Film Review: Grindhouse


With the immersion of home televisions in the 1970’s, movie theaters struggled to try to get audiences off the couch and in the cinema. However, this would all change with the introduction of the double feature. Now for the price of one, audiences could see two films back to back. Were the movies good? Not objectively, but they were very entertaining. Low budget action/horror films shown in this manner became known as “grindhouse” films due to their explicit and graphic nature. 

Many filmmakers today have a deep appreciation for these types of films, many of which have re-created the experience in their own works. One example of this occurred on April 6, 2007 when Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino released Grindhouse.

The experience in the theater included two feature length films: Robert Rodriguez’s film Planet Terror, and Quentin Tarantino’s film Death Proof. They also played 4 fake trailers made by other filmmakers: Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving, Edgar Wright’s Don’t, Rob Zombie’s Werewolf Women of the SS, and finally Robert Rodriguez’s Machete, which he would later adapt into a feature film.

Warning: due to the graphic content, these two films are not recommended for all ages. 

Planet Terror features Josh Brolin, Freddy Rodriguez, Bruce Willis, Marley Shelton, and a standout performance from Rose McGowan. When a secret military deal goes wrong and a toxic chemical is released into the air, an epidemic starts to spread rapidly. All the acting is great, especially from the creepier performances by Josh Brolin and even Bruce Willis. The film uses a good amount of practical effects, but unfortunately also uses some CGI to create visuals that are otherwise impossible. With its truly shocking moments and unbelievable violence, Planet Terror is a wild ride you won’t want to miss.

Death Proof features Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Ferlito, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Eli Roth, an excellent villainous performance from Kurt Russel, and Zoe Bell as herself. While the pacing of the film is significantly slower than Planet Terror, it’s still a great movie by all means. When a group of young women are stalked by a mysterious stranger, they’re left with no choice but to fight for their lives. Kurt Russel gives a career best performance as Stuntman Mike, a shifty, mysterious, and unhinged man who was a stuntman on old television shows. Death Proof is similar to Full Metal Jacket in the sense that halfway through the film, the setting, tone, and characters all change. Many people claim that the latter half is the best, but I would argue that the first is truly the winner, with its dark tone and vibrant array of characters. It could be said that Death Proof is the weaker of the two films, but objectively it’s still worth a watch.

While the films may not have been a commercial or critical success upon their release, there is no denying that they pay beautiful homage to a bygone era of cinema: low-budget over the top action horror movies shot on thirty five millimeter and played two at a time. It’s an era that we’ll never get back, but Tarantino and Rodriguez did their best to give us one final taste.