Movie Review: Grindhouse – Starring Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez and Kurt Russell

by Jason of New Movie Friday on April 6, 2007

in Movie Reviews

Grindhouse Series 1 Cherry Action FigureMovie: Grindhouse (R)
Released: April 6th, 2007
Runtime: 3 hr. 11 min.
Ticket Price: $5.00 Early Matinee
Refreshments: Swedish Fish
Starring: Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Kurt Russell & Many More
Directors: Robert Rodriguez & Quentin Tarantino

Rating: Worth a Full Price Ticket –

Synopsis: Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez decided to get a little exploitive. They teamed together to pay homage to a style of movies from the 1970s. They each directed a feature and others directed fake trailers that appear between the two films. The first is a zombie movie called “Planet Terror.” The second, a slasher type film called “Death Proof.” It is about a man that stalks women with his car. It is supposed to be like going to a double feature at an independent theater in the 1970s, which were known as grind houses.

Review: Grindhouse is a movie made up of two features and a few mock trailers for fake coming attractions. Robert Rodriquez (Sin City, Once Upon a Time in Mexico) directs the first part, “Planet Terror,” and the “Machete” preview that kicked the film off, which is now in production and will be an actual movie. Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill: Vol. 1 & 2, Pulp Fiction) directs the second part, “Death Proof.” Eli Roth (Hostel), Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) and Rob Zombie (The Devils Rejects) were the directors on the three fake trailers that are shown between the two features. They are “Thanksgiving,” “Don’t” and “Werewolf Women of the S.S.” respectively.

Except for the high back chairs, cup holders and stadium seating, you will feel like you are watching an old 1970s grind house film, complete with missing reels, bad editing, scratchy look, funky dialogue, opening title sequences and a soundtrack, although of better quality, that sounds right out of that era of film. My local theater had a notice posted at the ticket window to warn moviegoers that the movie is supposed to look and sound that way, which gave me a chuckle on the way in. Grindhouse is a movie that should be seen at a theater, as it won’t feel quite the same when watching it at home, no matter how good of home theater you have. If you could find a rundown old theater in your neighborhood that is playing the movie that would be even better.

The movie is in true grind house style, from what I have read and seen of the exploitation films of the 1970s, as settings and actors pop up in both features and the fake trailers. Tarantino himself is just one of the many who pop up in both features. These types of films were made on very low budgets and outside of the regular Hollywood fare of the day. To make every dollar count, they would take a bunch of unknown actors and actresses and film multiple movies all at once. Only a few prints could be afforded and distribution was done by hand delivery in many cases. One print would go from theater to theater, at each stop showing more wear than the one before. By the time it reached a theater near you, it might be missing a part of the film, be all scratched up or in a completely different order than when it was shown last. Thus the term grind house, as that is what the print reels were put through. It is said that there are a few different cuts of Grindhouse out there to mimic this. So, the version you see near you might have a few scenes in a different order than at other theaters it is playing at this weekend

“Planet Terror” is a zombie movie, with Rose McGowan (TV’s Charmed) as a go-go dancer named Cherry Darling that has lots of “useless talents” and one leg after being attacked by the zombies. With the help of an old boyfriend and a gun for a leg, she finally finds a use for all those talents and together they try to save the day. As a movie, in and of itself, I liked “Planet Terror” more than “Death Proof.” It held your attention all the way through, while Death Proof” really gets good in the second half.

“Death Proof” is a movie about a psychotic stalker who kills women with his car. Kurt Russell (Poseidon, Dark Blue) plays Stuntman Mike, the stalker in question. If you’ve ever seen Gone in 60 Seconds, and no I’m not talking about that “Angelina Jolie shit” either, you will probably enjoy “Death Proof.” A big part of the movie is the car chase duel that it ends with, much like Gone was one big car chase, but in this case with a killer trying to take out a group of stuntwomen out for a joy ride and one of them just happens to be on the hood of the car for the whole thing. The stunt sequence by Zoe Bell, who plays herself, is absolutely incredible. She has been the stunt double for actresses like Lucy Lawless in Xena: Warrior Princess and Uma Thurman in Tarantino’s Kill Bill movies. While overall, I didn’t like “Death Proof” as much as “Planet Terror,” This one sequence is worth the price of admission.

The worry that it was just going to be a bunch of over hyped carnage put on the big screen by two over hyped directors, turned out not to be the case. It is very well done and worth checking out. Grab yourself a full price ticket and go see this movie. Just be prepared to last the over three hours it runs. That way, you won’t have to get up and leave between features like a guy did during the screening I went to. He missed most of the fake trailers and commercial, which are really good and part of what makes Grindhouse worth seeing.

For those of you who like such, there is also a lot of Easter eggs and inside jokes and such in the film. Like, keep an eye out for Dr. Dakota Block’s to do list and what she has on it in regards to her husband Dr. William Block in “Planet Terror.” Or, the cup that Arlene is drinking from in the car in “Death Proof” and the faux restaurant commercial that plays between features. Did you catch those? What other fun extras did you notice in the film? How would you rate Grindhouse?

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