Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Matinee at the Grindhouse

Despite being a dedicated, compulsive – okay, obsessive – film buff, I don't get out to the movies nearly as often as I'd like, especially over the past couple of years. Now, usually it's okay – I can catch up with the films I'm interested in on DVD, and don't have to deal with annoying audiences or bad projection. But, I really regret missing the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino double feature, Grindhouse, in the theater.

At the time, I was in the middle of that post-surgery sciatica "attack" that all but crippled me for two months, and there was no way I would have been able to physically manage – even with prescription painkillers – sitting in a theater seat for the running time of one movie, never mind two.

Last month, though, I finally managed to see Grindhouse – or more specifically, I purchased and watched the DVDs of the two films that comprised the Grindhouse double bill.

Now, it's not quite the same experience. For one thing, the two discs currently available do not include all the bogus trailers included in the original theatrical version (only Rodriguez' Machete trailer), but until the Weinsteins decide to release a combined special edition (I'm still waiting on the long-promised Kill Bill "The Whole Bloody Affair" SE), I guess these discs will have to do.

Now, I'm a fan of Quentin Tarantino's films, and have been since the weekend I rented the VHS tapes of John Woo's The Killer and Reservoir Dogs back in '93 or so. (That was a hell of a weekend and really kick-started my film obsession!) I like all of his features to date, and I like Death Proof, too – I just think it's his weakest film so far.

For an exploitation film, it's too talky and just terribly paced. The big action scene at the end is so adrenaline-charged and exciting that it nearly makes up for those faults, though. Kurt Russell is perfect in his role as Stuntman Mike, Rose McGowan is great in her small role, and the four girls that feature in the second half of the film are all excellent. Kiwi stunt woman Zoe Bell – playing herself – is particularly charismatic and fun to watch.

I like Death Proof, but it's far from my favorite Tarantino film.

Director Robert Rodriguez’ half of the Grindhouse double feature, Planet Terror, is a loud, violent, and cheerfully incoherent zombie pulse-pounder, filled with gruesome gore effects, over-the-top action scenes, and a game cast comprised of such familiar faces as Freddy Rodriguez, Michael Biehn, Michael Parks, Bruce Willis, Josh Brolin, Jeff Fahey and pretty much all of the director’s pals and family.

Rose McGowan was particularly great (again!) and is now my choice to play my comic book character, Femme Noir, if they ever make a movie.

I loved Planet Terror. I know a lot of folks found it uneven, but I consider that part of its charm.

I really wish the Weinsteins had released the theatrical version of Grindhouse at the same time as these "extended and unrated" versions of Death Proof & Planet Terror. I'm betting a lot of fans would have bought all three, and they still would have made their money.

Oh well. One of these days...


Charles Gramlich said...

I haven't seen these but will definetely do so at some point. I'm a big Kurt Russell fan personally.

Glen Davis said...

Gotta say, I liked Death Proof better when I first heard and believed the rumors that the film was actually shown in reverse order, with the ending beatdown actually happening before the first crash murder.

Craig Zablo said...

It was a fun experience to see it in a theater. I just wish that they hadn't gone big budget...