Saturday, May 12, 2007
The Grindhouse Phenomenon
When watching Grindhouse for the first time, I found myself asking one question and one question only: what the hell were Tarantino and Rodriguez smoking and where can I get some? Since then, I've seen it once more in theaters and I'd pay good money to be able to see it again, if only for the orgasmic rush of thrills, laughs, and intense entertainment that only Grindhouse can offer.
Grindhouse is, without a doubt, the most original film to come along in years. A love letter to the old slasher and exploitation flicks of the '70s, this film comes at you like a round of bullets or a speeding car and doesn't stop until you're in pieces all over the ground. Or maybe something a bit less morbid...
But no, this is Grindhouse! I've got a right to be morbid! The whole damn movie is morbid!
For those interested in going out for the Grindhouse experience, this is what's on offer: two feature-length films, Planet Terror and Death Proof, four fake (or maybe not...more on that later) trailers, and a slew of old "grindhouse"-style opticals and ads. To give away any more would be to ruin all the little suprises that await you.
Both films included are simply outstanding in every right. Planet Terror is basically Dawn of the Dead...on crack. And heroin. And pot. And maybe some other shit, I dunno. It's easily the craziest, most over-the-top, endlessly gory flick to hit the cinema screens in decades. There are clichés aplenty here, and instead of trying to avoid them, Rodriguez embraces them like a mother hugging her only child and makes them feel brand-new once again. A word of warning: Planet Terror is not for the squeamish. When the blood starts spewing and the limbs start flying, the weak stomachs among us will be found out.
Death Proof is Planet Terror's polar opposite. It's a slow, dialogue-heavy, character-driven thriller that only includes two action sequences. Personally, I loved just listening to these [mostly female] characters bullshit about guys and pop culture in a style that's so uniquely Tarantino, but for those who aren't up for it, just know that you'll be rewarded for your patience in the end. How, you ask? The answer is simple: the single greatest car chase ever to be put on film. Move over, Popeye Doyle, because Stuntman Mike's in town and he's gonna kick the living French Connection outta you.
And there's no way I can mention Stuntman Mike without giving props to Kurt Russell, who delivers one of the most memorable and most villainous performances of all-time. If he doesn't at least get a damn Oscar nomination, I'm suing. No, fuck that - I'm BOMBING. More on that at a later date...
The four fake trailers I mentioned before are as thus: Machete (Robert Rodriguez), Werewolf Women of the S.S. (Rob Zombie), Don't (Edgar Wright), and Thanksgiving (Eli Roth) - all great trailers, each with a different sense of humor about them. After some thought, I finally decided that my favorite has gotta be Machete, a delightfully over-the-top piece by Rodriguez that probably best represents the style of the trailers these pay tribute to.
Grindhouse is just a great fucking movie any way you look at it, but the sad fact is that it's become quite the flop at the box office. Some blame the bad release date (two days before Easter Sunday). Some blame the violent nature of the film. But in these eyes, the reason for the poor ticket sales is simple: nobody wants to see a trashy-looking, over-stylized, three-hour-in-length homage to some old movies nobody's even heard of. No average moviegoer, anyway. You hear that?! You guys suck! Or not...yes.
However, Grindhouse has definitely generated a cult. The IMDb boards for the movie are constantly active, fan sites have been popping up, and there's merch all over the place. Both times I saw it, there was only a very light scattering of people in the theater, but it's almost appropriate that only a few people came out. These are the people who get the joke, the ones that Grindhouse actually means something to...like myself.
Bottom line? Grindhouse is an experience not to be missed, and it's definitely one that I'll be calling a favorite. I've already got a poster, a shirt, and I'm working on getting the action figures currently available. Whenever the DVD hits (and it damn well better be a four-disc special limited collector's edition with special limited collector's edition packaging with a special limited collector's edition gold chain to wrap around it), I'll pick it up the first day. Grindhouse will live on in the hearts and minds of the fans until the end of time...two against the world, baby. Two against the world.
Or something a little less gay.
(BTW, if anyone's interested, all of the fake trailers can be found on YouTube.)