Grindhouse: Planet Terror [Extended & Unrated](2007): Breakdown by Rantbo
Q. What if that guy who made the Mexico Trilogy and FROM DUSK TILL DAWN (FDTD), directed an 80s style John Carpenter flick about the Zombie Apocalypse?
A. PLANET TERROR.
Planet Terror, as described by my in-head observations:
-Hey, it’s Sayid from LOST!
-Are those?—Yup, testicles. Gnarly.
-Fuck yeah, Zombies!
-Weird, Fergie actually looks kinda attractive…
-Is that Bran from THE GOONIES?
-Michael Biehn, Sex Machine AND El Mariachi!? Too cool!
-OK, that’s definitely Bran from THE GOONIES.
-Ha-ha, little kid killed himself.
-‘Bout time, machine gun-leg.
-Well, that was pretty fuckin’ entertaining. Time for Tarantino!
-…Those twins were hot.
I consider myself both lucky and privileged to be one of the 97 people that actually went to (and had the pleasure of) seeing GRINDHOUSE in the theater. Every so often I hear tell of another individual that shared in the experience and I know how special, they too, must feel.
Not only did I find GH to be my favorite movie of 2007, it’s also in my Top 3 movie going experiences of all time. Having followed the project since it’s proclaimed inception, I can’t explain how hyped I was. I followed all the casting news and announcements, listed to all the interviews, purchased and framed the poster, bought tickets a week early—which made no difference, as the theater was almost empty… AND I purchased both DVD’s and have since viewed them annually. So, it kinda goes without specifically saying, I loved GRINDHOUSE. Though, I say this when speaking of the project as a whole. And since I have decided to split up the two features, I have to judge the films on an individual basis and it’s here that my opinion changes, if only slightly, but it does.
PLANET TERROR is your classic B-Movie zombie-fest-splotation flick, with the added bells and whistles of a large budget and a handful of A-List actors, Including Josh Brolin and Bruce Willis*. Willis plays a glorified cameo as a special ops leader, who’s team purposefully unleashes a biochemical gas that turns humans into goo-monsters. And the rest of the story follows a handful of nearby townspeople as they try and escape the chaos and ensuing armageddon.
The movie is, of course, Rodriguez’s take on drive-in gore-driven horror movies from the good-ole-days, especially those of John Carpenter and George Romero. Though, relying much more heavily on the Carpenter. Rodriguez even borrowed pieces of the score from ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and along with it, a good deal of the atmosphere. But, unlike Carpenter, Rodriguez injects his own wacky FDTD style of cartoonist-influenced violence, that I’m not too big a fan of—normally. This movie being one of the rare exceptions. I think it works in this film, as all the characters are purposefully vague and one-dimensional (especially the main two), so the gags and effects have to pick up this slack by being self-aware and silly. Which they do, marvelously. The film’s hour-forty minute length cooks with rapid fan-service and wacky good times, which works great for the first film of this double-bill.
My Brain Tells Me “That’s a dude!”, But My Penis Says. “How about them tities!?”
With over-the-top gore, almost constant explosions and a Grade-A, B-Movie cast running, driving, and flying around a spooky fog-coated town blowing up “zombies”, really—what’s not to like?
To answer my own seemingly rhetorical question, just a couple little things…
While PLANET TERROR plays great as part of the GRINDHOUSE feature, I’ve found it lacking on it’s own. Without Tarantino’s classy, more-subdued slasher flick proceeding it, PT leaves me with kind of a hollow feeling. And I think it has to do with the almost complete lack of character development with the two leads, Cherry and Wray. Essentially, this film is their “Happy-Ending” love story, yet the very thing that originally worked so well, not knowing them, only seems to hurt in retrospect as I feel nothing for them in the tragic end. And, I know, this is a movie featuring a giant dripping mutated penis and a machine-gun leg, but what can I say? I guess the child in me is dead, but the longing for Gimmie-Gimmie-MORE! Still lives on.
