Finally, a movie worth your $9: Tarantino, Rodriguez dish up a tasty double-entrée with ‘Grindhouse’

A slew of rough-and-ready zombie fighters prepare to dish out some ballistics in Robert Rodriguez’s “Planet Terror.”

****½ out of *****

I’m assuming you’ve been to the cinema lately, and I’m assuming that when you forked over that $9 to see “Are We Done Yet?,” you regretted the purchase almost immediately (and not just because it was a terrible movie). Let’s face it, folks: going to the movies nowadays can drain your bank account faster than a weekend in Vegas. $15 for a two-hour flick and some stale popcorn? Thanks, but no thanks, Regal Cinemas.

Seldom do I walk out of a movie these days feeling as though I’ve truly gotten my money’s worth. But “Grindhouse,” the new joint-venture helmed by directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, is one of those rare films that is easily worth the price of admission and then some – a pair of outrageously entertaining B-movies marinated in pure awesome and baked in a badass oven.

The movie is a double-feature (two feature-length films for the price of one), a brilliant concept that unfortunately and undeservedly died out over a decade ago. Rodriguez’s zombie splatter-fest “Planet Terror” leads the fray, with Tarantino’s octane-charged “Death Proof” bringing up the rear. The experience includes a six-minute intermission for bathroom breaks and concession runs. But who would dare leave the theater when they would be missing the score of hilarious fake trailers for films like “Machete,” “Don’t,” “Werewolf Women of the S.S.,” and “Thanksgiving”?

“Grindhouse” is a fantastic homage to the explicit, sleaze-riddled exploitation flicks of dingy drive-ins long forgotten; a dusty road trip back to the time of vengeful estrogen, cool cars, bad dudes, sex, gore and violence a-plenty. In its prime, grindhouse fair was the fast food of cinema: cheap, yet fulfilling entertainment produced for peanuts and enjoyed without much concern for its substance. If “Citizen Kane” was a lobster dinner, then typical grindhouse flicks like “Zombi” and “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” were double bacon cheeseburger combos with large fries and strawberry milkshakes.

Now, B-movies make their triumphant return with “Planet Terror” and “Death Proof.” Both films are simply fantastic; the very best in camp entertainment. They’re loud, crude and a hell of a lot of fun.

“Planet Terror” is a delightfully disgusting zombie flick of the most violent variety. Freddy Rodriquez stars as Wray, a dark loner who proves pretty handy in the resistance against the shambling hordes, while his girlfriend, Cherry (Rose McGowan), puts to good use the machine gun that replaces her dismembered leg. The film is ridiculously enjoyable, abundant with over-the-top action and gallons upon gallons of spurting blood.

It’s a slick and fine-tuned acknowledgment to the B-movie horror flicks of yesteryear, the kind of film that somehow manages to successfully repulse and delight at the same time. Rodriguez brings his heavily stylized visuals, crazy action and keen sense of twisted humor to the table and gets “Grindhouse” started with a big, bloody bang.

In “Death Proof,” a thriller of a car-chase deftly crafted by hipster Tarantino, the psychotic Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) brutally murders young girls with his death proof automobile. But when Mike messes with the wrong bunch of road-tripping chicks, they hop in their 1970 Dodge Charger and give chase. My favorite aspect of the film had to be the tough-as-nails female leads. In most horror movies, the women fall and sprain their ankles, and the men hoist them heroically over their shoulders to save the day. Not so with “Grindhouse.” These girls escape death and take revenge without batting an eyelash.

“Death Proof” is brimming with Tarantino’s signature sharp dialogue and spot-on soundtrack, climaxing in a seriously awesome pursuit across freeways, backwater dirt roads and wheat fields. As the adrenaline-fueled women stand triumphant over Mike’s prone form, “Grindhouse” comes to its end – but its exuding giddiness lingers for a long while.

The excitement “Grindhouse” emanates is immensely palpable, and the audience on opening night was ripe with cheers, jeers, applause and gasps. It makes a trip to the theater an event, and rightfully so. Its certainly not breaking any artistic boundaries, but “Grindhouse” remains, for me, an incredible film-going experience.

So this weekend, grab a few friends and catch a double-feature – I really cannot think of a better way to spend an evening than with a trip to the grindhouse.

1 comment:

All comments are strictly moderated by this blog's administrator. Obscene, hateful, or otherwise offensive comments will not be tolerated. Racist, sexist, or homophobic remarks have no place on this blog. Spam will be promptly reported and deleted. For more information on R#09's moderation policies, please check the FAQs.