For baseball double headers, double scoop ice creams and double feature films most people feel like they’re getting more for their money. For this Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez (From Dusk Till Dawn, Four Rooms, Sin City) collaboration, the two filmmakers serve up a double dose of mayhem, blood, breasts, guts and wild fun. These back-to-back 70’s style films (with fake trailers and cheesy restaurant ads) offer sex, fun and chills. But for those who say two heads are better than one, in this case maybe try one and one-half.
Rodriquez’s installment Planet Terror, takes place in a small town where a town has been infected by some mysterious plague. Agent Fox Mulder from X-Files would salivate for this story where a toxin has infected the locals by turning them into zombie like creatures. (And there is that Osama Bin Laden political reference) An emotional go-go dancer Cherry (Rose McGowan) who wants to be a stand-up comedian, and her ex-boyfriend Wray (Freddy Rodríguez) lead the fight against these disfigured humans and the local army. Think Night of the Living Dead except in reverse. How many ways can someone cut, dice, slice, and shoot a zombie?
Rodriguez aims low and scores big with the film’s look (they even manipulated the film to give it a scratchy 70s appearance) and feel. Just enough character development and story exist to make the wild ride fun. Rodriguez tosses in the correct amounts of breasts, women in peril, cheesy love scenes (watch out for those missing film reels) and a thumping music score to make this jaunt worth taking.
What would a cheesy double feature be without those old school trailers and food advertisements? Tarantino and Rodriguez had several directors (Eli Roth, Edgar Wright, Rob Zombie) create lowbrow trailers (like Machete, “He’s one bad ass Mexican”) to sandwich the features. These intentionally cheesy, sometimes outrageously funny fake previews offer up fun as well as several cameos. They keep the flow of the cheesy action fun that Rodriguez built up with Planet Terror. Unfortunately after this point the momentum comes to a screeching halt.
Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof takes the serial killer genre and pushes it full throttle. Instead of offing victims with a hatchet or machete, here the murderer uses a stuntman racing car. Like so many Tarantino films this one takes time to get its engine revving. The seemingly pointless setup has three friends hanging out at various Austin restaurants and bars hoping to party and meet some fellas. Meanwhile, Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) stalks them from afar. While the girls party in one bar, Mike works his creepy charm with another single lovely. Next thing she knows she’s getting a ride home. Or so she thinks. It’s not too long before she’s trapped inside the car with Mr. psycho killer driving way past the speed limit in his 1971/1972 Chevy Nova. Poor girl doesn’t even have a seatbelt, which doesn’t bode well for said young lady when he slams on the brakes. Gruesome.
For his next victims, Mike sets his sight on another group of young ladies, two of whom happen to be stuntwomen on break from a film. It’s not long before Mike is trying his best to run the ladies off the road while they take a stunt filled joyride. Like in most Tarantino’s work, these tough girls don’t take a murder attempt lying down. And bad things eventually happen to Stuntman Mike.
While Tarantino brings high speed thrills and stunts to Death Proof, he fails to offer the fun that Rodriguez as well as the trailer directors generated. For a film that appears caught between Death Race 2000, Duel and Friday the 13th, it’s hardly worth sitting though the pointless bar banter (not to mention Tarantino’s acting). Maybe Quentin would have been better served creating an homage to the oft mentioned film Vanishing Point rather than directing this wreck on wheels.
American writer/director and one of the most iconic filmmakers of the 1990s. The former video store clerk made his debut in 1992 with the dazzling crime thriller Reservoir Dogs, which mixed razor sharp dialogue, powerhouse acting and brutal violence in controversial style. Sprawling black comedy thriller Pulp Fiction was one of 1994's biggest hits and resurrected John Travolta's career, much as 1997's Elmore Leonard adaptation Jackie Brown did for Pam Grier.