The write-up of this film comes, in part, because of this weeks release of the Machete trailer. Machete was one of the fake trailers created for this and the Quentin Tarantino Grindhouse “Double Feature”. As fans of Robert Rodriguez know, Double R is a filmmaker in his own category. He’s one part Roger Corman, one part John McTiernan, one part Steven Spielberg, and the rest of the equation is balls out, bad ass filmmaking. Robert Rodriguez is successfully able to combine elements of different genres in a way that, had it been anyone else, the result would result would probably be an utter failure. RR,in the way Tanarntino make his films, goes for a style that appears to be a nostalgic but can be appreciated by all audiences…provided that most of the audience is over the age of 16 of course.
Planet Terror (one half of the Tarantino/Rodriguez tag teamed Grindhouse throwback films) is a film about a chemical “Terror” accidentally unleashed on the entire “Planet”. With a signature mix of action, drama and laugh out loud straight comedy, Planet Terror really makes you feel like your back at some Drive-In in the 70’s…mins the car of course. Given that so much of this film has elements that are laughably bad, RR pays homage to the films of old that were weird for the sake of being weird. I’d say he successfully pulled of a 70’s era doppelgänger. Going for a gross-out yet still laughably ludicrous plot, dialog and effects RR, made this film feel like a dusted off Grindhouse reel that still managed to make the audience of today squirm.
Basically I felt like I was transported to a different ear where people were easily grossed out by zany effect and a waaay out there plot. Double R makes great movies and to me, this one is at the top of that list. While I am a self-professed Zombie lover (hey they’re my guilty pleasure, I totally dug this movie…even though they weren’t actually Zombies. Rodriguez’ signature element is how his main character makes an entrance. The sequence where Michael Biehn, Tom Savini, and Carlos Gallardo entered the hospital was done with such style that I think everyone in the theater (or living room) probably had an action hero induced seizure. Many filmmakers go for a “slow motion” approach, but not RR. He makes his characters look bad ass and larger than life. Even Freddy Rodríguez, who really isn’t tall at all, was made to look like he could take on the world. And how did Double R pull that off?…by simply lowering the level of the camera. Whamo! Now you’ve got characters who really do look “10 feet tall and bulletproof“.
One thing I found myself increasingly liking were the characters and performances by Jeff Fahey and even Rose McGowan (who I’ve never much cared for). The were able to sell some pretty funny lines and where as Fahey was like the comic relief, Rose had some side-splitting one-liners intensified by the fact she tried to sell them in a super serious (and sarcastic) tone. “There’s a difference between being Frank, and being Dick“. Hey, to me it worked.
Much of the movie admittedly was bad hokey and laughable, but I loved every minute of it. As RR was emulating the style of the Grindhouse films of yesteryear, I’d say he knocked this out of the park. Brilliantly over-the-top and uber serious performances from Freddy Rodríguez, Michael Biehn and Bruce Willis, Planet Terror is just a fun fun movie that I like more every time I see it. On a side note, I had the DVD of this but picked up the Blu Ray version (because it was dirt cheap). One of the unexpected features on the BRD really appealed to me when I played the disc. Since the style of Grindhouse is grainy and scratchy by nature, the Blu Ray lets you watch it scratch free. Now that was a pleasant surprise that really appealed to me because the selling point of Blu Ray technology is the clarity. The transfer here is extremely gorgeous…or since this is a splatter fest film, I should say extremely gruesome and squirm inducing. All in all, Planet Terror is a great way to kill some time and day of the week and the replay value is pretty damn high. Three cheers for Double R!!
G-S-T Ruling – 4/5
G-S-T Seal of Approval – GRANTED