Grindhouse is a cinematic event unlike any other. It’s a double feature released as one movie, made in the style of “grindhouse” cinema. Which were late 60’s & 70’s era theaters that specialize in low budget “B” movies. Exploitation flicks with often sleazy typically gory hard R content. Just the kind of movies Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino specialize in. Both acclaimed directors are best friends with very similar directing styles. Their love of bygone eras of filmmaking have kept many forgotten subgenres alive and in the mainstream.
Since grindhouse theaters showed double features, they each decided to recreate the experience in the modern day. Complete with intentionally damaged film reels, campy acting, exploitative shots, theater intercuts, and fake trailers for other exploitation films. Grindhouse is so unique that I wasn’t even sure how to review it. Since it’s essentially 2 feature length films in 1. At first I was just gonna review them separately, but then I decided I needed to review the double feature first. Followed by more in-depth reviews during the next couple of days.
Although I was clearly not old enough at the time, I really wanted to experience Grindhouse when it first came out. Because when am I ever gonna get another chance to see a double feature. I was lucky to even find the 3 hour & 13 minute original. Since both movies were released separately on DVD. When I did watch, I found Grindhouse to be a disgusting, cheesy, over-the-top, uncomfortable thrill ride that’s a lot smarter than the movies it’s imitating. That’s why it failed at the box-office. Since casual moviegoers didn’t understand what the movie was trying to accomplish. Nevertheless, Grindhouse is a cult hit that will never be duplicated. It can be broken down like this:
Machete – Grindhouse opens with the first fake trailer made exclusively for the film. Machete is directed by Rodriguez himself. The trailer is in the style of a Mexploitaion flick. The idea came from Robert Rodriguez intention to create a kick-ass character for long time collaborator Danny Trejo. In gory fashion, Machete proves he’s a Mexican that shouldn’t be messed with. While at the same time kissing two beautiful topless women in a pool. The crazy explosive trailer was enough to warrant its own full-length movie.
Planet Terror – (See full review here)
Werewolf Women of the SS – The second fake trailer occurs at the halfway point (after the completion of the first feature). Werewolf Women of the SS is directed by hardcore horror director Rob Zombie. The trailer is a blend of Nazisploitation and Women in prison flicks. Zombie was very excited to contribute to the fake trailers. To the point he filmed more than was required. The bombastic trailer features a plot by the nazis to create a race of topless she-wolves. Zombie’s wife Sheri Moon Zombie obviously plays a part. As well as “B” movie actors Udo Kier and Sybil Danning. Of course it wouldn’t be exploitation without an over-the-top Nicolas Cage as Fu Manchu. The character’s last on-screen appearance.
Don’t – The third fake trailer follows a fake ad for Tex-Mex food. Don’t is directed by comedic director Edgar Wright. The trailer is meant as a recreation of British Hammer horror flicks. People foolishly enter a haunted house where we see a series of shocking images that give no indication into what the plot is about. Narrated by Will Arnett constantly saying “Don’t” to everything they do. A bunch of British actors appear, but none of them speak. Meant as a joke about these types of trailers hiding the fact that they were English. Wright even went the extra mile by degrading the film himself and shooting with old lenses.
Thanksgiving – The fourth fake trailer is arguably the most depraved part of the whole movie. To the point it almost earned Grindhouse an NC-17 rating. Thanksgiving is directed by the always depraved torture porn director Eli Roth. The trailer is based on the seasonal slasher flick concept. Since ironically, no one has made a horror movie centered around Thanksgiving. Apparently Roth’s had the idea for a long time. The plot involves a killer dressed in a pilgrim outfit killing victims in very graphic ways. A cheerleader stripping naked on a trampoline and being killed in a sick manner, three separate decapitations, and a human turkey are what pushed its R rating. But the idea does have enough promise to someday become its own film.
Death Proof – (See full review here)