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Monday, April 09, 2007 

Sex, Violence and Lots of Blood?

Welcome to the GRINDHOUSE.

Anyone and everyone who knows me knows I'm a Rodriguez/Tarantino head to the core; on their collective dicks way before it was cool to do so AND before the Quentin backlash began. So you know I was in line as soon as humanly possible on April 6th to see the nostalgia-laden GRINDHOUSE, a combined effort between the two that harkens back to '60s and '70s drive-in B-movie double features. With hilarious fake trailers starting the event and suturing the two films (purposely marred by "missing reels" and print damage) together in the middle, I had the time of my life or at the very least, the most fun one can have in a movie theater without being blown.

One could consider the Tarantino-penned "From Dusk Til Dawn" a dry-run for director Rodriguez's PLANET TERROR. Containing an almost absurd amount of gore and gross-out, stomach-churning moments, Robert's segment takes place in a sleepy Texas town suddenly overrun by flesh-eating zombies. El Wray (Freddy Rodriguez), a truck driving wrecker with a secret past and go-go dancer Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan, my boo since "The Doom Generation") are the heroes in a cast that also includes Dr. Dakota Block ("Sugar & Spice" and "Sin City"'s Marley Shelton) and a slew of credited and uncredited cameos I'd rather not spoil.

Most enjoyable for me was DEATH PROOF. I'm not much into horror or zombie movies so Tarantino's dialogue-heavy ode to female empowerment entertained me endlessly. Some will say it drags and it may even bore some others at times because it seems to be going nowhere fast but have trust, the ending is completely worth it. Be patient. The first half focuses on a group of girls, Shanna (Jordan Ladd, looking much blonder and thinner than she did in Gregg Araki's "Nowere"), Arlene (Vanessa Ferlito) and a smoking Austin-based DJ, Jungle Julie (uber-hot Sydney Poitier), letting their hair down during a night out on the town. Little do they know they are being not-so-silently observed by Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) and his reinforced "death proof" Hollywood stunt car. After successfully stalking them, Mike moves his attention to a quartet consisting of Abernathy (Rosario Dawson), Kim (Baltimore's own Tracie Thoms in a sort of "Rent" reunion with Dawson), Zoe (Zoe Bell) and Lee (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). But Mike just may have met his match when the girls fraudulently acquire a 1970 Dodge Challenger. The subsequent car chase segment not only proves that Tarantino is more than capable of directing action sequences (not that "Kill Bill" didn't already answer that question) but he creates something (and I have no doubt this was his intention) that can proudly stand alongside all the classics he has his self-professed "gear head" stuntwomen refer to, like "Vanishing Point", "Dirty Mary Crazy Larry" and the original "Gone in 60 Seconds."

For fans of Rodriguez and Tarantino there is so much to take in, so much to love. Rodriguez satisfies his fans, stays true to his Mexican roots, employing all the regulars you'd expect and keeps his body-snatching undead story firing on all cylinders by constantly and consistently providing shock after blood-splattering shock. Tarantino's dialogue was so engaging and real it had me talking back aloud at the screen, interjecting and wanting to take part in the conversation. His white-knuckle thrill ride is well worth your time and money. Like the old monster truck show ads used to say: "$9.50'll get you the whole seat, but all you'll need is the edge!"

Whew! It took me damn near a month, but I finally finished and posted my thoughts on Grindhouse. Words cannot express how much I really wanted to love the film. I had been following it for months, anticipating it more than any other film in years (no hyperbole; I've been burned out on the internet hype machine ever since I hated Shaun of the Dead - it was only on a second, unhyped viewing that I could get into it, then I realized how dangerous and stupid the whole thing was). This was the film that everybody referred to as "The Ed Film". I love this stuff, and yet I didn't love Grindhouse.

That reaction threw me for a loop, and in all seriousness, the fact that I didn't like it (or didn't like it "as much", as I still find it hard to admit) made me re-evaluate my own tastes, my own life in a sense. Maybe I'm not the geek who drools over my parents' nudies anymore. But then who am I?

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