Grindhouse, released in 2007, is two full length feature horror movies put together as a two film feature by Quentin Tarantino and his partner in crime, Robert Rodriguez. Fake trailers were shown before each movie and included Machete and Hobo with a Shotgun, which were both released as full length features in 2010.
Death Proof (2007)
Dir: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson and Zoe Bell
The first feature, Death Proof focuses on Stuntman Mike, a mysterious man who stalks women in his ‘death proof’ car. It is split in to two parts and it’s fair to say that it takes a while to get going. However, the reason why there’s a delay before we get to the action is classic Tarantino – the characters are having conversations and it really does feel as though we, as the audience, are eavesdropping.
The first part of the film focuses on a group of women who are en route to a weekend getaway. A few drinks, a lap dance and a 200mph collision later, Mike’s car demonstrates its death proof status.
Another group of women – Abernathy, Lee, Kim and Zoe – are the focus of the second part of the film. It is not only the women who have changed, however. The scene changes from Texas to Tennessee and Stuntman Mike has a new car, a 1970 Dodge Challenger. However, the game has significantly changed. Kim and Zoe are stuntwomen and boy do they know how to drive a car. Let’s just say that Stuntman Mike has met his match…
Death Proof screams ‘made by Tarantino’ – it is a film only Tarantino could make. The women are all great characters and Kurt Russell is fantastic as Stuntman Mike. However, the film is a little too random for my liking – a strange, aging stuntman has a vendetta against women and stumbles across, amongst others, a local DJ and a visiting stuntwoman? Riiiight.
I guess that’s the norm with Tarantino films, though. You either love them wholeheartedly from the first watch or just can’t get into it.
Planet Terror (2007)
Dir: Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez and Josh Brolin
The second feature, Planet Terror is the more enjoyable because of one simple reason: it’s completely OTT. For every second that Death Proof is tense and brooding, Planet Terror is exaggerated and flamboyant. From a modified M4 Carbine as a substitute leg to an unfaithful bisexual anesthesiologist, ‘ordinary’ is clearly not a word in Robert Rodriguez’s dictionary.
After a chemical engineer releases a deadly bio-weapon known as DC2 (codename ‘Project Terror’) into the air, people are turned into deformed, bloodthirsty zombie-like creatures. It is up to the beautiful Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan), mysterious El Wray (Freddy Rodriguez ) and a bunch of other surviors to stop the infected.
I don’t like horror movies but Planet Terror is worth a watch because it is entertaining and completely OTT. While Death Proof is more stylised with its dated appearance, Planet Terror is 60% out blood and guts, 40% guns and explosions. El Wray are the perfect hero and heroine – Cherry has stormed to the top spot on my movie heroines list.
Dir: Ethan Maniquis, Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba and Robert De Niro
And, at last, we come to Machete. It instantly reminded me of Kill Bill, especially with Steven Seagal armed with a samurai sword: after being set-up and betrayed by the man who hired him to assassinate a Texas Senator, an ex-Federale launches a brutal rampage of revenge against his former boss (courtesy of IMDb, who are far better at paraphrasing than I am!).
As with Planet Terror, Machete is very tongue-in-cheek and, to be quite honest, I couldn’t take it that seriously – especially when Lindsay Lohan made an appearance!
To be honest, I didn’t find Machete that enjoyable. I don’t know why in particular, though. It’s ticks a lot of the same boxes as Planet Terror and Kill Bill but I just didn’t get into it… There are quite a few witty one-liners, however, and Jeff Fahey makes a great baddie. Watch it with friends when you’re after a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously.