No, I'm really not trying to get ready for Halloween early. Even though I did go scoping a Halloween store just yesterday looking for props for a Halloween themed shoot. This week's selection does not mean that I'm that anxious for that "holiday' to come about. It just means that I was combing my archives for an idea for a Vault Pick and came across this past post that just so happened to be a good fit.
"Grindhouse" was one of those features that I had all intentions to check out in theaters. This was a rare instance where it didn't have anything to do with needing to enjoy the special effects in that type of setting. It was for the purpose of getting the full experience that Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez were trying to bring across with the concept of "Grindhouse".
Back in the 70s, there were run-down moviehouses that use to combine two B-movies for the price of one. The movies themselves took cheesy to an entirely new level. The trailers between the two films often showcased movies just as campy. This was what the two directors were trying to capture with their double feature.
Unfortunately, "Grindhouse" was separated when it was released on dvd. "Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof" hit first followed by "Planet Terror" a week later. Not only that but for some unknown reason, they only kept one of the faux trailers to further weaken the true "Grindhouse" experience. It's still better than nothing. However, I strongly recommend that you look up the faux trailer that didn't make the cut when you get a chance in your spare time.
It had been a while so I couldn't remember which movie played first as the double feature in theaters. Common sense told me that "Death Proof'" was first since it was released on dvd first. I forgot that this was a Tarantino project I was referring to. He is notorious for taking things out of order so "Planet Terror" was the first feature.
From the very beginning, a definite tone is set as this film is preceded by the fake trailer for the movie "Machete". Funny to note that this particular fake preview went over so well that it eventually went on to become an actual movie (which I own but have yet to watch). It is unfortunately the only faux prevue that they made the transition from the movie version of "Grindhouse" to the dvd release. It's obvious that it's intended to be campy humor, but the way it is visually presented carries over to "Planet Terror".
Since this is another entry into the zombie genre, Rodriguez has to bring something new to to the table to make it interesting. The image most associated with it is the stripper (Rose McGowan) with a machine gun for a leg, but that weapon doesn't actually surface until very late in the flick. It is really most of the characters which compose the motley crue of survivors that make it entertaining.
"Planet Terror" turns out being a bit of an action-horror hybrid with a little more heavily leaning on the action side. There really aren't many scary moments at all. Rodriguez instead relies on a lot stimulating gory visuals. The best of all being the one cameo of Quentin Tarantino where his character attempts to teeter the line between sex-craved zombie and human.
Although I still wish I could have seen "Grindhouse" in its intended glory in theaters, it is still very alluring on dvd. It is obvious from the crackling images and choppy editing that there is supposed to be an air of nostalgia while viewing it. I especially like how Rodriguez cleverly had a very 70s film moment during an erotic scene between McGowan and Freddy Rodriguez. The aura created by the film experience itself is what contributes to making this yet another Rodriguez success.