Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez
What's it about
Planet Terror: After an experimental bio-weapon is released, turning thousands into zombie-like creatures, it's up to a rag-tag group of survivors to stop the infected and those behind its release.
Death Proof: Two separate sets of voluptuous women are stalked at different times by a scarred stuntman who uses his "death proof" cars to execute his murderous plans.
Is it good movie?
In case you don't know, I love Grindhouse, despite a major beef I hold with it. I think the idea of creating and releasing a double bill of old school horror/exploitation/suspense flicks by two awesome modern-day directors is ambitious, original and fun. I was one of thirty people to actually see this experience in the theaters and I loved every moment of it.
Released for the first time as a whole on Blu-Ray, this one is an experience filled with old-school ratings and other interstitial bumpers before and in-between films. On top of that, you have faux trailers for upcoming attractions sandwiched in there too. These are all hilarious and top-notch and the reason I wanted to have this in my collection (yes, I owned both Death Proof and Planet Terror separately on Blu-Ray before this). You get trailers for all of the faux films, even Machete (whatever happened to that one?) . Included are Don't from Edgar Wright, Thanksgiving from Eli Roth and Werewolf Women of the SS from Rob Zombie. I love these trailers, they're laugh out loud, bizarre and full of big name talent to make you smile.
Anyway, let me give you some brief opinions on the films. I absolutely love Planet Terror. It's one of my favorite modern horror films and I think it's an absolute blast packed full of memorable characters and fantastic moments. Marley Shelton plays a completely insane mother on the run from her deliciously evil husband, Doc Block (Josh Brolin). You've also got a go-go dancer (who loses her leg early on) and her ex-boy friend and troublemaking con, played by Rose McGowan and Freddy Rodriguez. Don't forget policeman Michael Biehn and Jeff Fahey playing brothers who are trying to reconcile with one another to get the secret to a barbecue recipe.
On top of all that, there's a zombie invasion that's been created through a chemical weapon and a cameo by Bruce Willis. Everyone's turning into awful, disgusting zombies and we're smack in the middle of it. I think that this movie is a blast to watch from start to finish and has some disgusting effects, awesome explosions, memorable dialogue and unforgettable characters to say the least. It completely conforms to the B-Movie conventions that came before it and even has fun gags like missing reels. I can't say enough good things about Planet Terror. I watch it several times a year and it is a personal favorite of mine.
Death Proof on the other hand, is not a favorite. I still chalk this up to the fact that this is a far more low-key film that should have played first on the bill instead of second. After Planet Terror, I was ready for some more crazy action, and instead I got another Tarantino flick. I was really excited to see Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike, the insane killer who offs ladies in his 'Death Proof' stunt car. I thought that the first half an hour or so of this film was excellent, setting up the characters well and including an awesome death scene that is quite memorable.
Unfortunately after this, the movie slows to a halt and we're left with a lot of Tarantino dialogue. This interesting bunch of women just isn't enough to keep you captivated because they talk forever. It's a shame, because you have some great actresses in here (like Zoe Bell, woo!) but they just go on forever and it starts to wear thin quickly. There's a LOT of dialogue here and don't get me wrong- I love Tarantino. I just think that in his older age, he needs to start being a bit more judicial with the editing. Sometimes his endless references can be entertaining. Other times you're left tapping your fingers on the table, wondering when the hell you're going to get back to the Grindhouse.
Luckily, the last half hour is pretty cool, featuring Stuntman Mike finally trying to take these girls out and does have some awesome stunts like when Ms. Bell is hanging on the hood of Mike's car and trying to survive. I felt that this wasn't exactly worth the wait and that the ending left a lot to be desired, turning the film into a joke in some respects. There's no doubt that although I didn't hate it, Death Proof seemed way off the mark in comparison to Planet Terror and showing Rodiriguez' film first hurt things, in my opinion.
Video / Audio
Grindhouse is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and looks good, although it's sort of supposed to look like crap. It looks like glorious crap in Hi-def though, although the second half of Death Proof looks fantastic.
Grindhouse's audio comes in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and hits the mark, although I've been reading a lot of complaints about the audio not being loss less. I have no idea what that means, so nerds take note.
Oh there are a ton of extras here..most ported over from the DVD release. I have borrowed from past reviews to cover some of these (from fellow authors Jason Adams and Ryan Doom).
