Big budgets. Big name actors. And talent. Three things that would never be found in any of the films that filled the 42nd Street theaters throughout the 60s and 70s. Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino set out to emulate the Exploitation experience for mainstream audiences in their double-bill GRINDHOUSE, with mixed results. Rodriguez brings us PLANET TERROR, about a toxic bio-weapon that transforms half of Texas into deformed, pus-spewing maniacs. A lone band of survivors take on this mutant menace, lead by the one-legged go-go dancer Cherry Darling and her mysterious gunfighter boyfriend known only as El Wray. With a total budget of $53 million dollars and a cast that includes Bruce Willis, Rose McGowan, Josh Brolin, and others, GRINDHOUSE is about as far removed from films like DON'T GO IN THE BASEMENT and I DRINK YOUR BLOOD as anything could be. There is nothing cheap about the explosive special effects that plaster the screen in an absurd amount of blood. When it comes to the exploitation of violence and gore, however, Rodriguez knows his audience better than anyone, and comes out with another wildly entertaining thrill ride that assaults the senses from start to finish. As if to justify the use of the name "Grindhouse," Rodriguez ages the look of the film in post-production and removes a reel of footage to create a forced nostalgia, but PLANET TERROR is simply too large to ever truly fit in with its peers. The real Grindhouse experience would have placed both filmmakers under the same constraints of time and money as their predecessors, but where would be the fun in that? Regardless, gore fans are sure to enjoy PLANET TERROR in all of its head-splitting, gut-spilling splendor.
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