Friday, February 22, 2008

Death Proof (2007)

Quentin Tarantino is, without a doubt, one of the biggest movie nerds in Hollywood. His movies are loaded with homages and references to movies from around the world, from the famous to the obscure. And I'd be willing to bet that he's probably forgotten about more movies than most people have actually seen. But while he may be a faithful student of cinema as a whole, Tarantino is a quite vocal fan of old exploitation movies. And it was because of this affection that he teamed up with fellow director Robert Rodriguez to create Grindhouse.

A pair of pseudo-exploitation movies directed by Tarantino and Rodriguez and released theatrically in the United States as a double feature, Grindhouse wasn't exactly a box office success. Frankly, it was a big fat bomb. In an apparent attempt to recoup some of their losses, Dimension Films and the Weinstein Company separated the two halves — Rodriguez's Planet Terror and Tarantino's Death Proof — and gave them individual releases when they landed on DVD. Though I loved Rodriguez's contribution, Tarantino's half left me disappointed. Why? Because Death Proof is a long-winded, self-indulgent snoozefest that, in spite of a handful of great elements and moments, is really just one big sour note.

"Jungle Julia" Lucai (Sydney Tamiia Poitier) is the hottest DJ in all of Austin, Texas. And to celebrate her birthday, Julia and two friends, Arlene (Vanessa Ferlito) and Shanna (Jordan Ladd), are hitting the town. They spend the day and night at a bar, getting drunk out of their minds, rebuffing the advances of some overeager frat boys, and exchanging catty remarks with Pam (Rose McGowan), a childhood rival of Julia's. But what they don't know is that they're all being studied from afar by a guy who identifies himself as Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell), a scarred Hollywood stunt double. Though he's a bit off-putting, Stuntman Mike charms the four girls, spending the evening flirting with them and having some fun.

The night goes on and everyone begins to go their separate ways. Julia, Arlene, and Shanna catch a ride with Julia's pot dealer Lanna Frank (Monica Staggs), while Stuntman Mike offers Pam a ride home. Now this is where the real fun begins. It turns out that Stuntman Mike's customized muscle car is "death proof," allowing him to crash into a brick wall at 100 miles an hour and walk away. Unfortunately for all five girls, surviving only happens if you're in the driver's seat of his car. Before long, Stuntman Mike has killed Pam, then takes out the other four in a violent car crash.

Fast forward fourteen months later to Franklin, Tennessee. It is here that we are introduced to a new group of girls: Abernathy (Rosario Dawson), Lee (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and Kim (Tracie Thoms). With a few days off from the set of a movie they're working on, they decide they're going to have a little fun around town. They pick up a friend, Zoë Bell (playing herself), at the airport, and hit up a local diner. It is here that Zoë informs the others that she's heard about someone selling a 1970 Dodge Challenger in the area. Turns out it's a nearly exact replica of the car from her favorite movie, Vanishing Point, and she wants to test drive it.

But once they get behind the wheel, Zoë reveals her true intentions. The truth of the matter is that she didn't want to just test drive the car; she wants to use it to play a dangerous game called "ship's mast," where someone hangs onto the hood of a car while someone else drives it at high speeds. Though skittish about it, her friends agree to play along. Zoë's a trained stuntwoman, what could go wrong? Lots of things, but one in particular. Stuntman Mike has been following the girls, and chooses this moment of vulnerability to strike, chasing them through the hills of Tennessee. But little does Stuntman Mike know that his prey are no ordinary victims, nor does he know just how vicious they will be when they strike back.

Death Proof is a shining example of what wasted potential looks like. The movie has some elements that could make it great, but its flaws are too great to overcome. What really grinds my gears about Death Proof is that, prior to it being released theatrically, I kept hearing that it was supposed to be a slasher movie. I don't know what movie the guys taking care of Grindhouse's promotional material were watching, but Death Proof isn't like any slasher movie I've ever seen. It isn't even like any horror movie I've ever seen. Had Tarantino followed the typical slasher movie formula, it might have been a damn good movie. But no, he had to go and ignore the tried and true formula that worked for hundreds of movies during the '80s. The result? Tarantino's made perhaps the worst movie of his career. And that's terrible.

