Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Movies: Grindhouse

This isn't the first time Tarantino and Rodriguez have joined forces. If you've ever seen "From Dusk 'Til Dawn," one of the neatest things about it was how the wordy Tarantino crime movie suddenly metamorphosed into a gory, action-packed Rodriguez action horror flick. "Grindhouse" consists of two feature-length stories stitched together, with faux trailers and corny '70s-style rundown theatre segments filling the spaces in-between.

"Planet Terror," the first story, is the better of the two by a fairly wide margin. A parody/remake/pastiche of the "chemical zombie" line of zombie movies (exemplified by stuff like "Return of the Living Dead"), the story features Rose McGowan as a go-go girl turned messiah with an M4 carbine (with M203 grenade launcher) as a prosthetic leg.

The townsfolk predictably begin dying off from an outbreak of zombie-creating gas, and it's up to a last resistance from the survivors to stop the spread. There are some fun sight gags and hilarious gore (Nicotero, of "Day of the Dead" fame, worked on this one, and Tom Savini has a pretty big role), but it's nothing you haven't seen before.

The second feature is called "Death-Proof," and while Kurt Russell turns in an inspired performance as "Stuntman Mike" (the best work he's done in years), the story is mired by poor pacing, less gore and thrills than "Planet Terror," and a non-sensical story. Basically a takeoff on slasher flicks and old-school car movies like "Vanishing Point" (which even figures into the plot), "Death-Proof" abandons the genre conventions fairly early on, to its detriment. Tarantino never wrote a word for his characters he didn't like, so that's not surprising.

The trailers are pretty fun, and are uniformly entertaining. They tread the line between parody and homage quite well, with "Werewolf Women of the SS" coming eerily close to the old "Nazi frauleins in chains" movies.

Planet Terror rating: 7/10
Death-Proof rating: 5/10
Fake Trailers: 9/10

Here's my favorite of the fake trailers, "Thanksgiving." Warning - NSFW, and not for the kiddies (especially that trampoline part - ouch):


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