Not being a big fan of Robert Rodriguez (I despised Sin City), I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go or not. But after 20 minutes of Planet Terror, I knew I was in for a darn good time. Planet Terror is probably the most fun I have ever had at the movies. Its such a delightfully dumb and clichéd piece of film. Everything about it is just insanely hilarious and we were quoting it all the way home. It has to be one of the most quotable movies ever and I had a darn good time!
Before going into it, my concern was that the violence would be very much like “gore porn” (where the powers-that-be decide to capitalize on human suffering a la Hostel and Saw), but I was pleasantly surprised. It was just funny schlock that ended up being extremely entertaining. Not to mention that it includes one of the funniest endings to a movie ever.
There are a couple things about Planet Terror that I thought went a little bit too far. Robert Rodriguez seems to have an obsession with emasculation and some plot points relating to that were a little too gross for my liking. There’s also a completely terrible attempted rape scene that pushes propriety off the ledge of Mount Everest ... one of the only parts of the whole Grindhouse experience that made me feel like throwing up.
Tarantino’s Death Proof couldn’t be more different from Planet Terror. Instead of being driven by schlock horror, Tarantino’s film is very dialogue driven. It’s good dialogue and definitely has the Tarantino flair, but gets far too crude at times. I got extremely tired of hearing women constantly swear gratuitiously. I didn’t mind Pulp Fiction at all … this was just annoying at times, though.
BUT, complaints aside, the car chases in Death Proof are completely amazing. Tarantino chose not to use any CGI for his movie and the result is fantastic. They are probably the most daring, edge-of-your-seat car chase I have ever seen. The end of Death Proof is also insanely hilarious and had me cracking up all through the credits.
I love how Tarantino and Rodriguez have duped us with the Grindhouse trailers. The trailer says something like “a Grindhouse was a theater that featured uncensored sexuality!”. In the movie(s), both times some sort of sexual scene is being promised, the film melts away into a missing reel message. For me, those scenes provided some of the biggest laughs, but I can imagine how some horny teenagers might be disappointed. Serves them right.
The fake trailers were a riot as well. Werewolf Women of the SS has to be one of the best movie titles ever conceived and Edgar Wright's trailer for Don't (makes me all the more excited for Hot Fuzz in a few weeks) had me rolling on the floor. Eli Roth’s trailer, though, is the lowest point of Grindhouse. It's perverse and disgusting and totally broke the light-hearted tone of everything else.
I really don’t know how to conclude my thoughts on Grindhouse. I don’t see many movies I think won’t be worthwhile and this one is definitely a really cool piece of film making. As much fun as it was, its devoid of any meaning whatsoever. I don’t necessrily think this is a bad thing sometimes, but today's movie-going audience usually feeds only on this kind of entertainment. This worries me. If you're going to watch movies, you need to balance the "fast food" with challenging pieces of film. I try to do this and find a good, challenging film extremely rewarding.
That said, I really really loved (most of) Grindhouse, and if you can handle the violence and some swearing, I think a lot of movie lovers will as well.