And, finally, it arrives. The second half of the Grindhouse extravaganza has finally arrived in the UK, with low marketing amd little hype. No wonder it did badly in the 'States. The fact that it did is a real shame, as the film is a real blast. When combined with Tarantino's Death Proof, it could be a fun, indulgent, glorious event to be treasured. Let's just hope for a full Grindhouse DVD.
One of the disappointments in the split was the question of the fake trailers - which film would they accompany? And would they all make it? Sadly, the answer is no. Whilst "Machete" makes it unscathed, the others will be probably be forever lost to UK audiences unless they find their way onto one of the DVDs. And when the trailers are as good as this, it's a shame that they don't feature. Whilst maintaining the tone of Grindhouse, it manages to complete the aims in 2 and a half minutes. With the incredible line "They just f*cked with the wrong Mexican!", it's no wonder it's been rumoured as maybe being made for a Grindhouse 2 - though obviously no plans have been finalised [and quite probably won't be, due to the fact that Grindhouse was, technically, a flop]. Basically, it's lovingly made and well executed, a perfect way to ease the audience into the full-on feel of Planet Terror.
Back to the movie - Planet Terror [a.k.a Grindhouse Part 2] is gross. It splats, it gurgles, it pops and oozes and drips. The first ten minutes include bio-chemical zombies, ball cutting and Bruce Willis, and it doesn't let up. Tension is, to be honest, fairly low, but luckily it isn't the desired effect from Rodriguez. The cheesy music and grainy look of the film is much more "grindhouse" than Death Proof [missing reels, corny soundtrack] and the tongue-in-cheek tone of the film is more leaning towards gross-out comedy shlock than downright terror. This keeps proceedings funny, sharp and always enjoyable, and means the film is more like the olden days, when posters promised more than the movies could provide.
Whilst this may sound like a criticism, it really isn't. Planet Terror never tries to be more than it knows it is and wants to be. It gives sly reference to the war on terror, without focusing on it, and knows that its concept is laughable. The icky bits are suitably slimy, the weird bits suitably weird, leaving us satisfied, if not blown away, by the outcome. I mean, how many films do you get to see where Tarantino's balls drip [yes, drip] off? And Sayid from Lost holding a big jar of balls?
This movie likes balls, and it's sure got some. It moves at a rollocking pace, Rodriguez amping up the action and laughs as the time whizzes by. The action is always fun, especially the final shoot-out [yes, with a gun-leg from Rose McGowan], and the characters hit exactly the right tone. Whilst the performances aren't always mind-blowing, they more than serve their purpose, especially Freddie Rodriguez as the insanely cool El Wray, who seems to be able to do things because he is El Wray. There are many parts like this, but Planet Terror feels no need to explain and justify its reasons.
One of the movie's main attraction is its balls-out attitude, summed up when Rose McGowan emerges with a gun attached to the stub of her leg. She looks incredible, simply cool in the way that a hot chick with sunglasses and a gun-leg is. The fact that it's willing to base the whole movie leading up to the this scene shows its daring and inventive feel. The finale does not disappoint, with a very satisfying ending, yet keeping with the tone of the previous hour and a half.
The direction isn't really anything special, Rodriguez focusing more on the feel and look of the movie than using interesting shot types. To say that it wouldn't fit the genre would be true, but Rodriguez need not worry - most people going to see this aren't going to nit-pick about the good-but-nothing-special direction rather than focus on what this movie's really about.
And what is this movie about? Is it a subtle comment on our fears of nuclear bio-weapons? Is it an intimate view of small-town america? Or is it just a dumb excuse for slime, monsters and stupidity? Well, it's none of these. Planet Terror is all about having a good time, with comedy, splatter and action combining to a very entertaining, if not earth-shattering, movie, that can be accurately summed up [in tone and subject] by the line "I'm gonna eat your brains and gain your knowledge"...
So, who's up for a full DVD with both movies and trailers?
Genre Value: 4/5
Entertainment Value: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5