February 13, 2009

It took almost a year, but I finally got around to watching the other half of Grindhouse…Death Proof. I’d watched Planet Terror almost a year ago, during my maternity leave movie marathon, but I had never gotten around to Death Proof until now.

I’ll start off with Planet Terror. Rose McGowan stars as Cherry Darling, the stereotypical Go-Go Dancer with a heart of gold. Now you all know that I’m the #1 Rose McGowan apologist, but come on – this role was made for her. She was perfect as Cherry, besides the only way that Freddy Rodriguez would work as the hero would be to cast someone tinier than him as his girl. Even so, Rose almost towers over him in heels. It’s a shame that her relationship with director, Robert Rodriguez overshadows her role. He seems quite a cad for leaving his wife of over 15 years and mother of 5 bizarrely named children for Rose. They haven’t managed to turn it into quite the soulmate story that Brad and Angelina have…if there’s a side to this story that makes him not a dick, I haven’t heard it.

Quentin Tarantino must really enjoy playing nasty, sexually deviant characters. I thought that that Richie Gecko was the bottom of the barrel until I saw his character in Planet Terror. Do I need to revive Junk Trauma?

The scene with Dakota Block’s son is simply the most chilling sequence I’ve ever seen in a film. It beats Saw, it beats Se7en. The pit fell out of my stomach and I thought I was going to have turn the film off. Maybe I was more sensitive because I had just given birth a week before…How did Rodriguez film that using his very own child?

My only complaint was that Fergie did not die quickly enough or graphically enough.

Planet Terror was thrill a minute – the action never stopped and I didn’t want it to end – I wish I could say the same about Death Proof. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Admittedly, I was turned off as soon as I saw the Alamo Drafthouse at the beginning of the film. I knew that the setting was Austin before I even saw the subtitle. Let’s just say that I’m not the biggest Austin fan in the world. Hippies and potheads and tree huggers and longhorns and traffic and bad music. For a town that brags about its non-conformity, how come everyone who lives there is the same? Austin is my idea of HELL. Anyway…the film begins in Austin, slowly following the exploits of three party girls as they veer towards a fateful run-in with Stuntman Mike.

Jungle Julia was annoying. Arlene was only slightly less annoying. (I guess Vanessa Ferlito thought she was going to make it big after this, so she quit CSI: NY. Where is she now?) I liked Jordan Ladd – did you know that she almost had Rose McGowan’s career? Speaking of Rose, she had a small role in Death Proof as well. She dons a hideous blond wig and tries to hitch a ride with Stuntman Mike – bad idea.

I know what Tarantino was doing. I know all about suspense and the slow build. You’re just sitting there, waiting for something, anything violent to happen. These girls are so vapid that you WANT something bad to happen to them. I admit, it’s pretty awesome when Stuntman Mike finally makes his move, but I was really unhappy for the 45 minutes it took to get there.

Once we got to Lebanon, Tennessee, the film was able to keep me interesting. I’m not a big Rosario Dawson fan, but she fit the role and was funny. Zoë Bell, though obviously not an actress, was likable and fun to watch – a real stuntwoman to battle against Stuntman Mike. The second group of girls was so much less annoying that the first – was it because they obviously had jobs and weren’t drunk and high? Was it because they weren’t from Austin? All of the above? Am I insinuating that the first group deserved to die solely because they were in Austin? Well, maybe. But maybe they had to die because hedonists ALWAYS die in these movies, but girls with jobs and guns usually win.

Watching a film made by a film buff should be fun, right? All the references to the classics, the superior technique, auteur theory…Tarantino seems to feel that he’s the brilliant professor and you’re the ignorant freshman. If you know even half as much about film as he does, you just start rolling your eyes and think of how the mighty have fallen…

Interestingly, my sister had the exact opposite opinion on the two films. She liked Death Proof, but she thought that Planet Terror was just dumb. It makes sense, because although we mostly have similar taste in films, she usually gravitates more towards action and kung fu flicks and I lean towards camp and horror.

I give Planet Terror 4 BOBs and Death Proof gets 2 BOBs, so Grindhouse gets the average score – 3 BOBs.

Year – 2007
Rating – NC-17
Runtime – 191 minutes
Genre – Exploitation Horror
Director(s) – Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, Eli Roth, Edgar Wright, Rob Zombie
Writer(s) – Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, Eli Roth, Edgar Wright, Jeff Rendell, Rob Zombie
Actor(s) – Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Josh Brolin, Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson
BOB Rating – Three BOBs
Favorite Quote – "Hey good looking! We'll be back to pick you up later!" - Kim (Tracie Thoms)