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 Robert Rodriguez & Quentin Tarantino's Grindhouse!!

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Donald McKinney
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PostSubject: Robert Rodriguez & Quentin Tarantino's Grindhouse!!   Sat Aug 02, 2008 12:47 pm

Grindhouse was born out of an idea by directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Rodriguez had gone over to QT's house, and noticed that he had alot of posters for double-bill's from the 1950's, 60's and 70's. One such poster that caught Rodriguez's attention was for Dragstrip Girl (1957) and Rock All Night (1957), mostly because Rodriguez also had this poster. Whenever QT would have people over at hid house, he would create a double-bill experience for them, as he has his own theatre, and a huge 35mm collection of old films, and he would cut them together, with trailers and the like inbetween. It was on this visit, that Rodriguez and QT came up with the idea for what would become their double-bill experience. They toyed around with ideas for what the films could be, ranging from Kung-Fu films to Spaghetti Westerns, but they eventually settled on horror. They would both do a horror film each, each one was to have lasted 75 minutes each, and they would have some old adverts inbetween, but the project grew and grew, until it was alot longer than it should have been, and the trailers eventually became fake ones directed by a few friends of Rodriguez and QT. Although audiences in America didn't 'get' the concept, Grindhouse (2007) is an antidote to the clean, prestine Hollywood films you get today, it's taking a step backwards, and showing audiences of today how it was originally done back in the good old days of exploitation cinema.

First up is Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror, which has has go-go dancer Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan), quitting her job and soon bumping into her ex-boyfriend El Wray (Freddy RodrŪguez) at the Bone Shack, a BBQ restaurant owned by J.T. Hague (Jeff Fahey), whose brother (Michael Biehn) is the local sheriff. Meanwhile, at a nearby secret military base, Lt. Muldoon (Bruce Willis) is making a deal with Abby, (Naveen Andrews), a scientist who has a supply of a deadly biochemical agent known as DC2. But, when Muldoon learns Abby has more, he attempts to take Abby hostage, but Abby releases the gas into the air, and it isn't long before it's heading into town, the gas turns people into hideously-deformed zombies!! Shocked Cherry and El Wray are soon attacked by some of these zombies, Cherry loses her right leg, and is taken to hospital. There, Dr. William Block (Josh Brolin) and his wife, Dr. Dakota Block (Marley Shelton), are having problems of their own, both on a personal level and as patients are coming in who have been infected by the zombies!! Shocked

Next up, after the fake trailers, (more on those later), is Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof, which is a film of two parts. The first bit, set in Austin, Texas has 3 women, Arlene (Vanessa Ferlito), Shanna (Jordan Ladd) and 'Jungle' Julia (Sydney Tamiia Poitier) on a night out, as it's Julia's birthday, but at the local bar, there's a strange man, with a creepy looking 1970 Chevy Nova outside. The man is Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell), who works in the film stunts trade, however, he's had his eyes on the ladies, and begins to stalk them in his car. Then, we're in Lebanon, Tennessee, where we're with a small unit of a film being made out there Lee (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Abernathy (Rosario Dawson), and Kim (Tracie Thoms) and ZoŽ (ZoŽ Bell), they have a day or two off, and ZoŽ has seen a 1970 Dodge Challenger she wants, however they have the attention of Stuntman Mike, who now has a 1969 Dodge Charger... Wink

Now, for the benefit of those who have seen Planet Terror and Death Proof seperately, yes, both films work much, much better as one film together, and yes, it works absolute wonders upon the big screen, especially if Grindhouse has been shipped around for a while, (like it has here), from cinema to cinema, as it makes the experience all the more authentic. Both films are shorter than the seperate international releases, but that's good, they feel tighter as well. Both films are very different in tone from one another. Rodriguez's segment is a zombie film with loads of CGI and special effects and some quite gruesome make-up, demonstrating what would have happened if films like this had never gone away, but they'd got their hands on modern technology. Rodriguez has always been a whiz with CGI, and is a director who multitasks, (alot of exploitation directors would do that.) QT's segment, goes in the other direction completely. He described it as his "female Eugene O'Neill play." It's certainly not as action-packed as Planet Terror, in fact, you can call it an antidote of sorts to it's supporting feature, for about 2/3's of it's running time, it has alot of foul-mouthed women talking, while Stuntman Mike listens on. But, when the action comes, especially in the last 20 minutes, it's really gripping and suspenseful, maybe more of the film should have been like this. Then again, it does have a great soundtrack, from the roaring opening theme, The Last Race by Jack Nitzsche, through to Jeepster by T-Rex, Staggolee by Pacific Gas & Electric and Hold Tight by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Titch. Razz

