Planet Terror (2007)

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.

Rating: 8/10.

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  1. I love Planet Terror. Is it honestly Grindhouse? No.

    However, I've seen a lot of bad Grindhouse films. If making a good film means changing things up and not being 100% honest here, I can live with that.

    Gotta love that head explosion near the end. Good stuff!

  2. As much as I loved this movie, I have to admit that it's the LOOK and design of the movie that I love most. The smeary 70's color (like old Polaroids come to life!), the snap and crackle of the audio, the pseudo-distress of the film stock. It's the same reason we put up with a lot of 70's shlock. Nostalgia for a bygone era.

  3. You make a good point Carl. As much as Tarantino and Rodriguez love shlocky grindhouse-style films, they could never pull off a true one themselves. The closest they got are on "Reservoir Dogs", "Death Proof", and "Desperado", and even then their own stylistic touches tended to overshadow any chances of playing it straight. Not that I'm complaining, because I think they are both good film makers and I happen to love how they bring back shades of the past and recycle them through their own visions.

    But let's face it, if they made a true grindhouse film that was note perfect, they probably would be horrible films, as many of the real ones were either outright trash or just boring as shit. You see some intentional padding/lulls in "Death Proof", but even then Tarantino couldn't help himself and added in cool things for his characters to talk about while we waited around for Kurt Russell to kill them.

    So I'm glad they didn't make prefect recreations of those types of films. Imagine if "Black Dynamite" had been like "The Guy from Harlem"? I shudder at that idea.

  4. I feel the whole gimmick is a walking contradiction, I love the look of the film as well, but why make it 'look' like a classic grindhouse feature, but in all other ways make it entirely unlike the film? Still, I enjoy the hell out of Planet Terror, and think that the age and wear are handled superbly.

    I'd still like to see a follow up where Tarantino and Rodriguez returned to their low budget roots.