To be perfectly frank, before Tarantino and Rodriguez announced that they were making this package, I don’t remember ever hearing the term “grindhouse” before. Oh, I’d been to quite a few back in the day, but they never were called that, at least by anyone I knew. Second Runs, dollar theaters, shitholes, sure, but never grindhouses.
Here in New York, they were mostly located on 42nd street between seventh and eighth avenues among the live sex shows. They stank of urine mixed with stale coke [the soda] and were a good place to get robbed. There were also a few on seventh avenue around 50th street, and one on 110th and Broadway, and yes they showed cheesy horror and blaxpolotiation flicks as well as first run stuff for half the price of the “high class” multiplexes around the corner on 43rd and Broadway. They also had some in White Plains and Elmsford, up in Westchester.
Going to the movies was a different experience back then, and Tarantino and Rodriguez have decided to recreate that experience of their youth, when, hiding out for an afternoon, they saw at least two or three bad flicks in a row.
Aside from the two features, and they ARE indeed features, there are three faux trailers, and an ad for a restaurant somewhere on the Texas/Mexico border.
The trailers are, of course, jokes. The first one, by Rodriguez, has Cheech Marin as a homicidal priest out for revenge, because his pal, the Mexican assassin(Danny Trejo), has been betrayed. It’s one of those things I would usually avoid as a kid. Then, after the first feature, there’s three more. One by Rob Zombie about Nazi werewolf supervixans, one by Eli Roth for a horror film called “Thanksgiving” and a thing called “Don’t” by Edger Wright, which is the only thing I might want to see as a real movie.
Now, as to the grindhouse experience, when the initial run of the package is over, and the people at Weinstein/Dimension put this in the second-run or third run theaters, they’re probably going to cut up the package and show the two features separately, [after all, for three bucks, why would any theater owner in his/her right mind let a person sit in their seats for over THREE hours?] so that’s how we’ll treat them:
Written and Directed
by Robert Rodriguez
AS Michael Medved once said before he got religion, “If you set out to make a bad movie, how can you not succeed?” I know that this was to some extent a joke, but couldn’t Robert Rodriguez have pretended to TRY making a halfway decent movie?
This is your standard operational zombie movie. The film starts with Our heroine Cherry(Rose McGowan) quitting her job as a stripper, much to the chagrin of her sleezy boss(Michael Parks), since she doesn’t have a car she walks all the way to J.T.’s(Jeff Fahey) barbecue place, where she accidentally meets her old beau Wray(Freddy Rodriguez). Meanwhile evil Dr. William Block(Josh Brolin) is arguing with his wife, Dr. Dakota(Marley Shelton), about something that is serious and unexplained, and from out of nowhere, even more evil Dr. Abby(Naveen Andrews) has a confrontation with some military types in which he cuts off…this is before he has a fight with a colonel played by Bruce Willis.
As a parody of the genre, it’s not all that great. Granted McGowan, Shelton and Fergie, who has a smaller part, are really easy on the eyes, and some of the action is actually nicely choreographed, however, the whole thing is cliché after cliché, and if you’re stone cold sober, the whole thing gets really old after a while.
The special effects are old fashioned, which makes the use of blackberries kind of anachronistic, and if it wasn’t for the fact that the zombies were really disgusting, the whole thing would be a bore. [which is why, back in the day, we would get stoned first].
Written and Directed
by Quentin Tarantino
Unlike, Robert Rodreguez, Quentin Tarantino is a cinematic genius. True, not everything he’s done in the past is great, but he knows how to make a decent film. Even with the obvious flaws, the payoff is much better and the chase sequence is actually thrilling.
The film is about two sets of really hot chicks and their relationship with the despicable Stuntman Mike(Kurt Russell). The film can use some editing to make it really good, the first act is waaaaaaay to wordy. It’s about three twenty-something beauties: Arlene (Vanessa Ferlito), who’s visiting her old college chums Shana(Jordan Ladd) and local DJ Jungle Julia(Sydney Tamiia Poitier) in Austin, Texas.
This is an introductory sequence for the character of Stuntman Mike and as such is far too long. There aren’t enough close-ups [at least for the body parts we want to see], and when they get to the cantina where the gals meet up with their boyfriends(Michael Bacall, Eli Roth and Omar Doom) and their usual nemesis Pam(Rose McGowan) it’s just talk talk talk. True, Tanantino is a master of dialogue, but even when Stuntman Mike shows up and joins the proceedings, the film just seems to be treading water. This is a setup for the second act, and it takes far too long.
As to the second act, we’ve got four new victims(Zoe Bell,Rosario Dawson, Tracie Thoms and Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who are a completely different group altogether. Zoe(as herself) and Tracy Thoms’ character are stuntwomen, Dawson’s a makup artist, and Winstead is the star of a movie, and by now we’ve learned that Tarentino has the same problem as Kevin Smith, his women sound like men. These preliminaries go on for some time as well, but at last Stuntman Mike shows up while Zoe does a marvelous stunt and one of the best chase sequences of the decade starts up. This is why we spent eleven bucks in the first place! The faux-crappy quality of the film stock even improves considerably. This is by far the better of the two.
Before you go, GO. In the old days, you knew that you probably wouldn’t miss anything by going to the john in the middle of the film, and in the case of the first feature, this is the case, and also in the beginning of the second. But you want to see the trailers and the final half of the second feature in its entirety. Hopefully they won’t clear the theater after the show and you can come in in the middle and leave at the point you came in. That’s how must of us used to do it back in the day.