The Devil Says

See It


I am pleased. You just don't see sinning like this onscreen everyday. Three hours of hot chicks, mutating zombies, gallons of blood, fast cars, and no apologies. Grindhouse is sick and twisted, which is the way I like it. There's no socially conscious message. This is pure exploitation, and you know The Devil loves that.  In this case, you'll love it too.

Grindhouse is not a movie, but a theater-going experience that recreates a time now thirty-plus years in the past. Grindhouses were dank theaters converted from burlesque houses that showed pictures that couldn't get into regular theaters, usually as double features. The films were filled with all the things that polite society liked to pretend didn't exist: sex, violence, drug use, and delinquency. Since the profits were "modest" by Hollywood standards, acting, special effects, and production values left something to be desired, which only meant the filmmakers had to wow the audience with what they had to work with, and they often did. It also meant there were few prints of each film, which traveled from theater to theater getting more and more beaten up.

(Cripples are hot!)

Grindhouse is the whole shebang of what was.  It is a double feature of two flicks, planet Terror and Death Proof, that you won't want to watch with your grandma (unless you have a really cool grandma). Both have artificial scratches and burn marks, along with missing frames and an entire missing reel. Not only does this drum up nostalgia, it is damn funny.

The two features are joined by four trailers for nonexistent films, each one wittier than your average ninety minute comedy, and I'd love to see at least the first two made into real films for a Grindhouse 2. Machete would be a violent action pic about a pissed-off machete-wielding Mexican and his gun-toting Priest friend. Werewolf Women of the S.S. would bring back the glory days of Naziploitation but with the addition of furry women and Fu Manchu (Nicolas Cage over-acting wonderfully). Don't would be a standard low-budget horror flick. The trailer's joke is the deep-voiced, movie-guy speaking William Shatner-slow. Thanksgiving would be a standard Holliday slasher although the trailer is anything but standard, with more beheadings than you can shake a cleaver at, and the tag line: White meat, dark meat, all will be carved.

   (A very good doctor)

As for the features, planet Terror defies grindhouse tradition and actually delivers what it promises. The sleaze-factor is lovingly turned up high as we are presented with a parade of clichés gone wild jammed in so tight there's no time to breathe. It starts with depressed go-go dancer, Cherry Darling, quitting her job and running into her mysterious ex. He gives her a lift home, but wouldn't you know it, there are zombies on the way, which eat her leg. Normally, this would be a disturbing moment, but in a movie where a limb can be replaced with an assault rifle complete with grenade launcher, everything is fun. It seems that an argument between a mad doctor (who likes to collect his enemies' testicals in a jar) and a crazed military commander has released a biological weapon that's turning the locals into pus-covered, insane monsters with a hunger for human flesh. Oh, and lets not forget the psychotic doctor, his hot, lesbian wife who has a way with needles, the excitable babysitter twins, the child with a pistol, and a cute deputy that wears the new bare-midriff uniform.  Bones are broken, heads are blown off, and too many people to count are chewed on. Damn it is all entertaining.

Death Proof is a more subdued offering, with one hard kick in the middle and a climax that makes modern car-chases feel limp. Stuntman Mike seems like a pleasant guy, hanging out in bars and listening in on the conversation of a group of girls out for the night. He seems nice, right up until he starts killing them with his "death proof" car. But Mike plays vehicular homicide games once too often and runs into girl-power with balls (also with a gun, a fast car, and a metal pipe). When the cars start mashing, this is great fun. Unfortunately, it takes far too long to get there.  Most of the runtime is filled with chicks talking and talking and talking. They talk about boys, and what they did at work and what they are going to do later and...  Who the fuck cares?! They even geek-out for ten minutes on movie history (yes, I've seen Vanishing Point and Gone in 60 Seconds; if you haven't you'll find this even more pointless than I did). None of this excessive chatting develops the characters nor does it make you care about them. I suppose it is meant to lull you into a sense of security before you're hit with the intense carnage (think Pyscho), but what it does ist lull you to sleep. This is a grindhouse exploitation movie.  It needs to hit you over the head, not lull you into anything. The car crashes make up for the tedious talking, but it's close. This will be a winner on DVD when you can skip the pointless bits.

(Stuntman Mike saying "hello")

While Death Proof cools the excitement, planet Terror and the trailers are worth many times the price of admission. Overall, this is a kick-ass night at the theater.

But I do have one question for Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Tarantino: Where's the sex? Where's the T&A. These are grindhouse features, with violence and gore off the charts, but with nudity they are prudish. Sure, that's the norm in the U.S., where you can show as much blood as you want but a shot of a pussy is taboo. But I was under the impression these two didn't care about etiquette. You know, they're the rebel filmmakers. Well the only tits you're going to see are in the trailers. Wouldn't Rose McGowan strip? Check out the picture of her on the red carpet at an award show that's in the left column. She doesn't seem to be shy. I tend to think it wasn't the actress. It's no accident that the faux missing-reel in both films would have been where things got erotic (a sex scene in the first, and a lap dance in the second). Besides. they could always hire people just to be naked in the background. Guys, come on—you'll show a huge sore on a tongue breaking open and showering a man's face with goo, and you'll show a girl's leg being sheered off, but you won't show a nipple? That ain't right.

Sins (What does this mean?)

Pride Once Cherry accepts the sin of pride, she becomes a new icon of female strength.
Sloth Nada.
Avarice Nada.
Gluttony There's quite a bit of talk about wonderful barbecue.  The girls of Death Proof drink a lot, but things don't work out well for them.
Aesthetics Some of the shots in Planet Terror have a beauty rarely seen in real grindhouse fare.
Surrogate Cruelty Oh, so, so much.  It's an orgy of death and dismemberment. 
Thought Nada.  If you're thinking, you're missing the point.
Humor Planet Terror is hysterical from beginning to end, and the trailers are a riot as well.
Lust Here Rodriguez and Tarantino fell down on the job. There's some hot chicks in nice clothing, but they don't show anything you couldn't have developed at Walmart.

Buy It





Film Info

Runtime: 191 min


Planet Terror

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Cast: Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodríguez, Josh Brolin, Naveen Andrews, Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey, Tom Savini, Marley Shelton, Bruce Willis

Death Proof

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Cast: Kurt Russell, Zoe Bell, Rosario Dawson, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Vanessa Ferlito, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Tracie Thoms, Rose McGowan


Director: Robert Rodriguez

Cast: Danny Trejo

Werewolf Women of the S.S.

Director: Rob Zombie

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Sybil Danning, Udo Kier, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombie


Director: Edgar Wrights

Cast: Matthew Macfadyen


Director: Eli Roth

Cast: Michael Biehn



Rose McGowan

At MTV Video Awards
 letting us know she isn't afflicted by shyness.