Welcome to my Grindhouse

Being a huge Quentin Tarantino fan and always entertained by Robert Rodriguez movies, I'm surprised it took me a couple of weeks to make it out and watch Grindhouse. Hey I've been busy, but with poor box office results I figured that it'd be pulled from the theaters in the next couple of weeks. So say goodbye to gorgeous spring weather made for yard work and say hello to the Sunday matinee!

I grew up in Northeast Indiana, which was fairly rural back in the day (now it's more saturated with suburban sprawl then ever, but still fairly rural). The closest thing to the "grindhouse" experience I ever came was the drive-in theater showing triple bills, with at least one of the flicks being low budget horror, kung fu, or sexplotation flick. The funny part is my mother would usually sit in the back seat, with me and my step-father in the front, so she could cover my eyes during if too much gore or nudity happened. Hey I was a pre-teen kid. With the Video Age rapidly growing in the late 80's, many of these cult and underground movies I would watch in my teenage years and beyond. Even today I am still discovering gems from the era...and many bad ones too.

Anyway, here is my take on Grindhouse. A few basic plot ideas are exposed, but nothing major or that causal readers probably don't already know. With that stated, you are warned.

Planet Terror - This is not Rodriguez's first foray into the horror genre. That would be The Faculty, which is essentially a different slant on Invasion of the Body Snatchers only with teenagers as the focal point (and yes, I liked the movie). Not surprisingly, Rodriguez says the idea for Planet came during the filming of that movie and years a head of the zombie explosion in horror.

The movie is rehashes some familiar ideas from Return of the Living Dead and 28 Days Later, with bio terrorists unleashing chemicals that infect the normal population turning them into zombies. Though here is that the infected aren't really zombies, they're just sick due to the chemicals. In typical Rodriguez fashion, the movie opens up with action and is action packed until the end. Even the over the top sequence with Cherry's machine gun leg is acceptable in the world of survival. And if you want gore, this one is full of blister popping and bloody explosions full of goodness.
Every time I watch a Robert Rodriguez film, I know that I can walk away satisfied. If for no other reason, he makes watching movies fun again. You don't have to think very much, just sit back and enjoy. And I respect the man even more because he does it outside the constraints of the Hollywood machine, proving to film makers all over the globe that you can be successful with out a major studio.

Death Proof - One thing you get with Tarantino is talking. Lots of talking. Usual about stuff normal people talk about...with heavy references of pop culture from the 70's into today mixed in. This flick is no exception.

The first part was all talk. Introducing a group of female characters and getting to know the villain and his weapon, Kurt Russel in a fabulous role. Then just when you think nothing else is going to happened. BAM! The the big whammy hits and hell breaks loose. An amazing sequence of the killer and his tool doing damage.

Then more talk begins. Introducing new female characters, establishing a new group of pals. You are left waiting. You are wanting anything to happen. You are begging for anything except more talking. As the story builds up, all the talking and waiting is forgiven with one of the best chase scenes ever filmed. It ranks right up there with The French Connection, Two Lane Blacktop, Bullitt, Vanishing Point, and Beverly Hills Cop. Alright, the last one I lied about since nothing else popped into my skull but you get my drift.

But it's not over yet. With a sweet twist of irony, another chase begins and the climax happens. Abruptly the credits role. While at first this abruptness seemed a bit strange, upon reflection it worked for me. Tarantino managed to again entertain me in a way no other director can.

The wrap - While I enjoyed the movie as a whole, and the fake trailers were awesome if you got the references, I found myself wondering. Would all the praise for the film still be occurring if it was directed by a random, unknown director or would it have been released directly to DVD? Guess we'll never know.

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