The Red Right Hand
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GRINDHOUSE - DEATH PROOF
A White-Hot Juggernaut At 200 Miles Per Hour!

Director
Quentin Tarantino

Starring
Kurt Russell
Rosario Dawson
Vanessa Ferlito
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Zoe Bell
Tracie Thoms

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.

Thank you, Tarantino. If you watched the full-length Grindhouse release, then this will be the second feature in the running. Following a long and messy offering from Robert Rodriguez, Tarantino's motorised madness is a complete change of scene and pace but reigns above and beyond the zombie hoards. With little more than 10-or-so characters, 2 cars and a lot of open road, Tarantino has created something harking back to his Reservoir Dogs days. Before the swords and before the guns, (possibly before the films) Tarantino liked music and liked to talk about it; the opening scene of Reservoir Dogs runs for five or six minutes and shows criminals sitting around a table, talking about little more than a revival weekend on the radio. With a thoroughly original soundtrack, Tarantino has produced a clear and simple plot thread that has absolutely no point or purpose but serves up a fantastically entertaining experience. You could say I ruin the film for the general viewing public... you can look away if necessary.

The film is split in two; the first half follows a group of young women, as they head out to a private party, while their friend, Butterfly [Ferlito] is in town. Whilst in a bar, a Stuntman with an overly-reinforced car is greedily necking a grande nacho platter and club sodas. It's not until he leaves, chases the girls down and forces a head-on collision, killing them all, that we realise Stuntman Mike [Russell] is clearly insane, getting off the only way he knows how. A combination of Mike's calm exterior and a focus on the girls, leaves the middle of this film feeling a little strange, with the audience questioning where Tarantino will go now. In typical grindhouse fashion, what works once, works twice. Mike is all patched up and now follows another four girls, stalking their every move. What he doesn't know about these four is their ties to the movie industry. Lee [Winstead] is an actress, Abernathy [Dawson] works in makeup and both Kim [Thoms] and Zoe [Zoe Bell, playing herself] are gear-head stuntwomen, who specialise in car stunts. Zoe is in from New Zealand and wants to test drive a specific Dodge Charger, which just so happens to be on sale in a nearby town. She wants to play a stunt-game called "Ship's Mast," in which she lies on the bonnet of a speeding car, spread eagle, supported only by belts wrapped around the door frames. Tarantino has taken this opportunity to spit on the world of CGI and shows us that for truly exhilarating scenes, stuntmen and women really are the champions of thrills and suspense. After an hour of crisp, witty dialogue (in typical Tarantino fashion), we are treated to twenty five minutes of nail biting footage, as Mike tries to ram the ladies off the road. As they come to a climax, Mike gets out and thanks the girls. Oddly enough, they're not best pleased and shoot at him then decide to chase after the wounded psychopath. Death Proof may not be a clever or original film but as an end to a four hour marathon, the feeling of accomplishment truly rings home. As a stand alone piece it's fairly flat but as I stated in my Planet Terror review, it's supposed to be.

Release Date:
US - 6th April 2007
UK - 1st June 2007

The Scene To Look Out For:
After being shot at by the girls, Mike pulls over and begins to nurse his wound. The whole scene is hilarious for the simple fact that he's cradling his arm and screaming like a girl throughout. Genius!

Notable Characters:
Simply because I haven't seen a stunt-worker getting such an on-screen role, I feel I should give it to Zoe Bell. However, that would be a terrible crime because Kurt Russell really is the star of the piece as the exceptionally insane Stuntman Mike.

Highlighted Quote:
"You know, a bar offers all kinds of things other than alcohol"

In A Few Words:
"Edging away from the big names sported throughout Planet Terror, Tarantino has created the perfect homage that not only nods its head but serves as an entertaining flick in its own right"

Total Score:
8/10


Matthew Stogdon