But, I’m no snob when it comes to genre flicks, and despite my retroactive feelings, I still think PLANET TERROR is one hellova fun time and should not be missed for any reason outside of “good taste”. But if that’s what you wanted, you wouldn’t be here on this website reading this anyways, so check it out.
[HOW BAD-ASS ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERS?]
“Two Against The World.”
Freddy Rodríguez is El Wray The Wrecker
“That boy’s got the devil in ‘im.”
Who’d a thunk a 3’6” Mexican could kick so much ass? OK, I’m sorry… He’s 5’6” and Puerto Rican. But I won’t hold that against him, as he’s still a BAMF. Sure, it’s mostly in a comedic ‘I can’t believe THIS GUY is pulling off such a BadAss role!’ way, but I have to give credit where credit is due. El Wray is one bad little fucker. Hell, given that name alone, Woody Allen would seem like a man not to be fucked with. By saying which, I in no way intend to discredit Rodríguez. I thought he was great.
Equipped with duel-butterflies and an enigmatic past, Wray weaves a tapestry of badassery. Backflipn’ off walls and slashing and stabbing the infected scum to save his girl. And this before he even get’s his tiny hands wrapped around his bread and butter. Guns, ladies and gentlemen— guns.
It’s hinted that he has a past with some highly classified, unspoken government organization. The explanation behind which, having been “lost” in the intentional ‘Missing Reel’ of film. Which is genius. With a shadowy origin, leading to unexpected skills and traits, Wray becomes the story you didn’t expect you’d want to see. But hey, MACHETE is coming out next year, so maybe someday…
Rose McGowan is Fucking Hot—er, um Cherry Darling a.k.a. Palomita
“I have seen me some crazy-ass shit in my day, but I ain’t never seen a one-legged stripper.”
I think it was Jimmy Pop who sang, “A lap dance is so much better, when the stripper is cry’n.” Though, technically Cherry is a “Go-Go Dancer” (just like that hooker I once fucked was an “escort”). Darling opens the movie in a truly boner-educing stage performance that ends in tears. But, thankfully, it’s all uphill from there. But, like the saying goes, it’s a battle. Not to mention, a hell of a struggle with a wooden plank for a leg. To explain, shortly into the feature, Cherry loses her right stem in an industrial “zombie” accident and has to make do for most of the film with a makeshift replacement. Hilarity ensures, which later gives way to sheer badassery when her appendage is yet again replaced, this time with a M4 carbine machine gun with an M203 grenade launcher attachment.
Yeah, buddy. Cherry uses her newly acquired disability to wreak havoc and destruction to the infected human race. Utilizing her ‘useless talents’ of flexibility(#66) and go-go moves(#12), she paints a masterpiece of destruction in pus-tinted gore, that Billy Mayes (rest his soul) would’ve been hard pressed to scrub clean. So, in short, does Cherry Darling kick ass? Fuckin’ A right she does.
[THE BODY COUNT: THE PLANET [-] A FEW]
Fuck if I could keep track. I, mean, I have freetime, but, no. No-way, Jack.
Since it is implied by the title and the end of the film, the “virus” reaches the entire planet, and only a precious few survive. So, giving the human race a 10% survival rate and a world population of over 6 billion, I’d say—fuck it. I’m bad with math. A shitload sound good to you? Sounds good to me.
I did, however, keep pretty close tabs on Wray and Cherry, and I came up with an educated combined estimate of 85-100. Each of them scoring in the forties. And since neither of them really get killing until the third act (Cherry, the LATE third), it’s a pretty hefty score. And like I mentioned before, this movie has that sweet, sweet gore. So much so, I’m sure that they had someone employed on set whose duty it was to simply clean the snot off the cameras between takes. If that’s any indication as to what a BLOODY good time this movie is.
[MOST SATISFYING ASS-KICKING & DEATH]
Cherry & Dakota v. Rapist #1
“Dance, bitch! Break a leg! Break—it—OFF!”