The one thing that neither of the seperate releases of Planet Terror or Death Proof had were the fake trailers that came between them. Although Planet Terror came with Machete, which was done by Rodriguez, and has starring Danny Trejo as Mexican immigrant Machete, who is hired by a corrupt senator (again Jeff Fahey), to do a hatchet job on the newly elected senator, but he's been double crossed, but as the trailer claims, "They Just Fucked With The Wrong Mexican!!" Very Happy There are 3 trailers between Planet Terror and Death Proof, beginning with Werewolf Women of the SS, made by Rob Zombie, who was inspired by Nazisploitation films. Wink It has an alleged plot by Hitler to create a race of super-women at Death Camp 13, which involves 'The She-Devils of Belzac'. It's biggest highlight, apart from the concept itself, is an appearance by Nicolas Cage as Fu Manchu!! ("THIS IS MY MECCA!!") Very Happy Next up, from the UK, is Don't, directed by Edgar Wright, who set out to make a 70's Hammer Horror, but the way it's promoted in the trailer makes it seem like it's being marketed for the American's, but they're disguising the fact it came from the UK. Razz Many know of it's highlights, including Nick Frost dancing in a nappy, and Katie Melua getting an axe in the head, but it features alot of blink-and-you'll-miss-'em appearances from Simon Pegg, Jason Isaacs, Matthew Macfadyen, Stuart Wilson, Lucy Punch, Rafe Spall, Peter Serafinowicz and Mark Gatiss!! Very Happy Then, it's onto the blood-splatter slasher flick, Thanksgiving, from Tarantino's "protege", Eli Roth. It's his version of Halloween or Black Christmas, and has a killer Pilgrim killing people in the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts (really Prague), during the Thanksgiving season. It also has a few people from Roth's Hostel films, (including Jay Hernandez), and also a couple from the two main features, Michael Biehn and Jordan Ladd. Thanksgiving is also the bloodiest of all the trailers, including some quite disgusting sights to behold, but we've come to expect it from Roth... Razz

The whole experience is much better as one film, as 2 seperate films, the whole feel is gone, the whole point has gone. It rather echoed what had happened with QT's Kill Bill, when that was made, pardon the pun, into a 'Double Bill'. Wink Either audiences didn't get the concept originally, or they didn't want to sit through nearly 3 hours of violence material. But, it's a great cinema experience, and the two films compliment each other, (Planet Terror is better than Death Proof), but they both look authentic. The horrendous print damage on either film see's to that, which ends up in a bad-picture quality, scratches everywhere and just to annoy the viewer, there's missing reels, taking out crucial bits of the story, (more so on Planet Terror, not as such on Death Proof, although the lap-dance is "missing". Razz) Think of it as the sort of bad quality that predates pirated videos. But, they both feature good, strong casts. Rodriguez got the likes of Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey and Brucie!! Death Proof is QT's chick-flick, and he get's good performances out of his female leads, but it's Kurt Russell's restrained and then manic performance that's the highlight. They're not films for everyone, but it does make for an enjoyable trip to the cinema.

Fake trailers here!!









If Grindhouse should ever play at a cinema near you, go and see it if you can. It's a great homage to the cinema experience of old. See if you can take someone who remember's the good old days of Double-Bill's with you. Although Double-Bills were popular in America at drive-in's and crumbling old cinemas in dirty old suburbs, we used to have them too, maybe on matinees or late night showings at the ABC or the Palace or the Odeon. It's a pity they went out of fashion when video came into vogue, we need stuff like this to get people back into the cinema's. As for Grindhouse itself, it captures the very best of raw, exploitation cinema back 30 years ago. Even though it's already been released as 2 films, seeing at one, as a 'A Rodriguez/Tarantino Double Feature', feels so much better, and so much more authentic. It's still a mystery why the Weinstein's though the UK wouldn't 'get' the concept of a double bill, as there were loads of them around years ago. Then again, audiences have changed and attitudes towards films have changed. So, it's a case of the right film but wrong audience. Give it time though, it'll get it's recognition one day, and be hailed as a classic... Wink
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