Audio Commentary: Rodriguez, of course, provides the track. At times, he seems a little tired, but it is Rodriguez, and he gives plenty of great insights just like you’d expect.
10 Minute Film School: Rodriguez’s excellent DVD series continues where he explains just about everything a geek needs know about how he made the film. Excellent.
The Badass Babes of Planet Terror: The beautiful women of the film get their focus through interviews and clips. Rodriguez, of course, gives great insight.
The Guys of Planet Terror: Good character analysis on each of the men.
Casting Rebel: Rodriguez dedicates an extra to his son.
Sickos, Bullets, and Explosions: The Stunts of Planet Terror: A look at how Rodriguez and his stunt team created all the fantastic stunts throughout the film.
The Friend, The Doctor, and the Real Estate Agent: A quirky approach, but Rodriguez dedicates an extra to super minor characters (basically his friends). He seems like one loyal dude.
The Hot Rods of DEATH PROOF (11:47): Ever seen a camera rig on a Cadillac Escalade? Check that out here, as well as a look at selecting and customizing each of the major cars (Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger, Chevy Nova) and how they were filmed (presumably safely) at high speeds. Tarantino also talks about car chases in cinema and making his own iconic chase sequence.
Stunts on Wheels (20:40): “Real cars, real shit, at full fucking speed.” The stunt drivers are the people that Tarantino wants to glorify in this extra, with interviews and background provided for the old school drivers and stunt coordinators who worked on the movie.
Introducing Zoe Bell (8:58): It’s no secret that Tarantino harbors affection for his KILL BILL stuntwoman and this is a good look at the woman who can fight, fall and hang on to the hood of a speeding car, but is terrified of saying a line in front of a camera.
Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike (9:33): Kurt Russell is one of the coolest people to walk the earth and you don’t need a ten minute featurette to tell you that.
Finding Quentin’s Gals (21:14): Less casting couch porno and more featurette on looking for the perfect girl for each role. Tarantino pretty much has a story and reasoning for every actress onboard and he’s not afraid to tell you about it.
Uncut version of “Baby It’s You” (1:48): The song (which was cut from the theatrical release) is performed by an iPod wearing Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who is actually quite a good singer.
The Guys of DEATH PROOF (8:16): There’s guys in this movie besides Kurt Russell? This is worth watching just to see Eli Roth making fun of his hero Kurt Russell and then apologizing profusely.
Quentin’s Greatest Collaborator (4:37): Tarantino talks about his editor Sally Menke, who has worked with him since RESERVOIR DOGS, and how editing and writing are tied together (“The last draft of the script is the first draft of the movie.”). There’s also a funny montage of the actors talking to Sally on camera.
Also included: a Music Selection feature, various Trailers and a Poster Gallery.
And if you're looking for the exclusive Blu-Ray features, they be here.
Robert Rodriguez’s Ten Minute Cooking School teaches you how to make delicious ribs!
the Make-up Effects of Planet Terror runs about 12 minutes long and features the always awesome Greg Nicotero!
From Texas to Tennessee: The Production design of Death Proof runs about 8 minutes long and details (what else?) but the locations and production design of Tarantino's road epic.
There's a ton of awesome trailer stuff too, including extended cuts of Werewolf Women and Don't, and both feature commentary tracks and making of featurettes that run about ten minutes each. Thanksgiving has a making of featurette as well, and the trailers feature Storyboards to trailer comparison, storyboard still galleries and posters. Phew. This stuff is really, really awesome and provides a ton of fun and insight into something that added a lot of charm to these films.
If you want more, you got it. There's an hour long discussion known as New York Times Talk with Lynn Hirschberg, where an interviewer sits with the directors to chat with them in-depth about how awesome they are. This felt a tad dry but has a lot of info within it so I'm glad it was included.
You also get 25 minutes of the Comic-Con panel from 2006, as the gentlemen get the crowd pumped up to see their films which hadn't been released yet.
As if that isn't enough, you get the faux trailer for Rutger Hauer's Hobo With a Shotgun! Woah.
I'm simply exhausted from just writing this review. This blu-ray took me a week to watch and for good reason. If you like Grindhouse, this is THE essential edition to own. There's more extras than you can shake a stick at and a TON of bonus features to keep you entertained for a long time. Chances are you won't love both films included in the package but I bet you'll love one of them for sure depending on your preferences. I think this is a great experiment in filmmaking and I'm thrilled to have it on my shelf. And hey, if you love Rose McGowan, she's in both flicks!