Tarantino has never really been the most technically savvy director. He usually has the camera stuck somewhere and lets the actors do their thing. He got a little braver with Kill Bill, and continues that with Death Proof. He even does all the cinematography too, and his work is actually pretty killer. The movie looks really good, with some great camera shots and a real sense of energy during the key scenes.

There is one weird thing I picked up, though. Part of Grindhouse's gimmick is the idea that the film prints were going to look damaged, full of blemishes, choppy editing, and general wear and tear. And that's what's in the first half. It's not to the extreme that Planet Terror takes it to, but it's there to an acceptable degree. But once we move to Death Proof's second half, that all changes. Except for two very brief instances, the gimmick all but disappears with no explanation. At least, no explanation that I could find. Why drop the gimmick for no reason halfway through the movie? Even if it served no purpose, at least it could have been kept there for consistency.

But while I otherwise liked Tarantino's work as the director, it's his script that really grinds my gears. Seriously, this has to be one of the most poorly-written movies I've ever seen. There's nothing resembling any sort of structure or anything like that. It's like Tarantino just sat down and wrote everything that came to mind, then cobbled it all together and called it a script. There's no development at all, neither with the characters or the plot. It's pitiful. The characters sit around and have conversations that go absolutely nowhere, which goes on for about an hour before Stuntman Mike shows up and attacks them. For all they're worth, Tarantino could have spent two hours filming a sign saying "please go see Vanishing Point and Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry," and it would have accomplished the exact same thing.

Seriously, these extensive talking scenes contribute utterly nothing at all to the movie. You think I'm kidding? I'll point to two examples. One is in the first half, where they spend five minutes setting up that Jungle Julia has pulled a prank on Arlene, with the punchline showing up later in the movie. This five-minute scene could have been cut down to two, but at least the punchline helps establish Stuntman Mike as an even creepier weirdo than we already see him as.

Heck, the whole first half is just people sitting around talking, not doing anything to push the movie forward whatsoever. It gets worse, though. In the second half, there are two scenes that run a grand total of fifteen minutes, just to establish that Zoë Bell wants to drive a particular car. Fifteen minutes just to set up the car! They could have done this in a ninety-second scene where Zoë shows up in the car and says she rented it at the airport when she got into town. Simple as that!

To tell you the truth, the second half just might be worse than the first, because although the characters in the first half are thoroughly unlikable, the characters in the second half are just rotten people in general. Specifically, look at how quickly the girls decide to kill Stuntman Mike. The audience knows he's a serial killer, but do the girls? No, they don't. They just think he's some whackjob that tried to run them off the road while they were in the middle of playing an incredibly stupid game. They shoot at him and chase him away, which you'd think would be enough. But do they report him to the police? No, he's got to die! That's a pretty strong reaction to some loony that rammed your car, isn't it?

If Tarantino had made a regular slasher movie by having Stuntman Mike pick them off one by one over the course of the movie, then it would have been okay. But for them to randomly decide to murder someone in a fit of road rage simply makes the characters look like really awful people. And it didn't hit me until now, but with some psycho ramming their car at 100 miles an hour with their friend hanging for dear life onto the hood of the car, wouldn't it have been common sense to try and pull over so their friend could get to the relative safety of the vehicle's interior?

And then there's the cast, a mixed bag of decent and downright bad performances. Among the first half's featured players, Vanessa Fertillo is the only member of Jungle Julia's posse that I didn't want to smack upside the head, while Rose McGowan hands in a very amiable, charismatic performance. Tarantino also shows up as a bartender and is quite funny, while Eli Roth, who plays a frat boy trying to pick up Jordan Ladd's character, should never act again. Moving on to the second half, Rosario Dawson is the most talented actress amongst the four would-be victims, and her performance is as good as you'd expect from her. I also liked Mary Elizabeth Winstead's sweet performance, though her character drops off the face of the earth after a couple of scenes.

And I know I called out Eli Roth's bad performance, but it's nowhere near as bad as Tracie Thoms's. I'm not sure if I've ever seen her in anything else, but after seeing Death Proof, I don't want to. She is horrendously awful, one of the most dreadful performances I've ever had the misfortune of watching. Thoms's performance is repellant from start to finish, which isn't helped by the fact that her dialogue primarily consists of profanities, sexual references, and a particular racial slur. If I never see her in another movie, I'll be set for life.

