Ladies, we're gonna have some fun! - Stuntman Mike
I’m a big fan of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. Both gents have put out some freaking celluloid keepers over the years and have acted as stern sources of inspiration for the newest generation of filmmakers. With GRINDHOUSE, these kool duders aimed to bring us back to the good old days of 70s and 80s exploitation action/horror schlock. A time when political correctness was way down in the shitter (where it belongs). Did they succeed at it? Here are my 69 cents!
Planet Terror (Rating 3.5/4):
After Planet Terror came to a close, I wanted to stand up and cheer like a coke fueled cheerleader on coke! Alas I couldn’t because I saw it at a Press screening and they don’t play that game there. So you know what? I’ll do it right now. “Arrow stands” - BRAVO! BRAVO! HOOKERS FOR ALL! BRAVO! Rodriguez so nailed the late 70s and early-mid 80s exploitation jive with his entry resulting in one of the more entertaining flicks of the year thus far! Minor pacing issues aside (middle section); Planet Terror was an absolute blast to sit through! Sexy, raunchy, totally off the wall, out of line (loved that sack of testicules gag), butt-slapping funny and gorier than a butcher at a chicken-coop party, I couldn’t get enough of this cinematic badass!
The film slyly played out its main narrative and gnarly subplots (The Mr Block vs Mrs Block story owned me!) in a tongue in cheek manner, springing off well known 80’s horror/action conventions with glee and razor wit. I was on the freaking floor! The incredible cast in this madhouse thankfully ran with that sweet joo-joo all the way! Rose McGowan was all around class, sass, confidence and sexiness! Cherry was a fantastic character and McGowan wrangled it effortlessly! Think Ripley from ALIENS but hotter than hell and sporting a dangerous yet arousing attitude! I’d kill to see Cherry in her own movie! KILLL! Freddy Rodriguez rocked it too! He had the tough dude and dead pan thing down pat! LOVED HIM!
While the great Michael Biehn… well… lets please have a moment of silence for The Biehn………………… HE SO CAME THROUGH! It was a freaking delight to see The Biehn in freaking hardcore action again! The man kicked butt and took names like no other and his stoic, dead serious performance had me grinning from ear to ear (he really wants that recipe...lol). Add to all that; clever dialogue galore, lots of shit going KABOOM real good, all kinds of well staged action set pieces, an endearing inventive streak (stump-gun rocked), The Fahey (yeah you heard me Jeff F*cking Fahey… nough said) and a winning score that emulated 80s John Carpenter to a T and you get a non-stop rollercoaster ride of splats, tits, guns and giggles! AWESOME! Now this IS a Grindhouse film!
After Rodriguez’ missile to the brain, it was Tarantino’s turn to get a crack at it with Death Proof.
Death Proof (Rating 1.5/4):
I worship pretty much everything that Tarantino has done except for Kill Bill 2 (which under whelmed me) and Jackie Brown (although that one has started to grow on me); so you can imagine my surprise when I swiftly realized that I was loathing Death Proof with a passion. Tarantino’s incredibly self indulgent, painfully redundant and poorly structured segment was akin to watching paint dry on a dead cow. Sorry but witnessing two groups of self absorbed, Ebonics abusing, unrealistic and totally un-likeable chicks yap about NOTHING (like foot massages…its old man) via “gratingly self aware” and macho dialogue (yup these dames talk like dudes) did not equal fun times for me. Hearing them drop the words “bitch” and “motherf*cker” at every second word didn’t help matters either. My trusty back-hand kept wanting to lash out at the screen in retort! HOLD ME BACK MAN!
Yup I zoned out often during this one and kept praying that Kurt Russell would get in there and kill these “sailor on leave’ twats already! Speaking of Russell; the man was tops as per usual and along with one heck of an impressively shot "murders by car-crash" bit and a nifty end car chase (that sadly didn't mean much to me since I didn't give a damn by then) he was pretty much the sole reason to sit through this bore fest. Every time Russell popped onscreen, I breathed a sigh of relief. It meant these phoney broads would stop verbally vomiting garbage for at least a second. The man’s strong charisma and slick hair also helped ease the agony of the whole. Sadly Russell was underused for the most part (he vanishes from the film for like half an hour) and the initial premise that carried so much promise was quickly shot in the foot. I thought I was gonna see a slasher-ish “psycho kills chicks with his car” piñata of fun not a lumbering and profanity laced Tupperware Party!
And to add insult to insult the last block felt forced and dragged like a dead lay. The reversal of roles (you'll see) didn't feel organic and the day I see Kurt “Snake Plissken- Sergeant Todd” Russell reduced to sniveling sissy level by a group of poseur Spicegirls is the day I say F*CK THAT! I guess today is that day, since the film did just that, so… F*CK THAT! Maybe I just didn’t get it, maybe I missed something… but whatever the case; Death Proof is now officially my least favorite Tarantino film of all time.
In between both features we were treated to some faux trailers. Here’s what I thought of them:
Rodriguez’s Machete was my fav of the lot! You just can’t go wrong with Danny Trejo f*cking people up in an 80’s action style type of effort. I hope Rodriguez gets the feature going because I’M THERE with bells and hand grenades on! Edgar Wright's Don't Scream was amusing for the most part but it stretched its one joke just a little too much if ya ask me. Still a riot though.
Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving was deliciously out of line and the voice over trailer dude was downright hilarious! Every time he name dropped “Thanksgiving” in that deep, low voice, I cracked up! Rob Zombie’s Werewolf Women of the S.S was gnarly in concept but the execution didn’t do much for me. Zombie didn’t capitalize on his Werewolf angle enough and the trailer wasn't all that it could've been.
So there you have it buds and budettes! On the whole; Grindhouse did a stellar job at capturing the feel of old school and shameless fun times. With its scratched and dust filled images and its bodacious missing reels (which somehow added to the experience) I felt like I was back in the 80s! WELCOME TO THE GRINDHOUSE!