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Movie Review: Grindhouse

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In the simplest of terms, Grindhouse is unadulterated homage to the exploitation flicks of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s.  The production packs campy gore, cheesy dialogue, boobs, and blood—into an inventive double feature from the minds of two fan-favorite directors.  In addition, Grindhouse contains streaks, specks, and intentional “missing reels” (equipped with apologizes for the inconvenience) to allow the experience to take on the exact articulation a genuine grindhouse “B” film.  Despite Grindhouse earning the adjectives over-the-top and corny, it also warrants the words ingenious and entertaining.

With Planet Terror, director Robert Rodriguez tells the story of a go-go dancer named Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan).  After Cherry quits her night job, she reunites with her old flame Wray (Freddy Rodriguez) only to realize that a mysterious green gas has engulfed a neighboring Army base—transforming all human-beings into zombies.  With a multitude of zombies roaming the streets and severing everything in sight, Cherry and Wray must stop at nothing to cease the swarm and save humanity.  Even when Cherry loses her right leg, she is not hindered; Wray manages to replace her appendage with an automatic weapon.

Planet Terror is high on camp and fun.  Appearances from near has-beens like Michael Biehn and Jeff Fahey fit the film’s throwback nature.  Likewise, Stacy “Fergie” Ferguson, Bruce Willis, and Marley Shelton all fare well in meeting “B-horror” acting expectations.  However, it is Josh Brolin (the one-time big brother of Mikey from The Goonies) who hits the nail on the head and steals every scene in which he is featured. 

From severed heads, to buckets of blood, and from oozing puss, to J.T.’s Bar-B-Q sauce, Planet Terror is corny, comedic, and saucy.  With decapitation and amputation throughout, Planet Terror truly has all the fixings one could ask for.  As long as you leave your thinking cap at the door, you are sure to revel in its absurdity and brilliancy.

On the other hand, Tarantino takes a more serious approach in Death Proof.  Kurt Russell stars as Stuntman Mike—a bar regular who devours Nachos Grande and consumes a menu of virgin drinks.  All-the-while, Stuntman Mike scopes the scene and stalks pretty young women.  He intimidates and more with his black ‘71/’72 Chevy Nova, but when he crosses paths with fellow stuntwomen Kim (Tracie Thoms) and Zoe (Zoe Bell), his true colors begin to shine.

Although slow to the gas, Death Proof possesses the highlight of either film in the head-on collision scene.  It builds tension and places you in the dark for a few minutes; namely, when the women speak of playing “Ship’s Mast,” you are only left to wonder.  As well, it houses an extended uncut roundtable sequence reminiscent of the intro to Reservoir Dogs, and it has an ending that increases with intensity and laughter.

Both pictures – despite being broken up by a band of fake trailers – appear to have no direct correlation on the surface.  However, both can be tied together in a number of ways.  For instance, Jungle Julia is mentioned on the car radio in Planet Terror, and Marley Shelton’s and Michael Parks’ characters are featured in both films.  Furthermore, the films are bonded in text-messaging and the phrase “All or nothing.”  Even though, both half of the double feature exist as separate entities, they are loosely bound.

To comment on the trailers, the first of the four is a picture directed by Robert Rodriguez entitled “Machete.”  It features Danny Trejo as a Mexican bounty hunter and sets the tone for the three more trailers to come.  Between films, we are treated to “Werewolf Women of the S.S.,” “Don’t,” and “Thanksgiving.” “Werewolf Women” (directed by Rob Zombie) stars Nic Cage as Fu Manchu; enough said.  “Don’t” (directed by Edgar Wright) parodies every horror cliché in the book in under a minute, and “Thanksgiving” (directed by Eli Roth) is the best of the bunch.  It is a play on Halloween and hands down hilarious.

After two features and four faux “prevues,” what’s not to love?  Grindhouse throws the phrase “less is more” out the window and treats audiences to two satisfying slices of cinema.  While Rodriguez’s is more fun and complete, bits of Tarantino’s stand out.

Bearing in mind that it was Tarantino who greedily spilt Kill Bill into two volumes, Grindhouse is a sizeable payback that provides two distinctive and memorable motion-pictures on one bill.  Both movies make for an action-packed gruesome twosome of camp and quality.

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About Brandon Valentine