Last Friday I had the absolute joy of watching “Grindhouse.” We saw the eight o’clock showing in a fairly crowded theater. Normally, I’m pretty anal about any noise in the theater. People that talk during a movie infuriate me, I can’t stand sitting too close to people I don’t know, and I think that a large group of people eating popcorn sounds like a swarm of locusts stripping crops from a field.
During “Grindhouse,” I not only tolerated the noises, but funnily enough I found myself groaning, clapping, and yelling out-loud at the spectacle I was watching on the screen. Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino created “Grindhouse” as an homage to the exploitation films of the 70’s and early 80’s. Robert Rodriguez wrote, directed, DP’ed, scored, and edited the balls-to-the-wall zombie flick “Planet Terror,” and Quentin Tarantino wrote, directed, DP’ed, and edited the awesome slasher / revenge flick “Death Proof.” In addition to these two amazingly awesome movies, “Grindhouse” tries to recreate the experience of seeing a double feature in a Grindhouse theater (if you’re unfamiliar with what Grindhouses actually were, click here.) When the film begins the “Coming Attractions” titles are in retro style fonts, a scratchy soundtrack begins playing campy 70’s music, and before the first “trailer” runs you know you’re in for an exciting movie experience.
Not only do all the bumper title screens look retro, Tarantino and Rodriguez asked a few of their friends to film several “trailers” for imaginary films to play before and between the feature films. Rodriguez actually filmed the first trailer, “Machete,” but the others were created by Edgar Wright (director of “Spaced,” “Shaun of the Dead,” and “Hot Fuzz”) Eli Roth (director of “Hostel” & “Cabin Fever”) and Rob Zombie (“House of 1,000 Corpses” & “Devil’s Rejects”). The trailers by Wright, Roth, and Zombie appear during the intermission between “Planet Terror” and “Death Proof,” so whatever you do, DON’T get up to go to the bathroom at that time. They’re almost as entertaining as the films themselves.
“Grindhouse” isn’t a mere double feature–no, “Grindhouse” is a freakin’ movie experience. You don’t just get two movies for the price of one. Oh no, you get the chance to see something that hasn’t been seen in America in thirty years. Gratuitous nudity, zombies, dismemberment, blood and pus, explosions, bar-b-que, serial killers, revenge, muscle cars that were made in America, and the baddest group of women you ever did see, all on the silver screen.
“Grindhouse” also did something I didn’t think a movie would ever be able to do: it portrayed Texas and Texans pretty damn accurately. I’m sure it helps that Rodriguez films everything in Austin at his Troublemaker Studios, but I’ve been to bars like the one in “Death Proof,” and I know guys that are as secretive and protective over their bar-b-que recipe as J.T.
Both movies are also surprisingly feminist. I’m not kidding when I tell you that you won’t see a badder group of women than the ones in “Death Proof.” Not only are those women beautiful, but they can stomp a mudhole in your ass and walk it dry. By the end of “Death Proof” I guarantee you’ll be in awe of Zoe Bell. Zoe, a real-life stunt woman, executes some amazing stunts on the hood of a white Dodge Challenger that’s racing down a Texas farm-to-market road. She also wields a lead pipe like a samurai wields a damn katana…but I won’t ruin it for you.
And I don’t think I really even have to mention Kurt Russell. Gone is the sissy Kurt from nonsense like “Poseidon,” “Dreamer,” and “Miracle.” Instead of that guy we have the triumphant return of Kurt “Jack Burton,” “Snake Plissken,” “Rudy Russo,” “R.J. MacRead,” and “Gabe Cash.” You won’t believe how cool Kurt is in “Death Proof.”
Despite a load of positive reviews and an aggressive ad campaign, “Grindhouse” didn’t perform so well at the box office. The Weinstein production company is now considering splitting the movies and showing them separately as a way to recoup some of the production money. That would be horrible. So please, please, go see this movie before it gets ripped to pieces. Trust me, you’ll have a good time. Tell your friends, have them tell their friends, and go see it. If you’re in San Antonio, or anywhere nearby, drop me a line…’cause I’d sure as hell like to see it again.