Great price for a double-bill classic.
Loud, fast, and proudly out of control, Grindhouse is a tribute to the low-budget exploitation movies that lurked at drive-ins and inner city cinemas in the '60s and early '70s. Writers/directors Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill) and Robert Rodriguez (Sin City) cooked up this three-hour double feature as a way to pay homage to these films, and the end result manages to evoke the down-and-dirty vibe of the original films for an audience that may be too young to remember them. Rodriguez's Planet Terror is a rollicking horror/sci-fi/action piece about a plague outbreak that turns citizens into cannibalistic murderers; it's heavy on the gore and explosions but also features a terrific cast of A players (Freddy Rodriguez, Naveen Andrews, Marley Shelton) and B-movie vets (Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey, Tom Savini) and the indelible image of Rose McGowan as a stripper whose torn-off leg is replaced by a high-powered machine gun.
Tarantino's Death Proof is the mellower of the two, relatively speaking; it's wordier (as to be expected) and rife with pulp/comic book posturing and eminently quotable dialogue. It also features a terrific lead performance by Kurt Russell as a homicidal stunt man whose weapon of choice is a souped-up Dodge Challenger. Tarantino's affection for his own dialogue slows down the action at times, but he does provide showy roles for a host of likable actresses, including Rosario Dawson, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, McGowan (again), Sydney Poitier, and newcomer Zoe Bell, who was Uma Thurman's stunt double in Kill Bill. Detractors may decry the rampant violence and latch onto a sexist undertone in Tarantino's feature, but for those viewers who grew up watching these types of films in either cinemas or on VHS, such elements will be probably be more of a virtue than a detrimental factor. And the overall vibe of absurdist hype--which is elevated to hilarious levels by a quartet of mock trailers by Rodriguez (the "Mexploitation" action pic Machete, starring Danny Trejo as a badass version of his Spy Kids character), Eli Roth (the faux holiday slasher Thanksgiving), Rob Zombie (the delirious Werewolf Women of the S.S. with Sybil Danning and Nicolas Cage as Fu Manchu!) and Edgar (Shaun of the Dead) Wright (a hilarious Hammer send-up whose title is its funniest gag)--goes a long way towards making Grindhouse one of the most blissful guilty pleasure nights at the movies in a long time. --Paul Gaita