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Movie Review

Grindhouse Double-feature: “Death Proof” and “Planet Terror”

MPAA Rating: R for strong graphic bloody violence and gore, pervasive language, some sexuality, nudity and drug use

Reviewed by: Chris Sosa
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens, Adults
Genre:
Horror, Suspense, Thriller
Length:
191 min. (USA)
189 min. (Canada)
Year of Release:
2007
USA Release:
April 6, 2007 (wide)
Copyright, Dimension Films
Copyright, Dimension Films
Copyright, Dimension Films
Copyright, Dimension Films
Copyright, Dimension Films
Copyright, Dimension Films
Copyright, Dimension Films
Copyright, Dimension Films
Copyright, Dimension Films
Copyright, Dimension Films
Copyright, Dimension Films
Copyright, Dimension Films
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Dimension Films

How does viewing violence in movies affect the family? Answer

Featuring: Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodríguez, Josh Brolin, Marley Shelton, Jeff Fahey, Michael Biehn, Naveen Andrews, Stacy Ferguson, Nicky Katt, Hung Nguyen, Tom Savini, Carlos Gallardo, lectra Isabel Avellas, Quentin Tarantino, Michael Parks, Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd, Tracie Thoms, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Zoe Bell, Michael Bacal, Eli Roth, Monica Staggs, Tim Murphy, Marta Mendoza, Kelley Robins, Danny Trejo, Nicolas Cage
Director: Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino
Producer: Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Quentin Tarantino
Distributor: Dimension Films

“The sleaze-filled saga of an exploitation double feature.”

“Grindhouse”—noun—A downtown movie theater—in disrepair since its glory days as a movie palace of the '30s and '40s—known for “grinding out” non-stop double-bill programs of B-movies. “‘Grindhouse’ is made in the spirit of old Hollywood presentations, including trailers and short extra materials between stories.”

Quentin Tarantino is one of cinema’s most respected recent filmmakers. Due to his success with the “Kill Bill” series, fans have flocked to see any movie with his name in the credits. Robert Rodriguez, best known for his “Spy Kids” movies and “Sin City,” seemed like the perfect person to collaborate with Quentin on a venture to attempt recreating a “grindhouse” film. So at the helm of Grindhouse’s first feature, “Planet Terror,” is Robert Rodriguez. Quentin Tarantino directs the second film, “Death Proof.”

“Planet Terror” is an action-packed attempt at recreating a zombie B-movie. With stunning creativity and thoroughly entertaining dialogue, this is the best feature of the two in this reviewer’s opinion. Even trying to explain the plot would do this film a disservice, as the plot isn’t really the point. In fact, a coherent plot barely exists due to the fantastical nature of the film. This film is about recreating a “grindhouse” film, or maybe more accurately, satirizing one. And that it does with great affection. Popping and crackling film reels, cheesy dialogue, a “go-go” dancer for a main character, and fake trailers preceding the feature, no element of the classic B-movie was forgotten. The audience loved it, yelling in disgust at the blood-soaked visuals, busting out with laughter at the near-perfectly timed comic dialogue and situations, and booing at the “missing” reels.

The second film, “Death Proof,” actually seemed to be a grindhouse film, rather than taking itself lightly and satirizing the genre while mimicking. Quentin perfectly recreated a classic B-movie, using a time-honored car-chase revenge plot. Basically, the film’s main segment centered on a group of girls fighting for their lives against a crazed stunt-car driver, eventually turning the tables on the crazed driver and attempting to take him down. This more serious approach of mimicking, with little satire, seemed to be a disadvantage in comparison with “Planet Terror,” as this film was not nearly as amusing as “Planet Terror.” And the audience could’ve done without the plodding dialogue through the majority of the film to get to the high-speed chase at the end, even though the plodding was true to the genre.

