Going to see “Grindhouse”? You need to read this.
Nerdgasm about 300 all you want, but it wouldn't take Roger Ebert to tell you that the past six months in cinema have been relatively…disappointing. Whether we're talking about Smokin' Aces , Black Snake Moan, or 300, the year so far hasn't exactly been one for cinematic masterpieces.
And now, this week, we’ve got Grindhouse. Combining Tarantino and Rodriguez with 30 years of low-budget shlock is a recipe for greatness—
–Which presents a problem. All of the aforementioned films, from Smokin’ to 300, sounded like recipes for greatness. Another panel-for-panel Frank Miller adaptation? Count me in. Jeremy Piven doing card tricks and snorting cocaine? I’m there. The only problem, of course, was that once those movies actually came out, they were tragically, unbearably, unapologetically, so-so.
And so, over the past few years, I’ve developed a system for dealing with films that look really, really, really good. Grindhouse is one of those films, and therefore I’ve decided to share my system with you, gentle reader. Basically, it goes like this: before going into the film, I read only negative reviews, I tell myself all the negative things I could possibly tell myself (potentially true or not), and I go into the film with the lowest expectations a human being can possibly have.
I did this for both Kill Bill and Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and I left both of those films more satisfied than a nymphomaniac at the Adult Entertainment Expo. I do not necessarily believe all the things in this list to be true, but I still think it necessary to confront these potential problems before entering the film, if only to make the experience that much more entertaining.
So here, without further ado, is the official Grindhouse de-hyping fact list.
The film was cut from an NC-17 to an R.
If the directors wanted to make the film true to the grindhouse vibe, then why pussy out and release only an R version? Why not release an NC-17 and an R version simultaneously?
It will be impossible to truly recreate the experience of a grindhouse theater.
No matter how grainy the film looks, half the charm of attending a grindhouse theater is the actual experience of sitting in a shitty theater with sticky floors and a rotten smell coming from the back row. People would yell at the screen, talk to each other, yell, shout, and generally act in a way that would be ridiculously irritating were it not for the fact that the films warranted such enthusiastic reactions. Though there are still douchebags who talk during movies, the other, grittier aspects of the grindhouse viewing are all but impossible to find in most cities: theaters are cleaner, audiences are more well-behaved, and the whole experience is depressingly impersonal. Releasing an NC-17 version would have amended this problem, because NC-17 flicks are usually relegated to the shitty-ass, rundown theaters on the other side of town.
“Death Proof” evidently has too much damn dialogue.
While “Tarantino” and “dialogue” go hand in hand, many preliminary reviews have said that Death Proof functions less as a rip-roaring grindhouse film than it does as a masturbatory love letter from Tarantino to himself. The entire first half of the feature is nothing but girls talking about nothing: not in the cool, conversational way the characters bantered in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, but in a meandering, pointless, boring way that seems like it was written by a Tarantino imposter rather than Tarantino himself. The female characters are evidently impossible to differentiate between, which makes the audience feel absolutely nothing when Stuntman Mike fucks them up.
Jeff Fahey is creepy as hell.
He may not have the biggest part in Planet Terror, but damn if he isn’t one creepy-looking son of a bitch. He looks like the lovechild of Michael Biehn and Brian Peppers.
Going to see Grindhouse does not mean that Rose McGowan will have sex with you.
Seriously, what the fuck?
It’s three hours long.
Tarantino or not, three hours is a long fucking time. Several reviewers have commented that the film would actually be better if both films were edited into one 2-hour-long orgasm of violence, and that (as it stands) the three hours is a bit excessive.
There are only four fake trailers separating the two films, and we’ve already seen most of them.
The entire Thanksgiving trailer has already been released, most of the Machete trailer was available in the very first Grindhouse preview, and the best part of Were-Women of the SS (namely, its main celebrity actor shouting and cackling like a madman) has been in several different previews. When R and T first announced the fake trailers, it seemed like there’d be a good half-dozen of them: as it stands now, only two of them will be more or less “new” to the audience.
Bruce Willis is only in Planet Terror for about five minutes.
Despite the fact that the entire marketing campaign is centered around his premise and the line “I’ll spin it for you, real quick,” his role is nothing more than an over-advertised cameo.
Same deal with Tom Savini.
Whether you like it or not, the story pretty much only revolves around Marley Shelton, Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, and Sayid. All the other badass celebrities are either in supporting roles or simple cameos.
Planet Terror is almost universally agreed to be the better film, and yet it goes first.
This ties in to the length problem discussed earlier: three hours is an easy running time to sit through, assuming you’ve got something badass to look forward to at the very end. Sitting through 90 minutes of circular, pointless, Tarantino dialogue wouldn’t be so bad if it was to be followed by 90 minutes of badass zombie-killing action. As it stands now, with all the action in the first half, the film will probably feel like Desperado: all the cool shit happens at the beginning, and the rest of the film is just kind of boring.
We’ve already been told about most of the really cool stuff in both films.
Missing reels, gun-legs, car chases, scratched negatives, and all the other gimmicky-but-awesome things about the films have already been revealed in the marketing. There will be surprises, no doubt, but not as many as there oughtta be.
Fergie’s in it.
If you find her attractive, then we would probably not make for good friends in real life.
There is no narrative connection between the two films.
Only about three or four actors appear in both films, and only one or two of those actors are playing the same character. So if you were hoping for some awesome twist ending in Death Proof to make sense of something in Planet Terror, you’re in for a surprise. The two movies are truly standalone, which makes Death Proof’s latter placement in the double-feature all the more depressing.
After this, we’re going to have to wait at least another year for either director to do anything.
Seriously, as good as Grindhouse may be, it’s still nothing more than two throwaway 90 minute films by two directors who should be doing bigger and better things. We won’t see Inglorious Bastards until 2009. No