GRINDHOUSE PRESENTS: PLANET TERROR
Reviewed by: Ryan Doom
What's it about
A chemical escapes into the air, and thus zombies overtake the planet. So whoís there to save the world? A stripper, her ex-boyfriend, a small town sheriff and his bbq making brother. Chaos ensues.
Is it good movie?
Planet Terror, the first of the two Grindhouse films, is a fantastic, balls out, beyond gory, Wisconsin cheese fest, roller coaster of a zombie picture. Can I use any more adjectives to describe it than that? I loved every aspect of this film: the look, the feel, the attitude, the cheese, the scratches to make the thing look 30 years old. Even the pulsating, John Carpenterish music screams of B feature. Robert Rodriguez did everything within his directing/writing ability to truly capture what Grindhouse was supposed to represent Ė a homage to the cheap drive-in B features from the 1970s. (Unlike Quentin Tarantinoís Death Proof, which was just another Tarantino movie, not what it promised to be. But thatís for another review since the films have been divided.) Of course, Rodriguez could have simply concentrated on the blood and guts; it is a zombie flick after all. But Rodriguez did something more. He had a good, fast-paced story. He had likeable characters that made viewers care whether they lived or died. He also hired great B level actors, which doesnít imply that theyíre bad actors, but they simply arenít A material at this point. Michael Biehn. Rose McGowan. Freddie Rodriguez. Josh Brolin. Tom Savini. They only true name actor come from Mr. Bruce Willis, and it could even be argued that he has a bit of B within him as well.
Now if youíre not a film geek and havenít followed the reason why a double feature in theaters suddenly becomes separated on DVD, well, thatís a long story. Shortly, Grindhouse flopped and producers needed to recoup lost cash anyway they could. So why not double the DVD profits? Similarly, Planet Terror boasts that this DVD is an extended, unrated version of the film. Unrated you bet it is. This could hold a record (or be right up there) with highest gore level ever. But extended? There wasnít anything here that I didnít remember seeing in the theaters. Iím sure something new is in there, but if you donít notice, is it worth claiming?
One aspect still bugs me about Grindhouse. Why the hell did Tarantino and Rodriguez need upwards of $70 million dollars to make a movie look cheap? If they truly wanted to reflect the style and feel of the genre, why didnít they go on the cheap, with old school special effects and a budget that rivaled what made these two directors famous in the first place? I know that they split the budget, but somehow it still just doesn't seem right.
Video / Audio
Don't adjust your set, the picture is made to look extra crappy.
Video: 2.35:1 widescreen.
Audio: The film may look bad, but it sounds great in Dolby 5.1 Surround.
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 youíd expect.
10 Minute Film School: Rodriguezís 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.
Despite some very minor anal complaints, Planet Terror easily is one of the most entertaining films Iíve seen in years on so many levels. This oneís worth the price of the DVD.