However, all the bad performances make Kurt Russell's performance look even better. Go watch Death Proof, and I'm sure you'll agree that he's absolutely awesome. Though he starts off as just an off-putting weirdo, his transformation into an utter madman — and then into a simpering wuss once he realizes he's not in control — really makes the movie. Russell is, without a doubt, the best part of Death Proof, and is probably the only reason you should watch it.

What I'd like to know is how this movie has people defending it. Not just defending it, but saying it's some of Quentin Tarantino's best work! It's one thing to like it, but to actually say that it's a good movie is preposterous. Are the people defending Death Proof just über-devoted Tarantino fans that simply can't admit when he's made a bad movie? I mean, it's perfectly okay for Tarantino to make a bad movie once in a while. It happens to everybody. Take Grindhouse's co-director Robert Rodriguez, for example. From Dusk Till Dawn and Sin City were fantastic, but just because those movies are good doesn't mean that The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D is good too. Does it?

You know, I actually have an idea that could have improved Death Proof, at least in my eyes. There's a scene between the first and second halves where the police figure out that Stuntman Mike is a killer, but can't arrest him on a technicality. What would have been great is if they'd had one rogue cop hunting Stuntman Mike down, kinda like Dennis Hopper's character in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. That would have been an awesome second half, but no, that might have made the movie pretty good. Instead, we get this piece of crap. One awesome character and a great car chase just can't save Death Proof from me giving it two stars. What a disappointment.

Final Rating: **

Planet Terror (2007)

Once upon a time in Hollywood, there was a style of filmmaking known as the exploitation movie. Encompassing nearly every genre you could imagine, exploitation movies were low-budget B-movies that were often poorly made and poorly acted. But in order to make up for these shortcomings, these movies would feature ludicrous plots and excessive amounts of action, nudity, and/or graphic violence. The small amount of prints made of these movies would travel the country to sleazy "grindhouse" theaters and the slowly dwindling number of drive-in theaters, getting more and more abused the more times they were shown. And while the initial heyday of the exploitation movie had ended by the early-to-mid 1980s, some cinephiles remember them fondly.

Such fans include renowned directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Outspoken fans of exploitation cinema, Rodriguez and Tarantino teamed up to create Grindhouse, a pair of B-movies screened back to back as a double feature. Grindhouse was an amazing failure at the box office, so in order to try and recoup some of their losses, the Weinstein Company separated Grindhouse's two halves — Rodriguez's Planet Terror and Tarantino's Death Proof — and gave them individual DVD releases. Planet Terror was my favorite of the Grindhouse double feature, and as a solo film, I think it still holds up as 105 minutes of pure entertainment.

Our story takes place in a small Texas town, a town whose citizens have plenty of problems. For starters, Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan) has just quit her unsatisfying job as a go-go dancer with the hopes of fulfilling her dream of becoming a stand-up comedian. But her road to happiness takes an unexpected turn when she accidentally runs into an old flame named El Wray (Freddy Rodriguez), with whom she had a rather acrimonious breakup. El Wray isn't exactly having a smooth time of things either, as his shady criminal past has run him afoul of Sheriff Hague (Michael Biehn). Meanwhile, at the hospital across town, anesthesiologist Dakota Block (Marley Shelton) is planning on running off with her lesbian lover Tammy (Stacy Ferguson) and flee her horrible home life, but her abusive husband Bill (Josh Brolin) may be onto her scheme.

But little do the town's citizens know that an even greater problem is about to strike them all. On the outskirts of town, a deal between a mad scientist (Naveen Andrews) and a rogue military platoon's leader (Bruce Willis) goes bad, resulting in a noxious green gas being released into the town. And this gas raises all kinds of hell, infecting practically everyone who breathes it and turning them into a flesh-hungry zombie. A ragtag group of uninfected survivors are forced to band together in the name of survival, lest they become a meal for the army of ferocious cannibals.

How can someone really critique a movie like Planet Terror? Any flaw within the movie could just be dismissed as being intentional; it's the Snakes on a Plane syndrome. But what differentiates Planet Terror from Snakes on a Plane is that Planet Terror takes the "intentional B-movie" concept to an even more outrageous level. We're talking Slither multiplied by a hundred. Everything about Planet Terror is over the top to the point of comic absurdity. And that's what's so great about it. If it was played straight, then it would simply be a bad movie. But as a satire of bad movies, it ends up being a fantastic roller coaster ride.

