MOVIE REVIEW ★★★ 1/2 'Grindhouse': Guts, Gore, Good Times

It Kicks Ass, Takes Names, and Then Googlebombs Those Names


Directed by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez

Written by Robert Rodriguez and Eli Roth

Starring: Rose McGowan, Nicolas Cage,

and Kurt Russell

Rated: R

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Trying to describe "Grindhouse," Quentin Tarantino's and Robert Rodriguez's double feature B-movie homage, is kind of like describing the Grand Canyon: sure, throw enough words out there and you can get the idea across, but why not just go out and see for yourself? Of course, the Grand Canyon won't have zombies, lots and lots of blood, and a hot girl with a gun for a leg; whether that's a good or bad thing pretty much determines if you should see "Grindhouse" or not.

The idea behind this movie, which is actually two movies (for a total runtime of about three hours), is to pay tribute to the old, crappy horror movies that dumpy old theaters would show, frequently as part of a double feature. Both Tarantino ("Kill Bill," "Pulp Fiction") and Rodriguez ("Sin City," "Spy Kids") are big fans of movies (not just films), and they grew up watching countless ones, some great, many crappy. It was a good time for fans, though, and "Grindhouse'"s recreation shows why: even though the movies themselves weren't particularly deep or artistic, they were insanely fun to watch.

In order to more fully plunge the audience into the era, "Grindhouse" features some trailers of its own, besides the theater's trailers (for actual movies coming out). I'll just come clean: if blood and breasts don't bother you, go see this movie just for these fake trailers. They were, quite probably, the funniest things I have ever seen in a movie theater. Advertising such obviously fake (but, as it turns out, incredibly authentic) exploitation movies like, "Machete," "Werewolf Women of the SS," and the ever quotable "Don't," these trailers set the mood for the whole evening, while providing some great laughs.

As for the movies themselves: first is Rodriguez's "Terror Planet," a zombie horror flick which features not just some cool action scenes but some absolutely hilarious one-liners. Seriously, it cracks me up just remembering some of them. The violence is, of course, wicked hellacrazy, featuring (but not limited to) a guy getting torn apart (on screen), a girl's brains being eaten (on screen), and a girl-with-a-gun-for-a-leg (on screens and TVs and monitors everywhere). Yes, fellas, there really is a hot girl (Rose McGowan) who kicks so much ass, she shoots it at the same time. We couldn't really figure out how she was able to pull the trigger with her mind, but little things like physics and common sense don't really belong in such a movie. To sum up, "Terror Planet" was so awesome, it kicks regular awesome in the balls, then cuts them off and grinds them into the dirt with its metal heels. While smiling.

Following this fun little movie, and some more faux trailers, is Tarantino's "Deathproof," a slasher movie where the bad guy (a scarred up Kurt Russell) uses his souped up stunt car to hunt and kill pretty girls (instead of just using a knife or a chainsaw). Here the movie-watching experience soured a little, due in part not just to the sudden realism and actual horror (not the hilari-horror of "Terror Planet"), but also to the slow and almost boring pacing. Still, it's a Tarantino film, so the dialogue, the characters, and the violence (what there is of it) are fabulous. Not the evening's high point, which is too bad since it's last, but still good and fun to watch.

Both movies are riddled with the hallmarks of the crappy old movies; stuff like spots in the film, lousy sound quality, and even a missing reel or two. In fact, were it not for my specifically wondering how they pulled off some of the special effects (like having a freaking gun for a leg), I'd have no trouble believing the movies were both actually produced in the bygone days of grindhouse movies. Still, the subtle sophistication that is always evident in Tarantino's movies, and the all-out, fun at whatever cost mentality of Rodriguez's movies, made "Grindhouse" their own, and that much more entertaining.

So sure, it might not exactly thrill your prefrosh's worried parents if you take them, but you might want to make time to go see this thing. It's not really for everyone, but if it is your thing, you'll probably love it.