A Review of the “Grindhouse” Double-Feature


 DON’T!!!!! (But I Did), 8 April 2007
David H. Schleicher from New Jersey, USA

Like the classic double-features it pays homage to, “Grindhouse” features one half far superior to the other. The two-for-the-price-of-one deal is a mixed bag of schlocky, exploitative crap that pays off early for movie buffs.

“Planet Terror”–8/10. Like his “Sin City,” Robert Rodriguez’s zombie fest is pulpy, unapologetic over-the-top fun. He perfectly captures the spirit of the grindhouse films of old. His film is funny, violent, ridiculous, and pointless in all the right places and continually delivers the money shots of oozing flesh wounds, exploding bodies, severed limbs, decapitations, and chicks with machine guns (and one, Rose McGowan, with a machine gun leg that is every bit as spectacular as you imagined). The cast is all in on the joke and spectacularly game at every point (Marley Shelton as the lesbian anesthesiologist and Jeff Fahey as J.T. “the barbecue man” standing out). Operating at a crisp clip with no-nonsense or any attempt to parade as art, “Planet Terror” offers plenty bang for your buck and could easily stand alone. It’s the perfect example of giddy “insider-fetish” film-making where the director entertains the audience by first pleasing himself.

The “fake trailers” shown before and after “Planet Terror” are laugh-out-loud hilarious and operate brilliantly as both spoofs and homages. My personal favorite was Edgar Wright’s trailer for the searing psychological thriller “DON’T!” which in a sad bit of irony, could’ve been the tag-line for what comes next.

“Death Proof”–5/10. Quentin Tarantino’s rambling tale of an ex-stuntman stalking annoying and shallow women with his “death proof” car operates like a retarded Frankstein monster of a film made up of all the worst parts of Tarantino’s past efforts. A great performance from Kurt Russell and some fun car chase scenes aside, the rest is chock full of bad acting, worse writing and self-satisfied direction. This is the type of film where arbitrary dialogue is spouted by overly hipster actors playing non-characters we can’t wait to see die. Tarantino directs it smugly as he parades women in their undies and hot pants around and shows us some cool cars getting banged up, but it has no sense of fun to it. It’s the perfect example of banal “insider-fetish” film-making that bores its audience because the director first and foremost pleases himself.

Bottom line: Where as the “Kill Bill” films should’ve been edited down to one flick, this movie, joined at that skull like deformed twins, should’ve been severed. Oddly then the film-makers would’ve been left with a horrifying scenario. No one would want to see Tarantino’s half.

Originally Published on the Internet Movie Database


One comment

  1. Completely agree with you, though, I’d probably give the movie an 8 (the extra point given solely because “Werewolf Women of the S.S.” filled me with a bizarre glee). I saw the film again last weekend and on a second watching, Planet Terror is still great, but Death Proof seems worse (as exciting as the big car chase scene was it really doesn’t make up for the rest of the movie). I don’t necessarily agree that they should’ve been released separately, part of the draw of this movie for me was the simulated double feature aspect. I would love to see some spin-off movies with smaller budgets. Not spin-offs of the stories, spin-offs of the concept. Okay, so maybe I just showed how I don’t COMPLETELY agree with you. Still, I completely agree with you. Great review.

    Sean, I too hope it starts a mini-revival of the small budget exploitation film. Not so sure if it will based on the box office…but with small budgets profits are possible. -DHS

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