A Wildly Uneven Night at the Movies
Babes in tight shirts, revving engines, blazing guns, senseless explosions, gross out horror and missing reels: the new Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino collaboration Grindhouse promises to bring the kiss kiss bang bang fun of sleazy seventies exploitation cinema to the multiplex. Like their previous collaboration From Dusk to Dawn, the film blends Rodriguez' taste for trashy horror with Tarantino's ultra-violent crime cool, on top of a retro framing that hasn't been seen quite like this since Kentucky Fried Movie. Fake trailers and unappetizing advertising for a local taco joint separate two feature films, one by each director. But the double bill is wildly uneven, and you could be excused for cutting the night at the grindhouse short.
Robert Rodriguez' Planet Terror, an over-the-top zombie shocker, is great trashy fun that lives up to the spirit of its title. Rose McGowan plays a Texas go-go dancer who faces an onslaught of bioweapons zombies at a barbecue joint. Freddy Rodriguez and Marley Shelton provide lively backup. Planet Terror is shoddily shot and edited, frames are missing, and the stock looks like it's been through a hundred drive-ins already.
Every film geek knows what it feels like to unearth a movie with an outrageous title in the back of the video store, only to discover that the title was the best thing about it. Well, Planet Terror delivers exactly what the setup promises: gleeful gross-outs (including a melting penis and more exploding heads than I knew how to count), shameless boobie shots, and tough guys growling tough-guy lines. Freddy Rodriguez, cast against his mild-mannered Six Feet Under type, plays the tattooed badass who fits a machine gun to McGowan's severed leg. Like in many classic horror movies, there's even a contemporary political subtext, for those who like to look for it. Planet Terror is a four-star riot, bound to claim its place next to other cult zombie classics.