Now for the content… This segment will be more of a summary than an exact recounting, as possible objectionable content was incredibly pervasive. The main concern will be the violence, and it was disgusting. One wonders how any film could possibly receive an NC-17 rating for violence if this film was rated “R.” While “Planet Terror” was infinitely more violent than “Death Proof,” both films were outlandishly violent. Blood streamed, bones cracked, and infected mutants’ lesions exploded, just to name very few elements. In fact, to cite numerous acts of violence in “Grindhouse” would only sicken many readers, as they were truly gratuitous. Recalling a recent more-violent film would be very difficult. “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” would be the closest. While the violence in “Grindhouse” is completely tongue-in-cheek, many viewers probably still will not be able to stomach it.

Sexual content is the second largest issue, and it is incredibly pervasive. Gratuitous boob-shots, rape situations, graphic dialogue, and overtly sexual situations are all present. And sensuality abounds, true to B-movie form. The first film opens with a pole-dance, setting the sensual tone for the next few hours. And it is important to note that sensual content is meshed with very violent content in many scenes.

Lastly is the language, and it is also very pervasive. As with many current films, anyone with any concerns about frequent usage of the harshest language would be well-served skipping “Grindhouse.” And just as a note, substance abuse is also present.

Spiritually speaking, this film is entirely devoid of anything worth mentioning. The most religious segment comes in the form of a fake trailer, and deals with a priest who becomes a brutal murderer. The rest of “Grindhouse” is a great lesson on how not to live a Christian life. Murder, rape, revenge… these films show the opposite of the Christian’s call to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors. However, it is extremely important to note that “Grindhouse” is never meant to be taken seriously, so the actions of the characters are never promoted in any way.

In closing, “Grindhouse” is a cinematic masterpiece, and entertaining in a way that not many other films are. Every tiny segment of “Grindhouse” is expertly thought-out and refreshingly imaginative. While these statement’s are entirely true, do not mistake them for an endorsement of the film. After all, artistic as it may be, this is pure exploitation cinema. So naturally many Christian viewers will probably prefer not to visit the grindhouse.

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—This is a movie that is definitely not for everyone, but for those that take the film for what it is will have a blast. There is a lot of violence, gore, sexuality and foul language, but much like the reviewer stated none of these things are promoted. Seeing this movie is almost like an event. When I went the people in the theater were laughing and clapping as the movie went along. It felt like a group experience. The one and only thing in the movie that could come close to being considered positive spiritually was a scene where one character rebuked another for blasphemy. That being said if you think you can stomach the offenses mentioned above you should have a blast watching “Grindhouse.”

One other thing of note for those who may not understand what grindhouse pictures were. These were movies that were usually shown at drive-ins or old run down theaters as double features. The movies were low budget and often low quality. There were few prints of these movies made and as they traveled they often became worn and even at times would be missing reels that had either been removed by projectionist or were damaged beyond repair. Grindhouse has been made in a way that replicates the look and feel of those old films. So know going in that the grainy scratched look of the film and the 70’s style animatics are intentional.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 4½
—John B., age 35
Positive—This is the most fun that I have had in theatres so far this summer! I loved every minute of this! Yes, it’s pure exploitation cinema, and is definitely NOT for the easily offended, but if you are a film buff, you need to run out and see this immediately! “Planet Terror” is basically a tribute to B-grade zombie films, but it’s a blast. “Death Proof” is the best out of the bunch, and features some really great dialogue and action sequences.

Kurt Russell deserves an Oscar for his portrayal of Stuntman Mike. I don’t want to say too much about either one, so I’m just going to leave it at that. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers. If you think you can handle it, then go NOW. If you’re sensitive to R-rated material, then you have no business going, because you’ll just be wasting $10 on a ticket for a movie you’ll probably be walking out of after the first five minutes… NOT for children. If you intend on taking children to this, you need psychological help.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 5
—Adam Renkovish, age 24
Positive—Thought this was a great film! One of the greatest films that I have ever experienced! Tarantino and Rodriguez are geniuses! I can’t wait for their next collaboration, because this was just excellent. The performances were excellent all around, and appropriately cheesy. Loved it, and would recommend it to film fans. To Rita and Karen, the next time you go to the movies, make sure that the film isn’t rated R first. That way, you won’t get offended and won’t waste your money. Do your research, so you won’t have to come here and bash this film. …
My Ratings: Offensive / 5
—Lance Schroeder, age 35
Neutral
Neutral—“…exploitation cinema…” Nothing can be further from the truth. And at the same time, I found this movie entertaining. Admittedly, I’ve been desensitized, and as such was able to sit through this montage of gore, blood, language, more language, sensuality, and loooooong conversations scenes. But I wouldn’t see it again. “Grindhouse” is an experience. I knew that going into the movie, and I knew that leaving the movie. It’s an experience I can’t quite verbalize; my only suggestion is to go see it yourself if your curiousity prompts you to.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 3
—Jacob Keenum, age 21
Negative
Negative—This movie is not fit; Christians should not watch this movie, I went on the blind and didn’t even hear of it. Nothing positive about it, pole dancers, rape scence and violence, God would not watch this stuff, so we shouldnt, I walked out. …Oh my what is the world coming to; what a shame the way Hollywood is letting things get this bad and women want more sex scences in Hollywood, no wonder divorce. Anyway please don’t go watch it, it is a stupid and waste of money. So sad world we live in.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 1
—Karen, age 27
Negative—My husband and I went to see this movie thinking it was a fun chiller theater type movie, like Planet 9 from Outer Space. Well, we were so shocked by the X rated preview that we walked out after 5 minutes. We received our refund. I wouldn’t see this movie if I would be paid. Extremely offensive. Nudity, sexual moves, pole dancers. We were appalled. Females in thongs, women kissing. Pure pornography. Do Not See This Movie!!!… The scenes stayed with our minds. We were misled. Rated-R, ha more like a XXX movie. Too bad we had to see this. …
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 1
—Rita Wetzler, age 53
Comments from young people
Positive—Taking into consideration that “Grindhouse” was intended to be in homage to exploitation and over-the-top cinema, “Grinhouse” itself was an excellent tribute. Robert Rodriguez’s segment, “Planet Terror,” was a stunning amalgam of classic zombie horror (“Dawn of the Dead”) and post-apocolyptic Sci-Fi (“Escape From New York”). Tarantino’s segment, while not another “Pulp Fiction,” was a film primarily about high-octane car chases, reminiscent of “Vanishing Point” or “Bullit.” Throw in some fake trailers directed by fellow B-movie hounds (“Hostel”'s Eli Roth, “Shawn of the Dead”'s Edgar Wright, and Rob Zombie), and you have the makings of a genuine exploitation double-feature.

Bear in mind that the point of the film was to be as violent as possible, and some content was cut out only weeks before the release to secure an R-rating. The film does contain gory violence, intense action sequences, some sexual themes (though we’ve all probably seen worse), and some of the most pervasive language uttered under the sun. The point of including this in the film is to give the audience a taste of what Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino grew up experiencing in Drive-in theatres; what shaped them into the extraordinary filmmakers they are today.

While the film contains some strong moral themes (good vs. evil, considering the needs of others before one’s self, etc.), they are not at the center of the film, and therefore are not enough to give the film more than an “extremely offensive” rating. The motivation for viewing this picture should be to glimpse into the world of grindhouse cinema, in respect to filmmakers. If you don’t have an interest in filmmaking beyond the entertainment aspect movies, then this film will probably not suit your taste.

Though this is not a film that most Christians will approve of, it holds a special place for me, as it was filmed very near to my house in Austin. I was able to meet Quentin Tarantino, and discuss with him his motivations for making the movie. He said, “I want people to see this movie the way I saw movies like ‘The Wild Bunch,’ and ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’—as an experience where I let my imagination go without any restrictions. Whether or not they start making movies is up to them.”

A lot of discernment should be used in deciding whether or not to view this film. It’s definitely not appropriate for anyone under 16 years old, and even then, only mature teenagers will be able to understand that the movie is not violent for the sake of being violent. It’s violent for the sake of being genuine.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 5
—Matt, age 17