Grindhouse: Thunder Bolt Death Proof [Extended & Unrated](2007): Breakdown by Rantbo
Q. What if Tarantino made a late-70s, early-80s horror movie about a ‘Slasher’ that used his connections working in the movie business to choose his victims, and instead of killing them off one-by-one with a knife, he used his stunt-car to claim them all at once?
A. DEATH PROOF
Note: I Recommend Reading My Breakdown On Planet Terror, Before Reading Further.
Kurt Russell cums in his front cab when hot women die on a black-top slab.
DEATH PROOF was easily my favorite movie of 2007 and stands pretty high on the all-time list, so this breakdown might go a little bit longer than normal, but bear with me. I’ll do my best to keep my opinions entertaining.
One thing I must address before my praises, is the main argument of DEATH PROOF haters: The Talking. “I hated the girls, I hated the dialogue, it’s too long, the first half was boring…”, etc. And while I agree that there is an abundance of words and that the girls can become annoying, which, if watching this as part of the GRINDHOUSE experience, is compounded by a stark contrast to the previous bill, that spent practically NO time in this department, I disagree in seeing this as a negative. For two reasons:
#1. This is a film by Quentin Tarantino. His name was clearly advertised on the posters and in the trailers. And since even most casual movie-watchers know, his previous films are 90% dialogue, leaving me with one question to the disappointed viewers of DEATH PROOF: WHAT THE FUCK WHERE YOU EXPECTING!? michael bay’s movies come out in the summer, you should have tried reading the marquee a little closer.
#2. I understand what this movie intended to be, was and is—a slasher movie. And what happens in slasher movies? Girls hang out, they talk about boys, they take illicit substances, have sex and get punished. Carved in fucking stone, since 1980. And with most every great slasher flick (BLACK CHRISTMAS, HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY THE 13th, etc.) the first hour of the film is build-up to the demise of the stock characters. You get what you pay for, folks. And with DEATH PROOF, you get even more…
It wouldn’t be a Tarantino film without the genre twist.
-RESERVOIR DOGS is a heist movie, where you never see the heist.
-PULP FICTION is, amongst other things, a movie about two hitmen on job retrieving a briefcase, the circumstances of retrieving which lead to a split path of spiritual awakening and damnation, yet you never find out what becomes of one of the main characters. Not to mention, what’s inside the fucking case.
-KILL BILL is a tale of revenge, that begins mid-way through without delivering the full history of the circumstances until over 4 hours in.
And DEATH PROOF is a slasher film that begins half-a-day before the troupe of insufferable girls make it to the lake house for literal and figurative fucking. And they are killed before even getting there. It’s this style that defines QT’s movies.
If anything, I would think the people who don’t like all the talking would be pleased that the ratio of dialogue-to-death is so SHORT in DEATH PROOF when compared to it’s psychotic-killer movie cousins. This movie books to satisfaction. The whole slasher half of the movie is over in less than an hour and it has 5 of the greatest kills ever shot for the genre! If you don’t like slasher movies, fine, you don’t have to watch them. But don’t watch a film in a genre you hate and then bitch about how it let you down. Of course it did, asshole. Nobody twisted your arm to stick around after PLANET TERROR. Just grab your coat and jog the fuck on. That said, on to the fan boy blow-job part of the review.
What really makes DEATH PROOF a diamond in the wreckage of the action/horror cult genre, is how well Tarantino presents the unexpected, expectedness. The whole first half of the film just keeps building and building to these bitches getting creamed and then, allovasudden, whammo! It does. And it leaves you with a sort of “Well, that was awesome, but now what? That’s not all, is it?” frame of mind.
The slasher victims didn’t even leave their car. Much less, have a chance to run around half-naked through the foggy moon-lit woods surrounding Shanna Banana’s Daddy’s lake house, waiting for the set-up elusive boyfriend to show up in the nick of time to save the final girl. It was just a split-second of fear, then BANG!—darkness. Though it was highly satisfying watching Jungle Julia explode from brute force, it’s not much of a horror film if the main characters only have a split second’s knowledge of their impending doom…
Well, thankfully, Tarantino knew this and the movie goes on to deliver ANOTHER batch of girls. Making sure that this time, it won’t be so quick. And this is the genius of the film.
