Review By: Joe


As a staunch supporter of the female form, I must say that directly after the first fake trailer comes the best part of Grindhouse: the opening credits to Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror. Why do I say this? Because these opening titles are over two minutes in length and Rose McGowan performs a spirited go-go dance for the entirety of them. The relative lack of clothing coupled with just how long it goes on for makes the dance borderline pornographic. Also, she puts her tongue on a mirror.

If you want to save your money and, more importantly in this case, your time, I've already found a place where one can download the sequence in question: YAY!!!!!

Now, I don't really mind devoting more than a paragraph to pathetically glorifying a piece of female sexploitation because, for one, none of you are my friends in real life, two, if I'm going to appreciate Ms. McGowan for something it's most certainly not going to be her acting and, three, Grindhouse has been intentionally designed as a hollow and ridiculous bit of film. I don't think it's any great offense to the movie to declare this the best part of it because the whole thing is based on indulging in all the most base cinematic lusts that are a part of much of the moviegoing public's consciousness, i.e. gore, action, revenge, and sex.

Basically, our good friends Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino set out to make homages to some of the worst, most over-the-top films ever created. They did a whole movie each, surrounded by a bunch of nonsense trailers and silly film tricks to round out the whole (fake) experience. The fact that what they're doing is just plain bizarre is what got me into the theater, but it occurred to me later that, had I been around during the era of actual grindhouse film, I would've avoided those movies like the plague. So why would I want to see an homage (a three-hour one, no less) to them? Here is a poop analogy, because that's pretty much the best way to explain everything:

I don't wanna see what you did in the toilet, so why would I want a re-creation of it? (A diarrhea diorama perhaps? Tee hee.)

So I see most people saying that Rodriguez's Planet Terror is the better film. I understand that many folks might be more entertained by it as there's a hell of a lot more action. But if you're actually going to look at film as what a handful of people consider it to be, an art form, Planet Terror is the equivalent of someone vomiting blood all over an original print of Citizen Kane.

Not pictured: Rose McGowan

If we are going to pit Tarantino and Rodriguez directly against each other and try to rate them based on this absurd self-inflicted assignment, Rodriguez wins by a machine gun leg, a bag of severed testicles, a zombie rapist with a melting penis, Fergie, constant low-brow humor, and a complete and total lack of giving a shit that his plot have even the briefest hint of pertinence. He set out to make a bad movie and he succeeded. I was entertained from time to time, sure, but if you're going to examine this film from a standpoint of genuine filmmaking, it's deplorable. I mean, honestly, when you put a "REEL MISSING" placard up in the middle of your movie that deliberately leaps past a huge piece of plot (admittedly, this was kind of funny) you are sending out a clear message: "I don't care." And, therefore, neither did I! I guess some of the action was fine, but I was done with Planet Terror before it was over and was dreading the fact that there was still a whole movie to come.

Luckily, Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof has hints of a good film in it. There's wayyyy too much dialogue that seemingly doesn't even have any major ultimate purpose, but, simply put, Tarantino is a talented bastard. I found Death Proof actually kind of depressing because, from the very beginning, it's so clear that, if he wasn't wasting his time on these self-indulgent wankfests, he could still be putting out some really kick-ass cinema. This movie did not at all feel like I imagine a genuine grindhouse film should. It felt like a Tarantino film shoehorned into the grindhouse theme. The man is a pretty good writer and a great director. I wish he'd curb his fucking ego and make something awesome again.

I understand people preferring Planet Terror, but all the action in the world won't do it for me. I need SOMETHING substantial to make me give a shit and Planet Terror is completely vapid. And as I do not care at all about how true these films are to old movies that were, oh yes that's right, terrible, I latched on to the only hint of decent filmmaking there was here and you can only find that in Death Proof.

Speaking of authenticity to crappy film, this is the other thing, besides Rose's lovely opening dance, that I'm surprised I don't see other people bringing up: MANUFACTURED SOUND POPS. If you weren't aware, Grindhouse was intentionally made to look like it was shot on crappy, old film stock (which it fails at, by the way, because it still looks like a new movie, but with fake crappiness overlayed on it). You may have also heard that pops were added to the soundtrack, in order to emulate the crappy audio of those old movies. What I didn't know was that these pops aren't so much pops as they are this HORRIBLY INTRUSIVE, IRRITATING, AND LOUD "SCHOOK-SCHUCK!!!!" NOISE THAT SHOWS UP SPORADICALLY THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE THREE-PLUS HOURS OF THE MOVIE. Halfway through Death Proof, the grainy film look is even COMPLETELY abandoned and yet the annoying sound glitches are STILL KEPT IN. If I actually rated stuff with a system of stars or something I'd take a whole one off simply because of how annoying this was.

To mention quickly, adding to the "EXPERIENCE OOOH!" are, of course, the fake trailers, which I suppose are entertaining enough. I would say the second best part of the film is the Don't trailer, which was done by the Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz guys, which explains why it's pretty damn good.

I understand Grindhouse is tanking at the box office, which is fine with me. I'm sure it shouldn't hurt Rodriguez too badly as the guy is such a fan of fleamarket filmmaking that he'll bounce back just fine and I in no way care about what effect this might have on his ludicrous career anyhow. More importantly, I hope it sends a message to Tarantino that, one, he should get the hell away from Robert Rodriguez because he's like that kid your mom won't let you hang out with because you always get into trouble when you're together (I mean, I don't care how you frame it, I think it's a low point in your career when you're playing the part of the aforementioned rapist melting penis zombie) and, two, that he should make a REAL MOVIE again.

Understand that I did not hate Grindhouse. I was just upset that I wasn't seeing this effort put towards a better movie. Just because you have the reputation and you have the money, doesn't mean you should give in to every little desire you have to indulge in your childhood fantasies. Just because you've made good movies doesn't mean you have a right to make intentionally bad ones. I'm sure you can, but why would I want to see it?

And, hey, while we're on the subject, where does Robert Rodriguez get off doing an homage to crappy films??? Maybe he should declare his entire career a schlock cinema tribute. Cover-up of the century, vato!!!

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