Thursday, 31 January 2008
I finally caught up with Grindhouse. Not the original three-hour extravaganza that's been denied us Brits, but the two component parts, Planet Terror and Death Proof, in their international extended versions. Watching the two B-movie lovefests back-to-back on DVD is about the closest one is going to get to original but with both running to nearly two hours, it was, to be honest, more of a chore sitting through them than I expected. Perhaps, I'd have liked them better slapped together in their original (and shorter) incarnations, surrounded by a whooping appreciative audience. Perhaps. Of the two, I preferred Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, a gruesome zombie movie which goes for the jugular from the word go, and offers more thrills, spills and exploding heads than 28 Weeks Later and the Dawn Of The Dead remake combined. And while the tone is deliriously OTT, Rodriguez’s direction is marginally more restrained than normal, an attempt to emulate the style (or lack of) of 70s exploitation flicks, along with missing reels, burn outs and scratches. But, as Rodriguez explains, on his Ten-Minute Film School extra, the film actually features more than 400 visual effects shots which, to me, kind of defeats the point of making something that’s a homage to the low-budget fare that both he and Quentin Tarantino are riffing off. Death Proof is a strange beast — talky and repetitive, but with a killer car chase — it represents the best and worst of the man. The dialogue is as wordy and film referencing as before, while Tarantino's foot fetish gets its most extreme onscreen work out yet, but since I didn’t care about the majority of the characters — the exception being Vanessa Ferlito’s Arlene — I didn’t care what happened to them when Kurt Russell's Stuntman Mike came charging at them in his souped up car. [That's not to say, I wasn't gripped by the clearly CGI-free car stunts.] Perhaps if both he and Rodriguez had stayed more faithful to the films that inspired, making theirs a little rougher, dirtier, and cheaper, Grindhouse might not have seemed so self-indulgent and might well have found more of an audience. Perhaps.