Grindhouse (2007)

(Release Date: April 06, 2007)

True Grindhouse Grindage!True Grindhouse Grindage!True Grindhouse Grindage!True Grindhouse Grindage!

Terror, Death, Destruction... Fast Cars, Faster Women...

J.C. Maçek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

Grindhouse is my kind of scum... fearless and inventive. It will come as no surprise whatsoever to anyone who has visited this site with more than a passing glance that I... Like... Crap!

Oh, not all crap, mind you. I've got no stomach for the usual gang of idiots that reside in Whoreywood. But give me a bad Italian Zombie movie or a ridiculous exploitation flick filled with murder and nudity or a nasty-ass bowl of dimly-lit, poorly produced midnight movie fare and I'm all over it like mud on a hog.

And I'm not the only one, mind you. Thanks to DVD, the old gruesome low-budget flicks that were ground out as fast as possible in b-movie houses everywhere years ago are receiving new life. Fans of Grindhouse motion pictures have (in some cases) become successful filmmakers in their own right and have made their careers with tributes and rebirths of the same films they grew up on. Two noteworthy cases are Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, two writer/ directors who have written their own checks with edgy, usually intelligent and always off-the-beaten-path movies reminiscent of their influence. Tarantino himself has been instrumental in launching the careers of new film makers and has gone to great pains to sponsor DVD releases of old Grindhouse flicks, introducing the fearless and the inventive to the next generation.

And now, Tarantino and Rodriguez are BACK... TO BACK! Teamed up with The Weinstein Company (specifically their imprint, Dimension Films), Quentin and Robert grip the reels, their knuckles white with desire, steaming at full force toward the silver screen, promising to impact head-on with destiny... each with a film of their own, each part of one double feature called Grindhouse... of course. Tarantino with Death Proof, Rodriguez with Planet Terror... each with the very flavors that made the Grindhouses both great... and awful.

Completing the package are mock "Snipes", evoking memories of the cheap theatres of yesteryear and four phony previews for movies that will never be (probably) directed by some of their closest friends. The posters are scratched and wrinkled, the standees covered in four-color lobby cards, the film appears (intentionally) to be scratched and badly damaged with "Missing Reels", bad splices, melted frames and Cue Dots. The subject matter: Pure Glorious Trash!

And Grindhouse is hilarious. True, most audiences (especially today) won't get many of the in-jokes and oddities. This is a film for people who love the (often bad) movies that Robert and Quentin love. However, Grindhouse isn't truly a "spoof" or even "send-up" of these semi-dormant movies. The most you can truly lay on the old boys is a charge of "Pastiche" here. Grindhouse is a tribute that shuffles and deals the best and the worst of the genre it forces itself into, come what may. You might not be able to take it seriously, but if you're a fan of these things or have an open mind, this is worth your time to check out!

After a snipe or two and a quick cheap 70's style preview (more later) we're treated to Rodriguez' entry into Grindhouse, the zombie thriller known as Planet Terror!

Without even a closing credit sequence for the audience to rest during (let's face it, some misunderstanding audience members might leave right then), Planet Terror is followed by more ads for "local" restaurants, the theatre itself and, of course, more movies. The beauty of these trailers is the delightfully self-aware nature of them. Like Planet Terror and Death Proof themselves, these previews feature current actors and (in some cases) technology with the low budget look and style of the midnight movies they pretend to advertise. It's as if these were being made today specifically for the broken-seated seedy theatres on the edge of town (right by that abandoned warehouse and across the street from the adult bookstore).

Before Planet Terror we were treated to the fake preview for Machete, the tale of an illegal immigrant hitman played by Danny Trejo who takes harsh revenge on the American Employers who set his ass up. It's delightfully over-the-top and ridiculous, with nudity, weapons and repeated flashes of the stylized title logo over and over again. One quick note... though this is a "Fake Trailer", apparently Rodriguez cared enough about the idea to make it into a spin off movie (due in Video Stores in 2008). Machete also stars Jeff Fahey and Cheech Marin!

During our "intermission" (as I so grippingly pointed out above), the fake trailers continue with Rob Zombie's superbly tasteless contribution Werewolf Women of the SS, starring Udo Kier, Sybil Danning, Sheri Moon Zombie and Nicolas Cage. This is the riveting tale of Hitler's evil plans to win the second world war and preserve the Third Reich with a nasty new horror that creates lycanthropic female super-soldiers. Will good triumph over evil? Did Hitler become so much Alpo? Watch Werewolf Women of the SS and find out.

