RELEASE DATE: APRIL 6
Directors: Robert Rodriguez (“Planet Terror”); Quentin Tarantino (“Death Proof”); Eli Roth, Edgar Wright, Rob Zombie (trailers)
Writers: Robert Rodriguez (“Planet Terror”); Quentin Tarantino (“Death Proof")
Cinematography: Robert Rodriguez (“Planet Terror”); Quentin Tarantino (“Death Proof”)
Starring: Kurt Russell, Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Rosario Dawson, Josh Brolin, Bruce Willis, Marley Shelton, Jeff Fahey, Nicolas Cage, many more
Studio/Running Time: Dimension Films, 191 mins.
Grindhouse is not your average movie. It’s a three-hour, creative ode to a particular slice of pop-culture history. Named for the urban theaters in the sixties and seventies that would “grind out” low-budget exploitation films, these classic movie palaces would frequently show two features back to back, sometimes starring the same heroes and villains. Good acting was not a requirement and a cohesive plot meant even less as long as there was plenty of bone-crushing violence and gratuitous sex. As youngsters, directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez were huge fans of this genre, which has lent obvious influence to earlier films (Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and Rodriguez’ Sin City) in their respective careers.
In “Planet Terror,” Rodriguez' half of the feature, a government-created plague is turning a town’s citizens into flesh-eating zombies. In true grindhouse fashion, the director fills the screen with sexy women, bloody battles and plenty of humor. Rose McGowan is terrific as the amputee with a machine gun for a leg, while Bruce Willis and Tarantino play infected soldiers whose deaths are two of the most grossly hysterical moments of the entire film. But some of the scariest characters of all are the non-infected.
Kurt Russell plays serial killer, Stuntman Mike, in Tarantino's half, “Death Proof,” where the cars are the real stars. Just as he does in all his works, Tarantino puts diverse characters into unique circumstances and thoroughly mixes it with mundane dialogue and insane violence. In one exhilarating sequence, real life stuntwoman, Zoe Bell, precariously hangs onto the hood of a speeding car in what is one of the greatest chase scenes in cinematic history.
You’ll hate yourself later if you miss the trailers shown at the beginning and during the intermission of Grindhouse. Rob Zombie (House of 1000 Corpses), Eli Roth (Hostel) and Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) each created fictional trailers to films that were never made (though you'll wish they were). My personal favorite is Roth’s “Thanksgiving,” where turkeys aren’t the only victims of a hatchet-wielding killer. The trailers add to the Grindhouse experience as a whole, making it feel less like two movies strung together.
You won't find enlightenment in this film, nor any redeeming value to speak of, really. Just like the movies that inspired it, Grindhouse is pure entertainment, and that’s enough.