Grindhouse review by The Grim Ringler

Ok, this is a call to geek arms – get out and see this movie now, now, now.

We can debate whether this is a great movie or a failed experiment but the thing is that this is the sort of filmmaking experience we rarely get anymore. This is a love letter to a bygone era and to fans of genre cinema and the writing on the wall seems to say that this isn’t a film long for the theaters. If that’s the case then now is the time to get out and see this while it is what it was meant to be – a flashback to the days of double features and getting your money’s worth.

First on the bill of this double-feature is Planet Terror a zombie film from Robert Rodriguez. The government has gotten its hands on a deadly biological agent that creates zombies of anyone that comes in contact with it in the hopes of using this during war times, unfortunately for the world; this agent has been leaked into the general populace. Several people band together to fight the undead as the plague spreads, hoping to stop it from spreading any further. Limbs are lost, pus is sprayed, and children are killed in this over-the-top gorefest that mixes a bit of the underground horror genre with poverty row exploitation films.

Next come trailers from the likes of Rob Zombie, Eli Roth, and Edgar Wright. Each of these trailers is a different take on the horror genre that, again, lived on poverty row and was found only in dank metro-theaters or on dusty video shelves. The standout of these three trailers is Don’t by Wright, which plays with the, shall we say ‘warning’ sub-genre that had a moment of glory in the seventies. All three shorts are very fun and really allowed the filmmakers to play with something without committing to a full project.

The second feature film is Death Proof, from Quentin Tarantino, his ode to exploitation action/revenge films. In this film a psychotic stuntman (played wonderfully by Kurt Russell, reminding us of why he’s so damned cool) uses his souped up street-rod as a weapon and hunts down and stalks and kills beautiful young women with the car. The stuntman though finds his match in three young women who don’t take too kindly to his killing ambitions and turn the tables on him in what becomes a very nasty car chase.

Personally, I loved the hell out of this, well, experience. I love the concept, I love the experimentation, and I love that they even did this. This, like 300 is a movie made to be an experience, not to be pondered over. This is pure popcorn and it’s wonderful as such. It’ll be a damned shame if they do as they’re talking about and cut the film in two and release each feature separately. What a shame. Will this make as much as was hoped, obviously not, but this is one of those times where you have an experience, and yes, I keep using that word, that isn’t like anything that’s out there. This isn’t meant to be mainstream, and it wasn’t going to be. Sure, the saturated marketing didn’t help matters, and maybe the run time did as well but this was never going to do 300 numbers. But then, you can’t always catch lightning in a bottle. I guarantee you though, these are films that will be beloved for years to come by genre fans and which will be brought up by geeks in ten years and more.

Ah, but how are the movies?

Both are pretty damned good. Planet Terror works a little better because you don’t need to be in on any sort of clever nod to the audience that you might need for Death Proof. PT is a straight up zombie romp. It’s ridiculous, it has some of the corniest and funniest dialogue around, and it’s dumb in the best of ways. It is, without a doubt, the movie that friends will get together to watch, whether on something or not, and just have a riot experiencing. This is Rodriguez showing how much damned fun he has making movies. He does everything here and it all works. Now, my thing though is that the next thing I want to see him make is a serious fill and THEN I will be impressed. The actors are very good and once again Rose McGowan proves what a good actress she is as she really pushes this film towards the end. Truly though, this works.

Death Proof actually works for me as well, but this one is slow to come to a boil. The thing here is that while Rodriguez channels several genres that don’t need a set up, well, DP sorta does. Tarantino made a classic ’70’s exploitation film, and in so doing it, it follows that sort of film’s pace – action, lots and lots of exposition, then a boat load of action and a sudden ending. This may rankle some but if you get what he’s doing, it’s hilarious. As I said before, Russell is fantastic and really creates a memorable, and pathetic, character. This is your usual talky Tarantino and there are a LOT of slow moments, but I think on further viewings these moments will not feel as slow and will take on more life as fans begin memorizing the lines. The action here is where it’s at though. The car chases are freakin’ amazing and really make you wonder how they got it all to come together without any serious injuries. The man knows how to shoot action, that is for sure. So yeah, it’s slow, but damn, this has a hell of a payoff and it’s worth waiting through.

The big problem I had with the film is that, well, dammit, Tarantino is just so corny as an actor and he’s in here a lot. In both films to be exact, and in neither is he good. He isn’t AWFUL, but he isn’t good. Trust me. And yeah, the ‘dropped reel’ moments of the film get frustrating as you feel like you missed a lot of stuff but then again, it’s all part of the schtick of Grindhouse.

Is this art? Yes and no. It’s art in a way in that it takes something that used to be known so well, and which had little credibility and it takes the best of those films and celebrates it. The films are not perfect, but then, that’s part of the fun as well. There are crazy twists, crazier logic, and an insane amount of violence, and I say good, no great! It’s rare that I have this much fun at a movie and this was definitely a movie made for fun. While this is best seen in a sleazy theater or at a drive in, catch it any way you can while you can because the next chance you may get to see these films together is on DVD. One of those movies you have to see in the theater (preferably with friends) to get the most out of.



9 out of 10 Jackasses
blog comments powered by Disqus