I think there might be some unspoken clause that says if Tarantino appears in a Rodriguez joint, he gets to rape, or at least, attempt to rape someone. And seeing as how Tarantino wrote FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, I’m willing to bet it’s his contract that affirms this.
So, how does Tarantino one-up Richie The Rapist? Why, with an chunky, infected, jarhead rapist with a three foot mutated schlong, of course. Though, for some reason, the girls don’t seem too into it. Which explains Dakota shooting his ass up with her anesthesia filled “friends” and Cherry breaking a table-leg limb off in his eye socket and blowing his well-endowed zombie crotch off with a fuckin’ grenade launcher.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
Well, Sayid From LOST has some odd sexually repressed behaviors, getting off by cutting up other men’s beanbags and storing their testes in a jar. Which he keeps on his person at all times, for some sick-ass reason (sniffing, while masturbating—I would assume).
Though not gay, per-say, it’s certainly fucked up enough to warrant a mention, and seeing as how he clearly takes a sexual joy in the castration, what better a place?
Other than that, not much really. Michael Beihn and Jeff Fahey act like an old married couple and die in each other’s arms, expressing sentiments. But, they’re brothers. And then Freddy Rodríguez takes off his shirt, but he’s so tiny and covered in gnarly scars, it leaves little to get excited about. Plus, he does it in preparation to fuck Cherry. This movie just doesn’t want to have a gay-old time.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
Rodriguez has always had a thing for strong female characters, so even when he does show signs of exploiting them, it’s always under some odd circumstances that negate the feelings of anti-femininity. I.E. The strippers in FDTD are actually vampires, luring in their prey and the Grindhouse gals end up killing their would-be rapist before anything too emotionally scarring happens, etc. But I’ve grasped at straws before…
So, aside from the aforementioned rape sequence, Dakota’s hubby Dr. Block (Bran from THE GOONIES) has gradually lost his mind over the years dealing with her affairs and subsequently, his inadequacy as she has had them with another woman. Well, sort-off—they were with Fergie and I’m not entirely convinced. But, Dakota does show a sexual interest in Cherry, so mystery solved. She’s a gay.
“I’m Cherry.” – “You sure are…”
Filled with rage after discovering his wife’s plan to leave him for good, the good doctor goes a little off his Block and tortures her with her own set of mystery needles. And had he not been interrupted, it’s likely he would have killed her. Which, he tries to do later, but after becoming infected, so it counts less I think.
Other than that, there isn’t much to talk about. There isn’t even any nudity at the Go-Go club, but that’s because they’re not strippers, wah! However, you do get to see two of the ‘dancers’ kiss for like a second. But it’s barely worth mentioning.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
Cherry Becomes The Person She Was Meant To Be
The Peg-Leg From Hell finally gets unleashed. You wait the whole movie to see this badboy in action and thankfully, it doesn’t disappoint. Taking point in the escape from the town’s military base, Cherry delivers the film’s payoff like next-day mail. Utilizing all of her “useless talents” she mows down almost 50 mutated soldiers and ends her display by slippin’ on a pair of shades to watch the destructive fire of her efforts burn the corpses of her vindictive killing spree.
Cherry: [Crying] “I’m not leaving you, Wray. It’s two against the world.
Wray: [Dying] “It will be. I promise.”
“I never miss.”
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
Eat brains—gain knowledge. And “There’s a difference,” between Go-Go Dancers and Strippers—the choice of euphemisms for their ‘whorish’ profession.
[THE CHECKLIST: 17 outta 25]
[ ] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[X] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[ ] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[ ] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[X] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[X] Torture Sequence(s)
[ ] Unnecessary Sequel
[ ] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice
Photshop, Schmotoshop. I Got MS Paint.
*Interesting tid-bit, when told by Rodriguez that his character took out bin Laden, Bruce had this to say: “Who better?” This is why everybody loves Bruce Willis. Yippee-ki-yay, amen. Though it is never explained if Bruce in-turn gave himself his one million dollar reward…