And. apparently, Rodriguez and Tarentino were huge fans of the genre. And with these two magnificent films, and the absolutely brilliant fake trailers filling the gap between them, Rodriguez and Tarentino have payed brilliant homage, indeed! All told you spend over three hours in the theatre and it was three of the most fun hours I've had in months!
Rodriguez's feature is "Planet Terror" and is an absolute HOOT! Zombies, scheming scoundrels, hot babes (one with a machine gun for a friggin' leg!), tough heroes, and action, action, action! I had never realized just how sexy Rose McGowan was before this movie...maybe it was the Howitzer prosthetic? I guess I've discovered my bizarre fetish after all these years. Who knew?
"Planet Terror" is a pretty standard story as all those "Grindhouse" films tended to be. The acting is heavy-handed, cheesey and over-the-top. The effects gross for the sake of grossness and the ending predictable. And the film skips, stutters and is poorly edited (there's an entire sequence missing right in the middle of the hot sex scene for God's sake!). And that's what makes the film so brilliant! It's all done intentionally. And you might ask yourself, "Why make a bad movie on purpose?" And that's a fair question. The reason is because they made this "bad" movie so damn good! Ingenius, really. I am jealous. Rodriguez found actors so good at acting bad you are in awe. Bad actors could not have pulled this off! I know it sounds confusing but you gotta trust me. This film is just so fun to watch.
The Tarentino film, "DEATH PROOF," pays homage to all those "car" films which were so popular in the 70s. Long car chases with plenty of violence and mayhem. And sexy women of course. This film is not as good as the Rodriguez film but fun, nonetheless. The only problem I had with this feature was it was about 20 minutes too long and Tarentino chose to use an actual stuntwoman playing herself (maybe two, I'm not sure) who, quite simply, didn't act very well. I know, I know, they're supposed to be "bad" right? No. They're supposed to ACT bad on purpose...there's a difference. This stuntwoman was just bad. Her delivery was stiff and forced. And the dialogue between the two groups of women was also a bit forced and contrived. Not the usual "spot on" dialogue Tarentino writes and his audiences have come to expect. These conversations, quite simply, ran too long and were so riddled with the "F" word that they became tedious and annoying. I DO NOT need to hear the typical rage-filled stereotype of a black woman say motherf***er 30 times. And that's between her saying F*** about 100 times. It got trite and I expect better from Quentin. There were points in the film where you sat there thinking, "alright already, enough!" because the conversations went nowhere--they added nothing.
In the past he's been the "master" of the trivial conversations that take place between his characters (think Travolta and Jackson discussing cheeseburgers in France) making these, seemingly, unimportant discussions amusing, entertaining and a smart device to humanize his characters and give them depth. In this film the conversations do little of this, adding nothing more to this film than 20 minutes of unnecessary "filler" to make the movie come in at "full-length feature" status. 20 minutes too long.
That being said, Kurt Russell is the gem in this film! He plays the best scoundrel you "love to hate" that I've seen in years--maybe decades. You can tell he had a lot of fun playing this role. I won't give away too much here but I've read reviews that say the "audiences stand up and cheer at the ending!" I didn't stand up but I did cheer! And I laughed my butt off.
So, I give Planet Terror an "A", Death Proof a B, and the trailers an "A+!"
Definitely go and see this double-feature now before it's out of the theatres! There's talk of the studio splitting the films up and playing them seperately since ticket sales have been more sluggish than they anticipated. Go! NOW!