If you're thinking of walking out of the theatre before the next preview... DON'T! As in... Don't Scream, Edgar Wright's terrifying new trailer documenting the Thrills and Chills found in an insane haunted house. Jason Isaacs, Matthew MacFadyen, Katie Melua, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost star in... Don't... DO see it! Beware... in other countries Don't (or "Don't Scream") may have alternate titles.

In the tradition of April Fool's Day, Halloween, Christmas Evil, Black Christmas and Friday the Thirteenth comes Eli Roth's nightmarish holiday segment called Thanksgiving! A deranged lunatic known as The Pilgrim (played by Jeff Rendell) dresses up in Mayflower-era clothing and kills his victims with a chopping axe or carving knife. No one is safe! Not Grandma, Human Turkeys, Screaming Girls, Lover's Lane Teenagers, or even hot naked cheerleaders! Jay Hernandez, Jordan Ladd and Michael Biehn star in Eli Roth's Thanksgiving!

The greatness of each ad, trailer or snipe is how perfectly they fit with the overall theme, the era and the genre itself. Again, though hilarious and hilariously over-the-top, none of these are truly much more outlandish than the subject matter they point to! The delivery is deadpan and so deliciously perfect, it's as impossible to resist for fans as it is inaccessible to the uninitiated.

And, of course, the very same thing can be said for the next full length movie in tonight's Double Feature: Death Proof!

On the whole, Grindhouse is a delight for those who delight in B-Movies. It could very well be a delight for those who appreciate tongue in cheek humor, regardless of whether they truly get the films this both mocks and pays tribute to. After all, not everyone truly HAS to get this to enjoy it. Similar themes went into the two Kill Bill movies to a great extent and into other Tarantino and Rodriguez films to a pretty darned good extent. The joy here is how self-aware the total project is. The joy is in the irony. Those who don't get it might be turned off by the nihilistic and outlandishly brutal tendencies found herein. Never does any piece of Grindhouse take itself too seriously, and nor should the audience. It's not intended to be Shakespeare, Coleridge or Blake. It's intended to be Fulci, D'Amato and Bartel. Speaking of intent... with so many classic B-Movie and Grindhouse resurgences popping up in Rodriguez and Tarantino films, I have to ask... why the HELL didn't they get Margi Newton out of retirement to be in this one??? Guys, I've been trying to track her down too, and I know it's not easy, but MAN would she ever be worth it! She could make an enjoyable film through-and-through an erotic mystery from stem to stern, from port to starboard, from breast to breast... let's talk!

That said, at a run time that exceeds three hours, Grindhouse may outweigh its welcome a bit... but JUST a bit... and the audience that remains will probably remain in their seats throughout the final credits.

Sadly, the audience that remains won't consist of that many, mainly because the audience that started wasn't so big itself. I give the Weinsteins and Dimension Films great praise for taking on the risky proposition of funding and releasing this big old film. After all, this is one long movie, consisting primarily of two movies that do their best to look, feel, sound, taste and smell like older movies that not that many people saw and even fewer people would give positive ratings to (I'm a fan... and I gave most of them Dogs). I was virtually alone in the huge stadium theatre I saw it in on opening weekend. However, those that did show up seemed completely into it, laughing and jumping at all the choice times. What does that mean? It will probably make a killing on DVD.

And I'll be in line early... Grindhouse films are great (even when they're not)... Therefore, Grindhouse is great (especially when it's not). It's crap, but it's intentional crap that pays great tribute to often crappy movies with low budget, most of which (credit where due) broke inventive new ground and taught film makers like Tarantino and Rodriguez how to make movies. Four Stars out of Five for Grindhouse. If you didn't get Kill Bill, you definitely won't get Grindhouse. If you're willing to try it out anyway, then hell yeah, climb on board. I'll be the newly skinny guy in the back row wearing a Ramones T-Shirt and carrying a shopping bag with Death Race 2000, Zombi 2 and Antropophagus in it. Till then, I'll be grinding out more exploitative reviews... see you in the next reel, Zombie Fighters!

Planets of Terror... Proof of Death... Houses to Grind...
All seen when you click HERE for more reviews!

Grindhouse (2007) reviewed by J.C. Maçek III,
Who is solely responsible for the content of this site and for the fact that he feels pretty darned good about Crappy Movies!
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