Robert Rodriguez has been nicknamed "the one-man film crew," and with good reason. I think the only thing he didn't do in Planet Terror was act. He's producing, directing, writing, composing the music, running the camera crew, editing, and pretty much everything except for the special effects. And that really works in Planet Terror's favor. The style of movie that it's emulating didn't exactly have very large crews, so for a throwback to low-budget movies from the '70s and '80s to have one man doing nearly everything seems fitting.

As usual, I guess I'll start by critiquing the direction. Rodriguez handles things extremely well, obviously having fun hitting all the directorial clichés he can. Though the movie looks a bit too good (thanks to the abundant CGI and the fact that Rodriguez shot the movie digitally), his use of scratches, blemishes, and distortions reigns it in and makes for a visually captivating movie. His music is fantastic too, echoing the music used in many of John Carpenter's early movies. Its synthesizer-infused electronic sound sounds like it might have been drawn from something like The Thing, and it is exactly what you would expect from a movie such as Planet Terror. Any B-movie worth its salt needs a suitable B-movie score, and this one is aces.

Rodriguez's screenplay, like his direction, also makes comedic use of certain horror movie clichés, particularly with the characters. There's the final girl, the mysterious rogue, the no-nonsense cop that doesn't trust the aforementioned rogue, the troubled family, a mad scientist, and a group of soldiers who aren't exactly the nicest guys. Every character makes some sort of contribution to the movie, none of them ever really going to waste.

Rodriguez also makes sure to shoot for the true grindhouse experience by including things you'd be hard-pressed to find in other movies. A sly nod to the Evil Dead trilogy, via a character using a weapon as a prosthetic limb? Check. A morose — and darkly hilarious — moment with a seven-year-old who doesn't know how to properly handle a gun? Oh yeah. The world's most bizarre attempted rape? Sure, why not? Skipping a whole chunk of important plot points just play a prank on the audience? You better believe it. Put it all together, and Rodriguez has written perhaps the ultimate B-movie parody. All others need not apply.

Lastly is the acting, which is wonderful on pretty much all accounts. With a cast this large, a few bad apples aren't going to spoil the bunch too badly. But nearly everyone is on their A-game, which really makes Planet Terror that much more fun. There are a few people that I do have to mention, though. First up is Freddy Rodriguez, who is in full-blown "action hero" mode. His performance here is funny and exciting, and Rodriguez appears to have taken to the role like a fish to water. Josh Brolin also does a great job, making Doc Block into one of the creepiest scumbags I've seen in a while. Bruce Willis and Tom Savini are also fantastic in their small roles, and Quentin Tarantino's cameo is both very humorous and one of the movie's most disgusting sequences.

Marley Shelton and Michael Biehn also hand in some decent work as well, and Rebel Rodriguez (son of the director) does fine, considering he's a child actor in only his second movie. But perhaps the highlight of the cast is the leading lady, Rose McGowan. The part is an absurd one — how many movies star would-be comedians that have just quit their job as a go-go dancer, only to end up with a machine gun where their leg should be? — but McGowan makes a fantastic go of it. She's amiable in the role, as well as really funny and a little sympathetic to boot. The role was specifically written for her, and she pulls it off successfully. This is her movie, for sure.

Planet Terror was probably best suited when it was released as half of Grindhouse, but as a stand-alone film, I still loved it. It's a silly movie that has a great blend of horror and comedy (mostly gallows humor, to be perfectly honest). Is it for everyone? No, of course not. But if you're into absurd, over-the-top B-movies, then Planet Terror will definitely be up your alley. So yours truly is going to give it a big thumbs up with four stars. How do you not like a movie like this?

Final Rating: ****

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Grindhouse (2007)

Of all the different styles of filmmaking out there, one of the most broad yet oft-neglected is the exploitation film. Popularized in the '60s and '70s, exploitation movies were low-rent affairs that, due to their inability to produce a big-budget blockbuster or even afford a cast or crew with anything resembling talent, served as something of a counterculture movement by attempting to give viewers something they more than likely wouldn't get out of mainstream movies, whether it be through graphic violence, lots of sexuality, or something shocking to grab your attention. These B-movies — covering nearly every possible genre you could think of — would often travel from theater to theater, the prints getting worn out, beaten up, and abused while being screened as double or triple features at drive-ins or sleazy urban theaters known as "grindhouses."