Not only does Tarantino cover the 80s style slasher film archetype of rooting for the killer (Jason/Freddy = Mike), he pulls a switch-a-roo and makes the second half an homage to the 70s style slasher film archetype of the vengeance fueled female (I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, FAIR GAME, THRILLER). It’s a two-fer-one in an ALREADY two-for-one double feature! Talk about bang for your buck.
And the way in which he pulls this off is fantastic. For the first half, when Stuntman Mike is introduced, he’s charming, funny, cool and an all-around old-school likable dude. His enigmatic demeanor and humorous way with words is hypnotic, making him an easily more likable contrast to the loud mouthed, sassy twats on which he preys. Thus making his dastardly perverted deed, not only incredibly enjoyable, but also just shy of forgivable.
But, how does one go about turning this icon of evil coolness into someone we want to see punished? By having a second set of take-no-shit females unveil him for what he really is underneath that hard and scarred macho shell. A giant pussy. And to do so with one of THE hands-down greatest car chase sequences EVER shot, is, well—again, it’s genius. Taking a slasher movie and mixing it with a car-sploitation flick is inspired. Inspired by classic drive-in ‘Grindhouse’ movies of the 70s and 80s. A ton of which are not only paid homage to with countless props and bits of dialogue, but also with straight-up verbal nods to the films themselves.
“…back in the all-or-nothing days, the VANISHING POINT days, the DIRTY MARY CRAZY LARRY days—the WHITE LINE FEVER days. Real cars, smashin’ into real cars. And real dumb people drivin’ ’em.”
Which makes for a hellova fun Easter-egg hunt for b-movie film buffs like myself. Then, complimenting the top-notch story, DEATH PROOF is also: Shot beautifully. Edited superbly. Performed by a wild bunch of women that you could swear were real life cliques. Features Kurt Russell being more badass (at least, when he’s supposed to be) than he has been since The Plisskin Chronicles. Unveils Zoë Bell as a tour-de-force wildcat stuntwoman AND actress. A kick-ass soundtrack of pure choice entertainment. Wide-eye, holy-shit spectacular NON-CG stunts. And it has one of the best and most satisfying finales I’ve ever seen.
I would be hard pressed to find anything negative to say about it. But, in an attempt to deliver some critique, I do think that Tracie Thoms could have toned it down a bit. I dig the sassy black-girl thing, but she may have taken it a little too far with all her Will Smithian “Ahwwww HELL NAW!”’s and “Mutha Fucka!”’s. Oh, and even though I can appreciate the ‘fun’ of not knowing, I would still like to know what happened to Lee…
In closing, I consider DEATH PROOF to be a modern classic in genre film-making and can’t recommend it enough if you are even a casual fan of b-action and horror. It’s a great film and I for one, love it.
[HOW BAD-ASS ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERS?]
Kurt Russell is Stuntman Mike McKay
Our hero for part one, at least the way I see it. Mike is essentially the Cowardly Lion from The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz—with a sexual fetish for crashing his car into obnoxious sets of women…
He puts on a great show of bullying, but the second that “little dog” bites, he breaks down like a bitch with a skinned knee. But, still—who doesn’t love the Cowardly Lion? Honestly, if Lion had had a thing for ramming Munchkins with his giant, oblonged head, and then jerked-off on their corpses, would he have been any less lovable? I think not. And so’s the case with Mike.
While in control, he’s the star of the show. A charismatic, well-spoken, funny, well-mannered brutal sadistic psychopath, that can eat the shit outtava nacho grande platter. What’s not to like about that? And as far as sexual delinquents go, Mike is pretty hardcore and original. Few perverts would risk shattered bones and trash their vintage muscle cars for ONE good load-blow.
The Girls — The 2nd Set: Left to Right…
Mary Elizabeth Winstead is Lee
Lee doesn’t really do anything. I pretty much just included her because she was in the above pic and because she’s played by McClane’s daughter and I really, really wanna fuck her. But again, she doesn’t really do anything other than inadvertently take one for the team.
