Rodriguez, Tarantino film impresses duo
April 12, 2007
“Grindhouse” is a gloriously violent and unabashedly sleazy three-hour love letter to exploitation cinema, penned by none other than directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. While it’s arguable that the movies they’ve both made emphasize style over substance, it’s a job these guys do very well, and “Grindhouse” is no exception.
“Grindhouse” is comprised of two feature-length films made to look straight out of a ‘70s movie house, complete with scratches and missing reels to give the flicks a real wear-andtear feeling. Robert Rodriguez’ “Planet Terror” is an apocalyptic tale of puss-oozing zombies, the result of biochemical weaponry gone out of control, taking over a Texas town, leaving such unlikely heroes as go-go dancer/aspiring comedian Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan) and her butt-kicking ex-boyfriend Wray (Freddy Rodriguez) to save the day. Quentin Tarantino wraps up the double feature with “Death Proof,” a sort of “Friday the 13th”-on-wheels story of a man known only as Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell), stalking and killing sexy young women in his souped-up, “death-proof” stunt car. Scattered throughout “Grindouse” also are fake trailers to “coming attractions,” including Rob Zombie’s “Werewolf Women of the S.S.” (featuring Nicolas Cage as no less than Fu Manchu).
It’s not often that I get to say this without sounding like quote-happy critic, but “Grindhouse” truly is more of an experience than it is an actual movie. Those expecting a typical jaunt to the multiplex will be thrown for a loop once Rodriguez and Tarantino open wide their bag of tricks. You don’t have to be familiar with the “Grindhouse” style to fully enjoy the movie as a whole, but it helps to be in on the joke, to realize from the beginning these guys are resurrecting an era of cinema that stood for pretty much the exact opposite of everything that “safe” Hollywood fare was.
“Planet Terror” stands out as the better half of the double feature, a gore-soaked, actionpacked horror flick that feels like it took the shuffling zombies of George A. Romero and threw in the heavy artillery of John Carpenter. It’s basically a zombified version of Rodriguez’ own horror/actioner “From Dusk Till Dawn,” only with an even quirkier set of characters, an amped-up violence factor, and an even greater tendency to throw realism to the four winds (one look at McGowan’s gun leg should make this very obvious).
“Death Proof,” on the other hand, is a talky mess that almost completely detracts from the “Grindhouse” experience. Tarantino’s premise is an intriguing one and Russell does a fine job of projecting menace as the ruthless Stuntman Mike. But Tarantino mostly shows extremely attractive starlets trying to gain the audience’s sympathy with droning monologues about their vain existences, only to meet the business end of Stuntman Mike’s deathmobile without so much as a flinch from the viewers.
Though only one half of “Grindhouse” is truly a blast, the whole she-bang is worth checking out for the presentation alone. Part movie and part journey into pure exploitation, “Grindhouse” is a flick that you won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
A.J. Hakari is a student at UW-River Falls.