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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    A double feature review: ‘Grindhouse’

    Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) climbs into his 1971 Chevy Nova SS in the Quentin Tarantino-directed segment of Grindhouse titled Death Proof.
    Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) climbs into his 1971 Chevy Nova SS in the Quentin Tarantino-directed segment of ‘Grindhouse’ titled ‘Death Proof.’

    Explotation at its best

    Take two of Hollywood’s hippest directors, mix them together with an homage to 70s exploitation films and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk with baking powder, detached limbs and timeless pop-culture references in a large bowl. Stir with sour cream, zombies, stunt cars and Bruce Willis, but don’t overmix. Finally, divide the batter evenly into two separate movies, sprinkle Rose McGowan with a machine gun for a leg on top and enjoy your mouthwatering theatergoing experience.

    Welcome to “”Grindhouse,”” Quentin Tarantino (“”Pulp Fiction,”” “”Kill Bill””) and Robert Rodriguez’s (“”Desperado,”” “”Sin City””) ode to the glory days of exploitation cinema. “”Grindhouse”” is structured as a double feature with a mixture of fake trailers by directors Eli Roth (“”Hostel””), Edgar Wright (“”Shaun of the Dead””) and Rob Zombie (“”The Devil’s Rejects””). The movie is a blend of contrasting styles and stories that explode on contact, leaving when the smoke clears, sitting among rubble, one of the most ingenious films of the past decade. But you best bring your catheter because this movie’s over three hours long.

    The first part of “”Grindhouse”” is Rodriguez’s segment, “”Planet Terror,”” an oh-my-god-there-are-zombies-but-we’re-too-busy-focusing-on-this-gratuitious-topless-shot horror flick. The over-the-top gore and action will keep you laughing, cringing and laughing some more.

    “”Planet Terror”” features Freddy RodrÇðguez (no relation to the director) as a gun-slinging badass who, with the help of his machine-gun-for-a-leg girlfriend, Rose McGowan, battles to stop Bruce Willis’s zombiefied military unit from spreading a deadly plague. Freddy RodrÇðguez does his fair share of zombie ass-kicking, and the movie rarely lets up its corpse-shredding pace until the end.

    The supporting cast also includes Naveen Andrews from “”Lost,”” Josh Brolin, Michael Parks reprising his roll from “”Kill Bill”” as the local sheriff and Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas. Thankfully we don’t have to see much of Fergie, as she “”tragically”” falls victim to zombies minutes into the movie.

    “”Planet Terror”” is followed by a short interlude of fake trailers (Nicholas Cage is somewhere in there), and Tarantino’s segment “”Death Proof.””

    In “”Death Proof”” Kurt Russell plays Stuntman Mike, a sadistic stuntman who stalks groups of girls in his black 1971 Chevy Nova SS. For the first time, “”Grindhouse”” loses momentum during Tarantino’s overblown dialogue scenes and pulls out of the exploitation film structure.

    When the movie finally does get to the car-smashing gore, it pays off. After finishing off four girls in a head-on collision, Stuntman Mike crosses paths with stuntwoman ZoÇ Bell (“”Kill Bill””), who plays herself. The movie also features Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Fertlito, Sidney Poitier’s daughter Sydney Poitier and Michael Parks, again, as the local sheriff.

    “”Grindhouse”” works wonders as a tribute to exploitation films, which by description means it’s not for everyone. But if you like gore, guts, GTis, girls and guns, don’t miss this film in the theater.

    – Andrew Austin

    Violence not so appropriate

    The driving force to see “”Grindhouse”” is Rose McGowan. A sexy go-go dancer forced to fight zombies with a gun attached to her leg? What else could you ask from a film? Well, in the case of this double feature, a whole lot more.

    Robaert Rodriguez (“”Desperado””) and Quentin Tarantino (“”Kill Bill””) are the masterminds behind “”Grindhouse,”” which is comprised of two films, four faux previews and one commercial. The term “”grindhouse”” refers to a theater that would show B-films, popularized in the ’70s, which often featured gratuitous sex, gore and violence. Rodriguez and Tarantino stick to the themes that were found in original grindhouses and bring them to audiences with this film.

    In Rodriguez’s “”Planet Terror,”” a small town in Texas turns into a zombie breeding ground when a poisonous gas is released and infects the populace. The film follows Cherry Darling (McGowan) and her ex-boyfriend Wray (Freddy RodrÇðguez) as they are reunited and have to fight off the infected – aptly called “”Sickos”” – with the help of a barbecue restaurant owner, the sheriff, two crazy babysitters and a doctor.

    The cast of the film is effective: McGowan redeems herself from her “”Charmed”” days by playing a go-go dancer who dreams to be a stand-up comedian, and Freddy RodrÇðguez is believable as a bad-ass gunslinger. However, while explosions and gore can be useful stylishly or as a comedic ploy, there is nothing amusing about the sight of Tarantino’s penis dripping off (he made a cameo in the film) or a child shooting himself in the head.

    In the second film, “”Death Proof,”” directed by Tarantino, a stuntman (Kurt Russell) stalks and kills women with his car. The more intriguing of the two “”Grindhouse”” films, “”Death Proof”” relies heavily on dialogue to set up the scenes and less on the explosions and violence that “”Planet Terror”” employs.

    Russell thrills in the role of Stuntman Mike: His physique suggests that he really could pass for a job as a stuntman and his long, unruly hair complements his crazed demeanor. Kim (Tracie Thoms) also keeps the audience entertained with her loud mouth and talent to enact the revenge on Mike that he deserves. Although it is never explained in the film why Stuntman Mike kills, the film is a welcome break from the loud theatrics of “”Planet Terror.””

    Both films provide the entertainment that most moviegoers look for, but at a price. The double feature clocks in at an extensive 191 minutes, so don’t wait until the 10 p.m. showing to check it out. The film is worth seeing not only for the street cred you will gather, but also because McGowan is very enjoyable in her roles and the faux trailers will have you leaving the theater hoping that Eli Roth does make “”Thanksgiving”” into a feature film.

    – Jamie Ross

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