Movie Reviews: GRINDHOUSE, PULSE & BLACK CHRISTMAS
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Those two titans of terror — Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez — have teamed up for this throwback to the good ol' days when you could see two sleazy exploitation films for the price of one ticket. Rodriquez directs Planet Terror, an over-the-top tale of a small town trying to survive an outbreak of zombies; while Tarantino's Death Proof stars Kurt Russell as a serial killing maniac who stalks beautiful women. Also features fake trailers for phoney movies by the directors.
Cast Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Josh Brolin, Marley Shelton, Jeff Fahey, Michael Biehn (more)
Director(s) Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez
Status In theaters (wide)
Release Date April 6, 2007
MPAA Rating Rating R
Grindhouse is a cornucopia of inspired homages to the classic grindhouse movies of the 70's and early 80's.
Planet Terror, Robert Rodriguez's film, cancels the greatness of early 80's John Carpenter movies. Everything from the extreme situations to the super cool mysterious hero to the musical theme; written in true John Carpenter style by Rodriguez. This movie is very tongue in cheek and gives the audiences plenty of wink and nods. The added scratches and "missing reel" added to the film fit perfectly and make you enjoy this gooey zombie flick even more. Rose McGowan and Freddy Rodriguez, pretty much playing El Mariachi in a zombie movie, do well by doing their best bad B movie acting through out and Michael Biehn is just a perfect choice as the town sheriff. The zombies here are extra gooey and squishy and anytime any of them get mowed down with bullets, even helicopter blades at one point; there is a copious amount of reddish jelly flying everywhere. Needless to say, the splat factor is extremely high. Not a perfect film because Rodriguez can't seem to help himself but force feed us some scenes that are supposed to make the lead seem cool, even though it unneeded. Still none of this is taken too seriously and if you enjoyed movies like Return of the Living Dead or Dead Alive then you'll have plenty of fun here.
Intermission: Fake movie trailers
Robert Rodriguez's Machete has seen the most play and it's a fun little trailer. This trailer actually precedes the entire movie. Danny Trejo goes back to knife wielding, he played a similar character in Rodriguez's Desperado, here making him the hero of his own vengeance tale with clever little jabs at the immigration debate.
Ah those wonderful faux trailers in between the 2 movies. Rob Zombie's Werewolf Women of the SS is so ridiculous and wonderfully out there that I am surprised no Italian horror director actually made it back in the 70's.
Edgar Wright's, writer director of Shaun of the Dead and the upcoming Hot Fuzz, Don't is just hilarious in the instructional way it warns you want you shouldn't do in any horror movie.
Eli Roth's Thanksgiving is just an outstandingly outlandish take on seasonal horror movies. This trailer has more gore, nudity and violence in it's 3 minute run time than most current horror movies do in their entirety.
Death Proof, Tarantino's film, is a huge change of pace, tonally, from Planet Terror. So much so that found myself wishing they had played it first. Right from the outset you get a very strong sense that Tarantino lives and breaths the grindhouse movies of yesterday and his love for them comes through on screen as his film unfurls on screen. Everything people love from Tarantino films is on display here, great dialogue, wonderfully retro musical choices and great character acting. This slasher / muscle car movie is hampered a bit by it's mismatch 1st half and 2nd halves. Visually and tonally the 2 halves of the movie are very different, first played like a slasher film and the 2nd like a muscle car movie. It's not a natural fit but only a minor distraction. Excellent dialogue through out helps pass some of the slower moments in the film and Kurt Russell is menacing enough to make you wonder why anyone would ever get in a car with him in the first place. Tracie Thoms, Zoe Bell and Rosario Dawson play off each other well and we get some great dialogue moments reminisce of Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction with a female spin. As for the car mayhem that ensues, it's vicious and feels about as real as anything I've ever seen, probably because there is no CGI in any part of it. When these cars crash or pound into each other it makes an impression. My only complaint, a trivial one at that, is what happened to all the artificial scratches and cuts on the film? Aside from the very beginning they almost disappear and make the film seem too new, minor complain I know but just felt it would have added a great feel to the movie. Minor complains aside this is still a great film with delivers a lot more great lines than bloody body part, even though there are a few of them as well.
Based on the Japanese horror movie Kairo, this thriller centers on a group of college students (Kristen Bell, Christina Milian, Ian Somerhalder) who discover that a computer hacker unwittingly pirated a strange wireless signal that opens a doorway for evil spirits to cross over into the world. The evil spreads like a virus, and the students must race to find a way to stop it.
Cast Kristen Bell, Ian Somerhalder, Christina Milian, Samm Levine, Kel O'Neill, Ron Rifkin (more)
Director(s) Jim Sonzero
Writer(s) Wes Craven, Ray Wright
Status On DVD
Release Date Aug. 11, 2006
DVD Release Date Dec. 5, 2006
MPAA Rating PG-13 - for intense sequences of sci-fi terror, disturbing images, language, sensuality and thematic material.
Pulse is a chore of a movie to watch. This film's premise has some potential as a horror movie and perhaps even capable of making a statement about our technologically advanced world making us more detached and disconnected from each other. Sadly, this film can't pull any of these elements together and instead we're given yet another Japanese horror movie remake filled with the same concepts. Even worse, this movie doesn't bother to actually explain anything that happens in any shape or form. Instead we are just shown "scary" looking ghost who want to steal your soul, I think it's never really clear. Sadly, as this movie came to an end, it reminded me more of the woefully bad Feardot.com than anything else. All the actors and actresses are just going through the motions in this car wreck.
In this remake of the 1974 slasher film, a group of sorority sisters find themselves terrorized by a murderous psycho, who plans to kill them off one by one before Christmas break.
Cast Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Hudson, Kristen Cloke, Andrea Martin, Katie Cassidy (more)
Director(s) Glen Morgan
Writer(s) Glen Morgan, Roy Moore
Status On DVD
Release Date Dec. 25, 2006
DVD Release Date April 3, 2007
MPAA Rating R - for strong horror violence and gore, sexuality, nudity and language.
Black Christmas is yet another in the long line of horror films to be remade with horrible consequences. Like those other films, here the killer is given a back-story in order to give us a better understanding of the killer. It doesn't help and in fact it takes away from movies like these. In horror movies faceless boogey men are far more frightening than mentally scarred child abuse victims. The rest of the movie plays out in predictable slasher movie fashion. Character are killed off in quick succession and most were little more than faces, a point made very clear when one finds it extremely difficult to figure out who's who when someone is mentioned by name. Lots of gore and cheap scares as the actresses play out the most basic of slasher movie conceits with no real surprises to be had. Big body count but a boring retread, you'd probably be best served by just renting the original film.