A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 374 – Grindhouse: Planet Terror

Grindhouse: Planet Terror – March 9th, 2011

So we’re back to Grindhouse, and okay, while Andy did assure me that this wasn’t nearly as bad as Death Proof, I admit I was nervous. All I knew about it was that there were zombies and that Rose McGowan somehow ended up with a machine gun leg. And I’m down with the machine gun leg, but still. Nervous. Zombies aren’t my genre. I know they’re a big thing right now and have been for a couple of years but it’s just not something I enjoy. So given that this isn’t my sort of movie and it’s the follow-up to a movie I found painful and offensive, my hopes were not high.

Thankfully, this movie wasn’t at all like Monday’s. Oh sure, it’s got plenty of objectification of women and skin on display. The opening credits are over a prolonged go-go dance from Rose McGowan. But while horrible things happen, they happen in the campiest zombie horror type way. The point is the gore, not the body being gored. And it happens to everyone! Equal opportunity gore! It manages to hit the target that Death Proof missed by such a wide margin.

Of course, they’re not quite the same sort of movie. One is a stalker/serial killer sort of thing and the other is a zombie apocalypse. And neither genre is one I go for on a regular basis, so maybe it’s a thing with the former that would always piss me off. But I actually enjoyed the latter. It had a bizarre awareness of itself that goes well beyond the level of self-awareness I expected. On one level, it’s an over-the-top homage to zombie flicks. On another level it’s a not-half-bad zombie flick, homage or not. And then it dips into parody every so often, doing something so wildly hilarious that it’s practically daring you to take it at all seriously because the characters are playing it entirely straight. I appreciate that sort of subtlety. And yes, I did just use the word subtlety to describe this movie. But I swear I mean it only in reference to the layers going on. Not the plot or the action or the characters or the dialogue.

Like I said, it’s a zombie apocalypse. There’s a plot about the military and biochemical agents and how some chemist is selling this toxic stuff to Bruce Willis for some reason and then he releases it when Willis threatens him. But really? Who cares how it starts? How it starts is not the point. The point is there are zombies that start to take over the town the movie takes place in. And so we follow an ensemble of characters as they band together (or not) and fight for their survival. In amongst those characters we’ve got a mysterious badass named Wray, his ex, former stripper Cherry, a couple of bickering twin babysitters, a pair of brothers who’ve been feuding over a barbecue sauce recipe (one of whom is a cop), Dr. Dakota Block and her husband (whom she’s cheating on cause he’s creepy and she’s scared of him) and a few other assorted folks who have no lines. The go from location to location, shooting their way out and causing carnage as zombies descend upon them.

Of course everything goes horribly wrong at every turn. Dr. Block’s husband shoots her hands up with anesthetic at one point, rendering them useless so she has the manual dexterity of a cat, forced to bat at things and open doors with her feet (which cats can’t do, thank goodness). And the movie plays that up every chance it can, having Dr. Block wave her floppy hands a few times just for show. Cherry’s leg gets torn off and she clomps around with a table leg stuck on the stump until Wray gives her a machines gun and somehow rigs it so she can fire it without using her hands. That’s a neat trick. People get their heads blown off, stuff explodes, barbecue sauce gets blood in it. And Wray, the baddest of bad asses in the movie, drives a tiny little pocket bike like it’s the gnarliest of hogs. That’s where the parody comes in. Shot after shot of the zombie-fighting convoy, with Wray in the lead on his tiny clown bike. I laughed through the entire scene and I’m still chuckling now.

The whole movie plays out as bloody and hilarious as one could want. The zombie makeup is gruesome to the point of ridiculousness. Blood spatters so thick it’s like a shower of tomato soup. The characters are really caricatures. But damn if it’s not satisfying in a few key ways. A lecherous guard’s genitals rotting off before he’s stabbed in the eye by his prospective rape victim? Satisfying! Dr. Block firing syringes of sedative into the eyes of jackasses? Very satisfying! Cherry gunning down swaths of the undead with her leg gun? Extremely fucking satisfying. And not once does this movie seem to be losing its focus as a piece of homage. The negative scratches and intentional quality issues are maintained throughout. A reel is missing mid-sex scene. The credits are impossible to read. And not once did I feel like anyone responsible for the movie was trying to lecture me on anything or make a point. The only point being made here is that zombie apocalypse movies are full of gore and badassery. Any other point would just be pointless.

March 9, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , ,

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