Though while exploitation movies and the grindhouse experience have been turned into ancient history due to a variety of factors (e.g. theaters shutting down, the rise of the home video market, etc.), many cinephiles still show plenty of affection towards the movies of that era. Perhaps the most notable of these fans are cult directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, who teamed up to create Grindhouse, a loving homage to the double features that have gained their adoration. With each directing their own over-the-top B-movie and bridging them with fake movie trailers directed by Rob Zombie, Edgar Wright, and Eli Roth, Rodriguez and Tarantino's modern-day double feature makes for one of the most entertaining theatrical experiences in years.

First up is Rodriguez's segment, Planet Terror. When a deal between a mad scientist and a shady military platoon goes bad, a noxious green gas ends up being released into a nearby town. And needless to say, that causes a pretty big problem. This gas ends up transforming most of the town's citizens into deformed, bloodthirsty zombies. A ragtag group of survivors, led by one-legged go-go dancer Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan) and mysterious criminal El Wray (Freddy Rodriguez), are forced to band together and fight for survival against the infected horde.

The second half of the movie is Tarantino's contribution, Death Proof. It focuses on Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell), a misogynistic stuntman who is the proud owner of a "death proof" muscle car. While that might sound cool, the car is actually a tool with which he stalks and kills young women. Stuntman Mike has chosen his next victims, but they're no ordinary prey. Little does he know how vicious they'll be when they decide to stand up for themselves.

Though it was released to much fanfare, Grindhouse was a tremendous failure at the box office, pulling in less than half of its budget. The fact that the movie flopped is a little disheartening, but I can't say that it's really all that surprising. Exploitation movies and double features are completely foreign concepts to the general public nowadays, and if nobody "gets it," they're not going to see it. Only nerds like me really bought into the whole aura, and since a movie specifically for people such as myself to enjoy doesn't guarantee any sort of financial success, that's probably why it bombed like it did.

It's a shame, though, because Grindhouse is some of the most fun I've had in a movie theater in quite a long time. The whole thing looks like the film prints got into a fight with a batch of steel wool, certain actors show up in more than one segment (to the point that it almost becomes grounds for creating a drinking game), and entire scenes are missing in some instances. Grindhouse utilizes its gimmick to the fullest extent, and makes for one fun (if not a little long) time at the movies.

It's really hard to break Grindhouse down into specific things to talk about, because it's so much more than the sum of its parts. But oh, what parts they are. I guess I'll have to begin with Planet Terror, since that's what starts the movie in the first place. Planet Terror is the far superior half of Grindhouse, constantly up in your face with a frenetic, high-octane intensity that doesn't let up. It works largely as a satire of exploitation movies, operating with its tongue planted firmly in cheek as it riffs on as many clichés as it can.

Robert Rodriguez is obviously having fun in creating the ultimate B-movie; there are far too many over-the-top scenes and moments to mention, and he pushes Grindhouse's gimmick as far as he can. As such, Planet Terror looks scratched and grainy, as if the print had been shown by an untold amount of projectionists who were willing to take a few liberties with it while it was in their possession. This is especially noticeable during the movie's lone sex scene, which leads to a gag that is absolutely hilarious every time I see it.

Planet Terror also features fantastic makeup effects handled by KNB Effects (the makeup is almost too good, actually), as well as some great music composed by Rodriguez. The movie's music hearkens back to the awesome music featured in John Carpenter's early movies, which adds to the movie's effectiveness. And we can't forget the cast, who look like they're having just as much fun as their director. Rose McGowan is the biggest standout amongst them, with Freddy Rodriguez, Marley Shelton, Josh Brolin, and Michael Biehn chipping in fun performances as well.

However, I didn't believe the second half of Grindhouse held up as well. Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof is, as I said before, the lesser half of Grindhouse. But I'd even go as far to say that it's the weakest movie that Tarantino has directed thus far. The really odd thing about it is that if Grindhouse is a double feature, then Death Proof is a double feature within a double feature. It is practically two different movies with two different casts, with only the Stuntman Mike character to link them. Both the first and second halves of Death Proof feature a group of girls who are terrorized by Stuntman Mike, though with vastly different results.

