In the realm of film collaborations, few have been as iconic and electrifying as the partnership between Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Their joint effort, the GRINDHOUSE double feature, was a love letter to the grindhouse cinema of the past, showcasing their passion for the exploitation genre and their remarkable creative synergy. Released in 2007, this daring cinematic venture transported audiences back to the glory days of gritty, visceral filmmaking while simultaneously reinventing and revitalizing the genre for modern audiences.
When it comes to exploitation cinema, few films capture the essence of the genre as boldly and unapologetically as Robert Rodriguez’s PLANET TERROR. The first film of the Grindhouse double feature, this blood-soaked, action-packed horror extravaganza pays homage to the B-movie classics of the past while injecting a fresh and modern sensibility. With its over-the-top violence, memorable characters, and relentless energy, PLANET TERROR stands as a testament to Rodriguez’s creativity and his love for the grindhouse aesthetic.
Set in a world plagued by a bio-chemical disaster, PLANET TERROR thrusts viewers into a nightmarish landscape infested with flesh-eating zombies. The film follows an eclectic group of survivors who band together to battle the undead horde and uncover the sinister truth behind the outbreak. Led by the fierce and gun-wielding Cherry Darling (played by Rose McGowan), the characters navigate a gore-soaked journey filled with action, dark humor, and unexpected twists.
From the moment PLANET TERROR begins, it immerses viewers in a world where chaos reigns and blood flows freely. Rodriguez expertly replicates the rough and gritty aesthetics of grindhouse cinema, utilizing intentional scratches, grainy visuals, and artificial aging to create an authentic B-movie experience. The film embraces the low-budget charm of its predecessors, amplifying the violence and gore to exhilarating extremes. Practical effects take center stage, with Rodriguez employing prosthetics, make-up, and old-school techniques to deliver jaw-dropping and often grotesque visuals.
This film features a diverse and memorable cast, each bringing a unique flair to their roles. Rose McGowan’s Cherry Darling is a standout, exuding strength and vulnerability as she adapts to her newly acquired machine gun leg. Freddy Rodriguez delivers a charismatic performance as the mysterious El Wray, while Josh Brolin and Marley Shelton bring comedic relief as a dysfunctional married couple. The ensemble cast, which includes the likes of Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey, and Bruce Willis, adds depth and personality to the film’s eccentric roster of characters.
PLANET TERROR seamlessly blends elements of horror, action, and dark humor, creating a unique and thrilling cinematic experience. Rodriguez’s direction strikes a delicate balance between shocking violence and comedic moments, resulting in an audacious and entertaining narrative. The film revels in its own absurdity, embracing the campiness and absurdity that defined the grindhouse era. It successfully captures the essence of the exploitation genre while infusing it with Rodriguez’s distinct style and inventive storytelling.
Although PLANET TERROR and the Grindhouse double feature initially faced a lukewarm reception at the box office, they have since gained a devoted cult following. The film’s unabashed celebration of exploitation cinema and its meticulous attention to detail have solidified its status as a contemporary cult classic. PLANET TERROR has inspired a resurgence of interest in grindhouse aesthetics, with filmmakers and audiences revisiting the B-movie genre and exploring its unique appeal.
PLANET TERROR is a blood-soaked love letter to the grindhouse era, expertly crafted by the visionary Robert Rodriguez. Its wild and outrageous narrative, coupled with its deliberate homage to exploitation cinema, make it a thrilling and memorable experience. Through its exploitation aesthetics, practical effects, unforgettable characters, and a perfect blend of horror and humor, PLANET TERROR embraces the essence of the genre while adding its own modern twist. As a result, it continues to captivate audiences and serves as a testament to the enduring appeal of grindhouse cinema.
Quentin Tarantino unleashed DEATH PROOF upon audiences as part of the Grindhouse double feature. This exhilarating and tension-filled film pays homage to the exploitation movies of the 1970s, specifically the slasher and muscle car genres. With its nonlinear narrative, razor-sharp dialogue, and dynamic car chase sequences, DEATH PROOF stands as a testament to Tarantino’s mastery of storytelling and his ability to captivate viewers with his unique cinematic vision.
DEATH PROOF revolves around the sadistic Stuntman Mike (played brilliantly by Kurt Russell), a sociopathic stunt driver who uses his “death-proof” car to prey upon young women. The film is divided into two acts, each following a different group of female characters who unknowingly cross paths with Stuntman Mike. As the story unfolds, Tarantino weaves a web of tension, suspense, and unexpected twists that keep viewers on the edge of their seats.
One of the defining features of any Tarantino film is the sharp and witty dialogue, and DEATH PROOF is no exception. The film is replete with memorable exchanges that reveal the depth and complexity of its characters. Tarantino crafts strong, empowered female protagonists who challenge the traditional conventions of the genre. The women in DEATH PROOF are not mere victims but resilient fighters who ultimately turn the tables on Stuntman Mike, showcasing the director’s commitment to presenting multidimensional female characters.
The heart-stopping car chase sequences in DEATH PROOF are a testament to Tarantino’s love affair with fast-paced action. The director masterfully stages these thrilling moments, blending practical stunts and visual effects to create an authentic and adrenaline-fueled experience. The tension builds as the powerful muscle cars tear through the streets, culminating in explosive and visceral collisions that leave an indelible impact on viewers.
Just like its companion film PLANET TERROR, DEATH PROOF fully embraces the grindhouse aesthetic. Tarantino meticulously recreates the look and feel of the exploitation movies of the 1970s, incorporating intentional scratches, film burn effects, and aging to capture the spirit of the era. Additionally, Tarantino pays homage to the genre by including references to classic films, incorporating vintage music, and even featuring actor Kurt Russell, who was a prominent figure in many 1970s exploitation films.
DEATH PROOF may not have garnered the same commercial success as some of Tarantino’s other films, but its impact on the world of cinema cannot be understated. The film showcases Tarantino’s ability to blend various genres seamlessly, creating a unique cinematic experience that transcends traditional storytelling boundaries. DEATH PROOF has become a cult classic, adored by fans who appreciate its intricate narrative structure, memorable characters, and exhilarating action sequences.
DEATH PROOF stands as a testament to Quentin Tarantino’s mastery of his craft. With its tense storytelling, razor-sharp dialogue, and explosive car chase sequences, the film pays homage to the exploitation era while delivering a fresh and contemporary take on the genre. Its strong and empowered female characters subvert traditional tropes, highlighting Tarantino’s commitment to redefining gender dynamics in cinema. This film remains a powerful and thrilling testament to Tarantino’s creative genius and continues to captivate audiences, ensuring its place among the pantheon of cult classics.
The Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino GRINDHOUSE double feature stands as a testament to the power of artistic collaboration and the enduring appeal of the grindhouse genre. “Planet Terror” and “Death Proof” transport audiences to a bygone era of exploitation cinema while injecting a fresh and modern perspective. The double feature’s unique presentation further immersed viewers in a nostalgic experience, emphasizing the filmmakers’ dedication to capturing the essence of the grindhouse era. Rodriguez and Tarantino’s passion and creativity continue to inspire filmmakers and cinephiles, ensuring that the spirit of grindhouse cinema lives on in the hearts of future generations.
These films are a must-have in every movie collection and they are available in three versions. The first is the full GRINDHOUSE experience, featuring both films as well as fun trailers. The films themselves, PLANET TERROR and DEATH PROOF, are also available individually, in extended versions with footage cut out of the double feature. If you don’t own these, but want to, just click on any of the Blu-ray covers throughout the blog. Which movie did you prefer and why? Let me know in the comments section.