| The Red Right Hand
GRINDHOUSE - PLANET TERROR
Living in England, we don't have grindhouses; we don't have anything remotely similar. However, we do have psycho nutbars, who love films. Thankfully (for yourselves, I imagine) I am one of them. I can (somewhat) proudly claim that I have sat in a darkened cinema, watched a feature, went back to the box office, bought another ticket for another film and bought a third for the last showing of the day. These may not have necessarily been of the genre that the grindhouse would have specialised in but I feel the commitment put forth is of the same calibre... besides, Hollywood pumps out so much dreck, it's not far off. For those that don't know, allow me to enlighten you. Small, semi-rundown American cinemas would have reputations for all-night screenings of horrific, gory or overly-erotic pieces that thrived on exploitation. They generated a cult following and gave rise to such films as The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Night Of The Living Dead. Rodriguez and Tarantino have decided to team up and direct two very different films and show them back-to-back in one epic film.
Rodriguez chose the gory, gun-toting, skirt-shaking flick, creating Planet Terror. As with most classic zombie films, a lot of the characters are plastic, the science is questionable, the action over-the-top and the cliches abundant. Essentially, a group of soldiers have suffered a series of experiments that have left them dependent on a gas that suppresses the hideous side-effects. After a betrayal, or a misunderstanding -sometimes it's difficult to tell the difference- the gas is released and the local population become infected. Running alongside this overall plot thread are two smaller sub-plots that detail the relationship between an anaesthetist, Dakota [Shelton] and her psychotic husband, Dr. Block [Brolin]. It's never fully explained but it would appear Dakota is bi-sexual and plans to run away with her son and lesbian lover, Tammy [the ever-annoying Stacey Ferguson of the Black Eyed Peas]. Before she can reach the town, Tammy is attacked by disfigured zombie-esque horrors that proceed to tear her skanky, no-talent body to shreds (yey!). She is brought to the hospital but Block is suspicious of her presence and decides to search the corpse, finding a mobile phone. Once he has discovered Dakota's intentions, he plans to dispose of her. Before he can, he is called away by the growing madness of the epidemic; semi-drugged, Dakota bolts and escpaes into the night. At the same time the story of El Wray [F.Rodriguez] returning and re-uniting with his ex-girlfriend turned go-go dancer, Cherry Darling [McGowan], is in full-swing. Bring in the local sheriff [Biehn] and a few shady characters, whole-them-up in a BBQ eatery and you've got an idea of how the story will shape up. Moan, moan; bang, bang.
The film itself is incredibly cheap and stupid, any other day of the week that would irritate the hell out of me but as I am fully aware that this is an homage to ridiculous, cheesy films, I found myself enjoying this sorry state of affairs. The acting is flat (despite the talent), the gore is excessive and the sets are a little naff but it's supposed to be and that's what gives rise to an entertaining load of nonsense. However, the most impressive element is the pain-staking effort gone into replicating the tired, used look that most old reel films have. Each shot is scarred with faded colour, scratches, even a scene that leads to the celluloid melting, followed by a polite announcement from 'the theater manager.' It all adds to the exceptional look and feel of the fan-boy's tribute. There is, of course, an extreme downside: If you've never seen an exploitation flick or have no desire to, avoid this film; it's designed for an extremely tight-knit, esoteric group and if it's not your thing, I doubt you will find a moments peace or happiness throughout.
US - 6th April 2007
UK - 1st June 2007
The Scene To Look Out For:
Biehn produces the 'all or nothing box' and deputises everyone, "except for you, Wray." Stupid corny scene that underlines the key features of this whole monstrous affair. Either that or the second after Dakota gives the gun to her kid, he blows his head off, hehehe, so stupid.
Rather than going for a character, I have chosen an actor, simply because there are far too many characters doing far too little. Although portrayed as a main character, Doc-Block is really only in the feature for a total of 20 minutes and feels like an extended cameo, similar to Bruce Willis and Naveen Andrews. This is going to sound sad but the man is a Goonie for crying out loud! How could I not give him highlighted character just for that? Point being, I haven't seen much of his recent work but this role does show off a certain air that would go down beautifully in action flicks of a higher calibre. We can but hope he rears his head in a Sin City sequel, who knows?
"I was walking out on you, I was cold; I took your fucking jacket. So, if you're gonna go on one of your psycho obsessive controlling rants about a fucking jacket, then fucking take it 'cause I'd rather fucking freeze than fucking hear about it one more time"
In A Few Words:
"A nice little homage to a lost art but with films like Dawn Of The Dead (re-make) and 28 Days Later reviving the genre, do we really need to hark back to the dregs? I can see the benefits of roots and an artist's sketch-work but this may be taking it a little too far"