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April 17, 2007 > Grindhouse- A movie Review

Grindhouse- A movie Review

Directed by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez

There's no such thing as too much of a good thing, so when two of the most acclaimed directors of modern filmmaking decide to get together and make not one but two of the bloodiest, most twisted, most unbelievably over-the-top films in recent history, there's no excuse not to go (barring, of course, the age limit).

Let me put it this way: Tarantino. Rodriguez. Double feature. That's right; one ticket gets you in for two full length films (about ninety minutes a piece), each one worth the cost of admission on its own. First up is Robert Rodriguez's PLANET TERROR, a quasi-zombie flick complete with military conspiracies and machine gun prosthetic limbs. Rounding out the three hour and ten minute experience is Tarantino's DEATH PROOF, the high-octane story of a deranged serial killer who uses his stunt car to kill his victims.

In pursuit of their goal of recreating the experience of going to a 70s underground filmmaking double feature (commonly played in cheap, rundown theaters called "grindhouses"). Rodriguez and Tarantino pumped their pictures full of blood and guts, cheesy B movie one-liners, poor editing, plenty of overt sexuality, and even missing reels.

Audiences are even treated to a few fake trailers made by guest directors specifically to add to the double feature experience. Eli Roth's (of SAW fame) THANKSGIVING trailer (a spoof of HOLLOWEEN) is particularly hilarious, albeit quite disturbing. But that's the name of the game for GRINDHOUSE - scenes so horrifically outrageous and uncomfortably grotesque that you can't help but laugh. You'll look away from the screen only to notice everyone else in the audience doing the same. Fellas, your girlfriends'll bury their faces in your shoulder. Ladies, your boyfriends'll jump so high they'll spill the ten dollar popcorn. All of this makes the feature more of a community activity and less of a passive experience, much like a screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

What's the point, you might wonder? Why would these two masters of the art form decide to get together and make a couple of movies in an intentionally poor fashion? Because who cares, that's why! At this point in his career, if you've seen one Tarantino film, you'll see anything the guy does. Rodriguez has been a cult favorite ever since he made EL MARIACHI and the original DESPERADO. He's gained incredible recent renown with his masterful re-envisioning of the Frank Miller comic SIN CITY.

Don't get the wrong idea. The production values in these films are actually quite high. Any film grain, lens scratch, or dropped sound is in the movie specifically because Tarantino or Rodriquez wanted it to be there to add to the effect. The actors are doing such a good job with the (again, intentionally) bad dialogue that it's actually really good. All the action in PLANET TERROR is handled with the same delicate attention to grace and pacing as any other Rodriguez flick, while Tarantino's dialogue in DEATH PROOF is as witty, intelligent, and naturally-flowing as it was in PULP FICTION.
While these are both masterfully constructed films, it's worth noting that Rodriguez took a little more creative license with the genre than Tarantino did. With dozens of exploding heads, explosions, zombies, and a stripper whose leg is eaten and replaced with a machine gun peg leg, Rodriguez definitely seemed to have a little more fun with his segment than Tarantino did. DEATH PROOF is certainly good, but viewers will have to sit through quite a lot of dialogue before the action really kicks up. DEATH PROOF is definitely a major downshift in terms of pacing, especially after the no-punches-pulled PLANET TERROR. But let's face it: Tarantino is a master of dialogue - that's what we expect him to do well. Besides, the last thirty seconds of DEATH PROOF is worth waiting through even terrible dialogue, so it's just an added bonus that Tarantino's writing is so adept.

While GRINDHOUSE is definitely one movie going experience where you'll get your money's worth, it's certainly not for everyone. If you're easily offended by gore, swearing, overt sexuality, then maybe skip this one. If you were skeptical about KILL BILL but went anyway and liked it, you'll probably find GRINDHOUSE is a similar situation. Violence is a mainstay for any Tarantino or Rodriguez flick, so GRINDHOUSE has it in spades. These guys also love their beautiful women, and they don't mind flashy shots of cleavage or suggestive dialogue in the lease. In other words, DO NOT bring children to this movie. Get a sitter.

All things considered, GRINDHOUSE isn't quite as hardcore as the trailer would have you believe, which is actually a relief. It is more of a celebration of the sheer fun and entertainment of sensationalist filmmaking this side of a triple-X theater. Grab a bunch of friends, get plenty of snacks and use the bathroom early (it is long!). You won't find a better deal in theaters (a drive-in would be perfect!) for ten bucks.

Rated R

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