Many moons ago, when Sin City came out, a friend of mine asked me how edgy it was. I replied that the movie was as "edgy as it gets in a Pulp Fiction sort of way".
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Well I just got back from seeing Grindhouse and find myself thinking of that moment. Because if Sin City was as edgy as it gets, Grindhouse is edgier than it gets. In essence, Grindhouse is what you get if you took the dark humor, excessive ultra violence and entertaining characters of Sin City and multiplied them by fifty. Then threw in quite a bit of camp for good measure.
Most people who follow the world of cinema have heard all the lead up to Grindhouse. How it's Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's love letter to those old exploitation films that were popular at drive-ins in the 1960s and 70s. How they decided that the best way to pay homage to those old exploitation movies was by making two new ones and releasing them together. How they set out to not only replicate the tone and look of exploitation movies. But the full experience. And so on.
All of the above is accurate. So at this point, I could just stop and say that the only question a viewer should have is "should I get a large or medium hot buttered popcorn? Go for the large bucket and the large soda too because the movie is three hours long.
What I said above about Rodriguez and Tarantino wanting to replicate the complete experience of viewing an old-school exploitation movie I meant. Grindhouse has the look and feel of classic exploitation, right down from scratchy prints on occasion to two instances of missing reels. Then there's the strong amounts of gore, sex and profanity, which make Grindhouse completely unsuitable for children or those wimps who are easily offended by this sort of thing (IE: Michael Medved). Everyone else, go in and have a ball.
Grindhouse is split into two separate films (as well as 4 fake trailers for fake exploitation films: the best of these is for the hilariously vicious looking Halloween rip-off "Thanksgiving" although Rob Zombie's "Werewolf Women Of The SS" gets points for audacity"). Both films run about 90-95 minutes. The first is "Planet Terror", written and directed by Rodriguez. The story features Rose McGowan as former stripper turned aspiring stand-up comedian Cherry. Cherry and former boyfriend Wray (Freddie Rodriguez) find themselves (along with the rest of their small Texas town) on the run from a massive gang of zombies. Zombies that were somehow created in a military experiment (watch for Bruce Willis in a cameo as a general who managed to kill Bin Laden). The result is a story full of sex, guns and gore, complete with action that rarely lets up. In addition to Cherry (who doesn't get the much talked about leg gun until the climax) and Wray, we also see Michael Biehn as your typical redneck sheriff and Josh Brolin as a crazed doctor who makes Dr. House seem like a perfectly sane, decent man.
Coming on the heels of such relentlessness, Tarantino's segment "Death Proof" may seem a little too slow at first. But hold on to your seats, because it does heat up. The story takes begins in Austin Texas where a group of girls (including a local radio talk show host) get together for some drinks at a bar. Also at that bar are Pam (McGowan again) a local girl who's had a past run-in with the aforementioned talk show host and Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) a mysterious guy who claims he doesn't drink and also claims he's worked as a stuntman. After Pam asks for a ride home, he offers her one. Before long however, both her and the other girls regret crossing paths with Stuntman Mike. Immediately following these events, we move to Tennessee where Stuntman Mike now is and so are a group of stuntwomen played by Tracie Thoms (from Rent), Rosario Dawson and ZoŽ Bell. Their paths cross with that of Stuntman Mike and much fun ensues before Stuntman Mike comes to regret crossing paths with these foxy ladies.
I've read some reviews of Grindhouse that tend to prefer one segment over the other. Personally I liked both, although "Death Proof: has a slight edge, in that it mixes action and dialogue quite well. In essence, Tarantino manages to pay homage to old-school exploitation and completely re-write it at the same time, while Rodriguez offers more of a straightforward homage with some contemporary references thrown in for good measure.
That's all I really have to say at this point. Just find a sitter for the kids and go see Grindhouse. Get some extra butter on the popcorn too.
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Movie Mood: None of the Above
Viewing Method: Other
Film Completeness: Looked complete to me.
Worst Part of this Film: Nothing