For quite some time now, filmmakers Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have helped out on each other’s films here and there. For example, Tarantino directed his own sequence within Rodriguez’s hit “Sin City.” Never, though, have they combined forces the way they have in their latest project, “Grindhouse,” complete with faux-trailers between films.
For those who don’t know, the double feature is a throwback to the old ’70s, B-style genre of films. Similar films from that era were low-budget and made with whatever they were given.
So if you were watching a car chase packaged with car crashes, those were all real. Also, films were scratchy and reels would go missing, making for interesting experiences.
First up in the “Grindhouse” experience, as it is being tagged, is Rodriguez’s “Planet Terror.” Set in Texas (as is the second feature “Death Proof”), it follows a viral-infection outbreak in a small town. The outbreak is the result of an Iraqi-born disease brought over by the military. Once the disease takes affect, it turns all the unfortunate souls into “sickos.”
The local sheriff’s department (led by Michael Biehn) takes the sickos head on, reluctantly helped by gun-legged go-go dancer Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan) and her boyfriend El Wray (Freddy Rodriguez).
In Tarantino’s “Death Proof,” Kurt Russell plays the psychotic Stuntman Mike. He stalks younger girls (though no reason is given for his choices) in his 1971/72 Chevy Nova, painted all black with a white skull emblem on the front.
If neither of these plot lines seem like they would make for a superb movie, you have just discovered the point of the experience. Since they are an homage to the low-budget movies found in urban areas, they were meant mostly for shock and excitement. One must go into “Grindhouse” expecting nothing to make any sense.
The films work so well because they are meant mostly for bloody, slasher-type fun. Scratched up film, even ripped at times, and a couple missing reels (during the sex scenes, as opposed to a major plot point) make for something most people have not seen before.
However, because of the type of film, it is highly recommended that you be either a fan of the genre, or a fan of Tarantino or Rodriguez-or both, for that matter. If you cannot stomach blood and guts, “Planet Terror” may not be for you. “Death Proof,” on the other hand, is a completely different type of movie.
It is very slow moving-but with an awesome sequence in which the camera does not change for a good 10 minutes, packaged with classic Tarantino dialogue-but with a ridiculously fun car chase at the end. This was most likely on purpose, because films like these were meant to be seen for the car chases. If you want heavy action, Tarantino’s segment would seem like the weaker of the two, but it really holds its own.
The faux trailers included with films are great as well.
“Machete” gets things going before “Planet Terror,” a trailer starring Danny Trejo that-thankfully-is going to be released on DVD, according to Rodriguez. Other trailers included are “Werewolf Women of the SS” (Rob Zombie’s), “Don’t” (British comedy from Edgar Wright), and “Thanksgiving” (possibly the best thing Eli Roth has done).
Overall, the “Grindhouse” experience is a great throwback to a long-gone genre of films. There is no sense of decency, no sense of reason, and it truly is what the tagline describes it as: a “sleaze-filled saga of an exploitation double feature.”
But that is what makes “Grindhouse” so great. So if you are a fan of the genre or directors, or you have about three hours to spend watching the gruesome-twosome’s sleaze-filled creation, you will be pleased.