Tag Archives: exploitation movies

Planet Terror (2007)

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Planet Terror

Time: 105 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast:
Rose McGowan as Cherry Darling
Freddy Rodriguez as Wray
Josh Brolin as Dr William Block
Marley Shelton as Dr Dakota Block
Jett Fahey as J.T.
Michael Biehn as Sheriff Hague
Naveen Andrews as Abby
Bruce Willis as Lieutenant Muldoon
Director: Robert Rodriguez

In Texas, a gang lead by a black market dealer Abby (Naveen Andrews) faces a group of renegade militaries leaded by Captain Muldoon (Bruce Willis). During their shootout, Abby shoots a recipient of biological weapon, which releases an experimental gas that turns humans to flesh-eating zombies. When the outbreak affects most of the local population, a group of people lead by the mechanic Wray (Freddy Rodriguez), Sheriff Hague (Michael Biehn), the stripper Cherry (Rose McGowan) and Dr. Dakota (Marley Shelton) fight to survive and become the last hope to save the world.

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Planet Terror is the first part in the Grindhouse pack, paired with Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof. As I pointed out in my Death Proof review, Quentin Tarantino’s movie unfortunately failed to entertain or interest me in the slightest and ended up as a bore. Planet Terror however is very entertaining and knows exactly what it is supposed to be. It’s a blood and gore drenched ride that doesn’t have a dull moment that will be entertaining for those who will be able to stomach it.

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The movie can be cheesy but that adds to the style; nothing is played straight. To give you an idea of the level of how unrealistic it can be, Rose McGowan’s character’s character has her leg removed (not spoiling anything) and near the end of the movie has a gun attached to where it should be before shooting a whole lot of zombies without even pulling the trigger. It is also at times self aware, in fact that there is a moment in the film where the screen shows ‘Missing film reel’ in the middle of a scene. The dialogue in exploitation movies are often bad, but here it’s quite good, if a bit cheesy at times. The film isn’t just constant action and violence, it has explosive moments, hilarious moments, disgusting moments and occasionally, shocking moments. There were some scenes which I felt could’ve been cut out (most notably one with a child and a gun) which wouldn’t have really changed the movie but overall the writing is actually better than most exploitation movies.

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Exploitation movies don’t really have great performances (they are in fact bad most of the time) but Planet Terror does have some decent performances. Rose McGowan does a pretty good job as the main character, even better when she’s in the action scenes with her gun-leg. Other actors like Freddy Rodriguez, Michael Biehn, Marley Shelton and Josh Brolin are also good in their roles.

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This is so far the bloodiest movie I’ve seen and I’ve seen Kill Bill and Django Unchained. All of the zombies are really designed with a lot of detail and are made as disgusting as possible. Like Death Proof, this does have a hazy camera filter but this time it stays throughout the whole movie and in my opinion, is used much better. The action scenes are well filmed, though keep in mind a lot of it is intentionally blown out of proportion, though you’ve probably figured that out already; they were never going for any realism (I once again draw attention to the gun for a leg).

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It is a better tribute to exploitation movies than Death Proof. The reason I give this film a higher score than most people would rate it is because of how it managed to entertain me. It’s not a movie that I think everyone should watch; if you hate these types of movies, nothing’s going to change your mind. However, if you are a fan of Grindhouse movies, it’s worth checking out, I haven’t watched any exploitation movies before and I had a great time with it. This movie isn’t great and isn’t going to win awards but it was never meant to; what makes it entertaining is the fact that it knows what it’s supposed to be and it delivers in that regard.

Death Proof (2007)

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Death Proof

Time: 113 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Offensive language, violence and content that may offend
Cast:
Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike
Rosario Dawson as Abernathy
Vanessa Ferlito as Arlene
Jordan Ladd as Shanna
Rose McGowan as Pam
Sydney Tamiia Poitier as Jungle Julia
Tracie Thoms as Kim
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Lee
Zoë Bell as Herself
Director: Quentin Tarantino

Two separate sets of voluptuous women are stalked at different times by a scarred stuntman (Kurt Russell) who uses his “death proof” cars to execute his murderous plans.

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Death Proof is the second part of the Grindhouse movie pack which is paired with Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror. Quentin Tarantino usually has something to impress me with, usually with the dialogue and the performances he can make the actors give. Unfortunately, with this movie he’s unsuccessful doing this. His tribute to the grindhouse (or exploitation) movies should entertain but it doesn’t do that. Instead we are left with a 113 Minute movie that only a few times had my interest.

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Tarantino’s movies are dialogue driven movies however people who know about exploitation movies know that the dialogue isn’t well written. Still, Tarantino makes the movie dialogue driven and it doesn’t work. The dialogue here is more cringe worthy than some real exploitation movie dialogue because unlike the exploitation movies which don’t focus on it (and therefore it’s easier to just look past it), this movie really focuses on it a lot. Nearly all of the dialogue has nothing to do with anything; Tarantino manages to make his other movies have people talking about irrelevant things while keeping the movie entertaining (like the tipping scene from Reservoir Dogs) but here it is just boring and makes this one of the most frustrating movie experiences to sit through. Despite the plot being about these women being stalked by Kurt Russell’s character, there is no presence of him being a threat; I wouldn’t even call this movie a thriller.

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Easily the best performance of this movie is by Kurt Russell, he really relishes in the role that he has, apart from near the end where he seems to jump character. He is not in the movie a lot though; he pops up somewhere in the middle and twice near the end. Also, despite being advertised as the main star of this movie, he’s not really that; the women are; which consist of Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd, Rose McGowan, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Tracie Thoms, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Zoë Bell as herself. Although they do the best they can with what they have, the script doesn’t really give them a chance to give the characters any personality. I know that exploitation movies don’t usually have characters that have much personality but if someone is going to write a dialogue driven movie, the characters should have at least some personality. It results in the audience not really caring for any of the characters.

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The movie for the first half of the movie uses the grainy grindhouse filter well; in that aspect it felt like a grindhouse movie. However halfway through the movie the film changes to a black and white look for no reason at all and halfway through that scene it changes to colour without the grainy look. The car scenes are well done and aren’t CGI, however (I’m not spoiling anything here) there are only two car chase scenes. The soundtrack is well chosen by Tarantino, as he usually does.

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Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof is not a movie that I would recommend that people see but I wouldn’t say to avoid it. I’ve heard of people who absolutely love this movie, for whatever reason. What I will say is that if you are planning to watch this movie, be careful of what you expect. Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror seems to capture more successfully the style and enjoyment of a grindhouse movie much more than this movie. Death Proof isn’t a terrible movie but it isn’t really one that I’d say is good.

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