Rosario Dawson is Abernathy
Make-up artist to Lindsay Lohan by day, enabler for insane stuntwomen by day-off, Abby is mostly just along for the ride. Until the end. Once the petal hits the metal, she drops her girlie-girl, fashion-obsessed personality, hikes up her skirt and opens up a big ol’ can of Brand-X Whoop-Ass.
Zoë ‘The Cat’ Bell is Herself
She was Xena, she was the Bride, and now, she’s Herself. And the benefit of being a stunt-woman and playing oneself, is that she does—all her own stunts. And what stunts they are! Her sequence on the hood of the Kowalski Challenger is, to risk sounding like a douchie movie critic, an exciting thrill-a-minute-ride! It’s not to often that I experience actual physical tension while watching movies, but I’ll be damned if my butthole didn’t pucker when the Charger hit the fan.
It’s rare when a woman can convincingly pull off being a Bad-Ass. Rarer still while playing themselves, as women simply contradict the term. Don’t get me wrong, women can and do Bad-Ass things, but to truly play a level of Ellen Ripley-Sarah Conner-esque Bad-Ass, it just doesn’t happen on any consistent basis. But, Zoë here, pulls it off. And in doing so becomes, pardon the pun, the driving-force behind the second half of the film.
Tracie Thoms is Kim
The “colored one”. Quote from the movie! I just thought it would be funny. Please don’t hate me.
Kim is the loud, sassy and swearing blaxspoitaion throwback chick. A stuntwoman by trade, she is second only to Miss. Bell. The female behind the wheel, Kim takes the role of the driver on this little Miss-adventure. Her tough-as-nails exterior only ever wavers when the thought of having lost a friend is foremost, indicating her a good person. But aside from that, this chick is in the business of kicking ass and business is good. Kim’s skills behind the wheel and gun are 99% responsible for Mike’s fate. And she works them with a grin. She’s no Pam Grier, but she wasn’t a bad thirty-something substitute either.
[THE BODY COUNT: SIX]
The Girls: 1
Awesome deaths, great pay-offs, I don’t want to ruin ’em, just check it out.
[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]
Jungle Julia Lucai
I hate to see her go—that’s a lie. I love seeing her go, but I love EVEN MORE watching her die. All her snarky, know-it-all, self-aware coolness comes to a shattering, limb-detaching end when Mike enacts his goo-shooting plan.
The special effects of Gregory Nicotero and his team are so lifelike it’s—disgusting. It felt natural to write the word ‘disturbing’ there, but I couldn’t do it, as I enjoyed it too much.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
I could try the old stand-by of cars being inherently macho and therefor gay, which I could then back-up by the fact that they are used inadvertently within this movie to swing the world population ratio in favor of more cock and balls. But I won’t, ‘cuz I’m a classy guy.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
All the girls featured are strong-willed and independent, and aside from the obvious fact that Mike slaughters half of them with his car, there is surprisingly little for a slasher movie.
Mike does charm (manipulate) himself a lap-dance from the elusive Butterfly, but do to the fact that it lacks nudity and is generally as tame as can be, there is little to gossip about. Butterfly, however, is still a stupid whore for participating.
Also, Lee get left behind in the sticks to be presumably raped by Jasper (Jonathan Loughran, reprising the role of the back-woods rapist from KILL BILL), but it’s unlikely that actually went down, as even though Jasper is clearly stupid, he still knows that Lee’s friends are due back shortly. So, I doubt very much that she was violated.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
Mike Breaks The Fourth Wall
Up until this point the plot had merely been simmering on medium-low, but the second Mike gives the audience his shit-eating grin-“wink”, the movie starts to boil and it isn’t too long before the proverbial movie pot is overflowing female hipster blood.
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
You know that old saying, ‘If you’re gunna be dumb, ya gotta be tough.’, well, here’s another version: ‘If you’re gunna fuck with women stunt-drivers, ya gotta be DEATH PROOF.’
[THE CHECKLIST: 12 outta 25]
[ ] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[ ] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[ ] Factory/Warehouse
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[ ] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[ ] Manly Embrace(s)
[X] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[ ] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[ ] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[ ] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[ ] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[ ] Torture Sequence(s)
[ ] Unnecessary Sequel
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice