tek's rating:

Grindhouse (R)
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Caution: spoilers.

This is a double feature, which came out in 2007, though I didn't see it until 2013. Actually, I watched the two movies on separate DVDs, and I guess each one is longer than it was when they were originally released together in theaters. And the DVDs don't include all the fake trailers that originally played with the movies, which is pretty annoying. Because I'm sure they were all great. (But I reckon I could probably find them online, if I felt like making the effort.) Um... so, the movies are kind of homages to "grindhouse" films of the 1970s, though they're set in the present. I don't really know much about that genre, though I guess technically grindhouse films could be of various genres, which might collectively be called "B movies" or "exploitation films" or whatever. And some of the movies I've reviewed in the past might theoretically be the types of things that could be seen in grind house theaters, I don't really know. Anyway, I wasn't entirely sure where to put this review, but I ended up going with "bad-ass." However, I later moved it, when I created a category for B-movies.

In any event, the movies have, at least part of the time, a graininess to the look (among other intentional "flaws"), which evokes the experience of watching movies in a cheap theater. Which is awesome. Even though I never went to any grind house theaters (I was born too late for that), I still feel rather nostalgic about the look and feel of the movies, which honestly, is hardly unique to grindhouse films. I think it's really more about old-school projection technology. But the movies definitely do look, at least some of the time, as if they were made with small budgets. I kind of feel unqualified to speak to how well they reproduce the feel of such films, but nevertheless, I think they nailed it perfectly. Anyway... I suppose I should review each movie individually....

Planet Terror
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streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; iTunes; YouTube

This movie is redonkulous. It was written and directed by Robert Rodriguez. Um... there's a go-go dancer named Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan), who decides one night to quit her job. Meanwhile, there's a scientist who had developed some kind of biochemical weapon. And there's a military unit that wants to acquire it, led by Lt. Muldoon (Bruce Willis). The gas gets released during a confrontation between the military and the scientist's people. Soon thereafter, there are attacks by zombies, or rather people who had been affected by the gas. There's also a guy named El Wray, who has some kind of dangerous, unspecified past, but basically he's just a total bad-ass. He reunites with Cherry, who is his ex-girlfriend. They meet unexpectedly at a barbecue restaurant run by a guy named J.T., whose brother is the local sheriff. Wray agrees to give Cherry a ride, but before they get far, they're attacked by zombies, who take one of Cherry's legs. Wray manages to get her to the hospital, but then he's taken in by the sheriff for questioning.

Meanwhile, there's a doctor named Block, who has to deal with all the craziness that's starting to happen because of the zombies. And he has a wife named Dakota, who is also a doctor. She's been having an affair, which her husband takes... badly. (He's kinda crazy.) And there are plenty of other characters of no major importance. But the zombies get more and more ubiquitous, so eventually everyone has to band together against them. Oh, and if you've seen or heard anything about this movie, you probably know that Cherry gets like a machine gun or whatever for a prosthetic leg, but that doesn't actually happen until much later than I expected. It's pretty cool, even if it really doesn't make sense that she can fire it without pulling a trigger, as if it was wired into her nervous system or something (which it clearly isn't).

Anyway, the movie has tons of gore and violence and all sorts of objectionable content, which is awesome. And it's pretty funny. And um, Quentin Tarantino has a role as one of the assholes in the military. Oh, and before the movie even starts, there's a fake trailer for "Machete," which proved so popular that it actually got made into a real movie, which I hope to see someday. And um, I don't want to say how the movie ends. But really, the whole thing is just pretty cool.

Death Proof
Dread Central; IMDb; Quentin Tarantino Archives; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; iTunes; YouTube

And this movie was written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Most of it is just people talking and shit, I mean the kind of talking that I generally don't like listening to, because I can be such a prude. In fact, I was starting to think I should put this review in some category other than "bad-ass." But eventually it does get bad-ass. So I guess I'll leave it here. (Edit: I later moved it to "B-movies," and I'm happy about that.)

Um... actually, this movie is almost like two movies. In the first part, there are some young women who are hanging out together, mostly at a bar. And there's another woman who gets to talking with a guy named Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell), who seems... sort of harmless. I mean, he's the kind of guy who people might potentially find sort of creepy or whatever, but who doesn't really seem to deserve to be seen that way. Anyway, he offers this one girl a ride home, though it's awhile after that before anyone leaves the bar. But when they do... it turns out Stuntman Mike is someone who definitely should be feared.

I don't want to say how the first part ends, but... it's not pleasant. Then there's a second story, with a second group of young women, whom Mike sets his sights on. One of them has an interest in test driving a classic car that someone has for sale. Two of her friends go along with her, while a fourth stays behind with the guy who's selling the car. During the test drive, Mike shows up and causes some serious trouble for them... but later, they turn the tables on him. And that is when I start seriously liking the movie. I still probably liked it less than "Planet Terror," but I definitely liked it better than I thought I would. And I guess I don't want to say any more about the plot. Though um... I am left wondering if the girl who stayed behind is okay. And also... you girls know you just bought that car, right? And I should say I dug the closing credits song "Chick Habit," by April March.

Anyway... there weren't any fake trailers on this DVD. So, yeah... actually, both movies are 2-DVD sets, so that's four DVDs, and only one fake trailer between them. That's some damn bullshit, right there. But otherwise, the whole grindhouse experience was fun. Especially since I did it at home, so I could pause it whenever I felt like it, and had some beers, and whatnot. It's kind of hard to imagine watching these movies without any beer....

See also Hobo with a Shotgun.

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