However, while the tales of the two groups of girls end differently, there are many similarities between them as well. The endings of both of them are great, but there's way, way, way too much talking. I know Tarantino likes to have boatloads of dialogue in his movies, but come on now. This is bordering on excessive. I wouldn't be complaining if the dialogue actually contributed to the plot or something like that, but outside of establishing Stuntman Mike as one of the creepiest guys ever, none of it really goes anywhere. If the scenes featuring Stuntman Mike weren't so darn great, I'd give up on Death Proof altogether.

Before Grindhouse was released, I kept hearing about how Death Proof was supposed to be a slasher movie in which the killer used his car instead of a knife. Unfortunately, I don't know if I'd call that completely accurate. Sure, I'll concede that a typical slasher movie features plenty of scenes with useless talking, but they at least spice things up by featuring some killing every five or ten minutes. But with Death Proof, you have to wait... and wait... and wait... before anything really menacing begins to happen. I thought Tarantino was supposed to be making an exploitation movie, not a half-assed version of the movies he usually makes. It doesn't even seem like he was bothering to try. He uses the "missing reel" gag, but it isn't as funny as it was in "Planet Terror," and even the appearances of making the movie worn out — the scratches, the blemishes, the jarring jump cuts — is dropped halfway through. Why do it halfway? It should have been either all or nothing.

Now I guess I shouldn't rag on "Death Proof" so much. There are actually some elements that I liked. Though Tarantino's script is weak in regards to just about everything that doesn't involve Stuntman Mike, he makes up for it with some good direction, a fantastic soundtrack (as usual), an awesome car chase that runs nearly twenty minutes, and a cast that does a pretty decent job. Well, some of the cast does well. Vanessa Fertillo is the only member of the initial group of girls that I didn't want to smack upside the head, while Rose McGowan also turns up in the first half and hands in a very amiable performance. Amongst the men that's how up, Tarantino himself is quite funny, but Eli Roth should never act again.

In the second group of girls, three of them aren't too bad at all. Rosario Dawson is the most talented of them, and her performance is as good as you'd expect from her. Mary Elizabeth Winstead isn't around for long and is practically a non-factor, but she's likable when she's on-screen. Zoë Bell, meanwhile, delivers the most surprising performance. Known more as a stuntwoman than as an actress, Bell is charming in her role, and I wouldn't be surprised if she shows up in more of Tarantino's movies in the future.

I already called out Eli Roth's bad performance, but his crappiness is far eclipsed by Tracie Thoms. She turns in one of the most annoyingly dreadful performances that I've ever had the misfortune of watching in a movie theater. Her dialogue is mostly comprised of profanities and a particular racial slur (the one that rhymes with "digger"), which would be bad enough if Thoms's acting wasn't so utterly repellant. If I never see her in another movie, I'll be set for life.

But of the Death Proof cast (and of the Grindhouse cast as a whole, really), the absolute best performance comes from Kurt Russell. Go watch Death Proof and try telling me that he isn't awesome. Though he starts off being just creepy, he transforms into an utter madman that completely makes the movie. Russell is this flick's greatest asset, and I hope his performance here gets him cast as more villains down the line.

And I'd be remiss if I talked about Grindhouse and failed to mention the four mock trailers. Rodriguez's Machete (a "Mexploitation" action movie featuring Danny Trejo and Cheech Marin) opens Grindhouse, while Rob Zombie's Werewolf Women of the SS (the title says it all), Edgar Wright's Don't (a pastiche of British horror in general), and Eli Roth's Thanksgiving (a stereotypical holiday-oriented slasher movie) play during the intermission.

All of them are fantastic, with Thanksgiving particularly standing out for me. How sad is it that an 85-second preview for a non-existent movie is better than all of Roth's feature-length movie's combined? I also have to give Zombie props for the bit of inspired lunacy that is Nicolas Cage's cameo in Werewolf Women of the SS. I swear, I'd go see Werewolf Women of the SS a million times if it were turned into a real movie, just for Nicolas Cage as Fu Manchu.

Now I understand that I expressed displeasure with Death Proof, but as a whole, Grindhouse is fantastic. With the damaged, world-weary look, incredulous plots, a high amount of violence, and a three-hour running time, Grindhouse is most definitely an experience that is not for everybody. For those of you who would be into this sort of thing, this would definitely be something up your alley. I'm planning individual reviews of Planet Terror and Death Proof very soon, but when viewing them as originally intended, I'll gladly give Grindhouse four stars and a proud seal of approval.

Final Rating: ****