Featuring: Rose “‘Charmed’” McGowan , Freddy “‘Six Feet Under’” Rodriguez , Josh “No Country for Old Men” Brolin
Director & Writer: Robert “From Dusk Till Dawn” Rodriguez
Also Known As: Planet Terror
What I meant to say with that unintentionally inflated introduction is that this review is from the rare Tomb vantage point of “written after returning from the theater”, so pardon any lack of important info I may have left out at the time of conception. Not unlike how your dad “forgot” to tell your mom that the condom slipped off shortly before what would be your own time of conception! Speaking of wet genitals…
Robert Rodriguez and I started off on the wrong foot. The first of his movies that I saw was Desperado. I didn’t like Desperado.
I remember being psyched about it after seeing the initial trailers, only to be greatly disappointed later in life when I finally did get to view it. Due in no small part to the fact that the adverts convinced me the movie was going to be 90 minutes of muy macho hombres in mariachi outfits killing each other with machine gun guitar cases. I think this was the moment I realized that trailers are teasing whores! They lure you in with promises of the best fuck of your life only to give you a dry hand job quickie, then demanding $200 before they have Dr. Detroit backhand you senseless with his pimp gauntlet and kick you in both shins with his platform shoes!
The pain of this Rodriguez trailer truth was eventually eased when I saw From Dusk Till Dawn, only to come back harder with all the kiddie fare bullshit the man shat out for the next decade. Having kids makes people do stupid, stupid things. I then got my hopes up when Once Upon A Time In Mexico was on its way to screens, only to have said hopes squeezed from me like a toothpaste tube ravaged by unruly brats who squeeze from the center. Monsters. Anyway, then came Sin City to finally stitch that wound closed. But…for how long?
And that brings us to Planet Terror, Bobby R’s contribution to his Tarantino collaboration – Grindhouse. Cherry (Rose McGowan) is a Texas go-go dancer fed up with her job who wants something new for her life beyond half-hearted stripteases. Perhaps a career as a stand-up comedian? Anyway, the little lady runs into her ex-boyfriend Wray (Freddy Rodriguez [no relation]) at the local BBQ dive and a renewed interest in each other is sparked in the process. Meanwhile, Dr. Dakota Block (Marley Shelton) is in the process of leaving her husband Dr. William Block (Josh Brolin) and running away with her son to go and live with her hot girlfriend. Unfortunately, both couples are about to get f’ed in their collective ‘a’s, because at a nearby military base US Army Lieutenant Muldoon (Bruce Willis) is in negotiations with Middle Eastern bio-terrorist/businessman Abby (Naveen Andrews)…who has a very sadistic hobby that, well, let’s just say it involves a source of protein.
Well, things go predictably sour between the two and the experimental gas that Abby’s been working on is released into the atmosphere, melting the faces of his henchmen and turning everybody into deformed, flesh eating maniacs! As with any standard zombie plague epic, it’s ghouls gone wild as the monsters make their way outward, infecting everybody they can get their bubbling hands on and causing general mayhem, including one victim who can only be described as “Mmmmm, Fergalicious”. The big thing that everybody’s looking forward to here though is the loss of Cherry’s leg, as it results in the equal parts absurdly hilarious and obscenely cool “machine gun leg” that’s become the movie’s most infamous characteristic. Don’t expect it right away though, because there’s actually a progression to said machine gun leg and, when it’s all said and done, even the machine gun leg isn’t the last trick in Cherry’s book of artificial limb weaponry…
Planet Terror is a total action flick “Penthouse Forums” letter from Robert Rodriguez to horror movies. Besides the obvious genre comparison to other zombie flicks, there are plenty of other references that Bobby tosses into the mix for the boils and ghouls to get giddy about when they start pointing them out to each other. These include but are not limited to Wray’s reference to his toe truck as “Killdozer”, a painful homage to Fulci’s famous “splinter to the eye” gore whore orgasm circa Zombie, and a great little death scene for Tom Savini himself that pays service to the man’s gory dismemberment work in both Dawn and Day of the Dead. This is how you make a horror tribute movie. Not by beating us over the head with non-stop dialogue dedicated to sucking the collective cocks of the old guard, but by giving your tributes celluloid form so those deserving of them can get the thrill of the old “inside joke”.
The gore is excessive and there were a few scenes of pustule-popping action that had one of my movie-going friends literally choking back her lunch. We get incredibly graphic and detailed exploding heads, severed limbs, gun shots wounds, stabbings, the aforementioned pustule eruptions, bodies splattered across cars, broken bones, hollowed out heads, and every kind of savage violence you could ask for to be done to a human body. Be warned though, because a dog gets killed in a very brief but very violent manner and there are barf friendly scenes of diseased and melting genitalia. There’s also one death that would be really depressing to see if it weren’t for the fact that you can’t help but laugh in the wacky “oh man, I knew that was gonna happen!” sense.
The characters are cheesy and I never really “cared” about any of them enough to say that I was sad to see them go when their times came. Their deaths, more often than not, contributed more to the movie than their actual roles. However, I do have to say that Rodriguez disappointed me as a paying customer to see two certain females live to the last reel, and that’s all I’ll say about that.
The story itself isn’t important, just as it’s generally not in any zombie plague film. As long as we know what started the whole thing, I don’t give a shit so long as I’ve got excessive violence and the human struggle to pull me through to the end! If you really wanted to, I guess you could try pinning some kind of morality or social commentary crap on it like so many movie geeks often enjoy doing, but that’s on you, Roger Ebert. I’m just here for the carnage!
Performance wise, Josh Brolin is a beautifully sleazy mofo, Freddy Rodriguez is a keg of whoop-ass in a 12 oz can, Quentin Tarantino is an unlikable dick bag (which makes his pain and suffering all the more pleasant), Michael Parks is awesome and criminally underused, Jeff Fahey had me thinking he was channeling a mix of Tremors’s Bert Gummer and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2’s Drayton Sawyer (which was a good thing) and Michael Biehn was fun to watch as the local curmudgeon Sheriff. Everybody else is, well, good enough to get me through the movie. McGowan’s okay as the lead, but aside from the running joke of her unipod gimmick, I could take her or leave her.
As for the Grindhouse gimmick of abusing the film stock to make it look like an old exploitation reel, Rodriguez definitely runs with the concept more here than Tarantino does with the latter installment, Death Proof. The film gets grainy and scratched up, the colors wash out, there are frequent breaks and skips, and I enjoyed the overall presentation. I’m obviously too young to have any of the intended nostalgia bias from the theme, as I wasn’t around for the fabled “42nd Street Grindhouse” days, but I’ve suffered through enough low rent theaters and video nasty bootlegs in my time to have an appreciation for the effort. Each of the two movies featured in Grindhouse include a “Missing Reel” gag, and all I can say is that I hope the scene “lost” from Planet Terror was actually filmed as some point and will make it into the DVD’s special features section.
What more is there to say? See Grindhouse! Even if you don’t have the patience for a 3 hour feature, at least do yourself the favor of seeing Planet Terror and the faux movie trailers before heading home for your 9pm bedtime, sleeping beauty.
Speaking of those fake movie trailers, I’m going to talk about two of them here and the others in my Death Proof review. The first trailer is for Machete, a non-existent ‘70s exploitation action flick that wasn’t directed by Robert Rodriguez, didn’t star “#3 on my top ten list of all-time bad-ass movie motherfuckers”, Danny Trejo, and didn’t feature Cheech Marin as a shotgun wielding priest! Our title anti-hero is an assassin hired to kill a US political figure that intends to deport all of the nation’s Mexican populace back to their homes south of the border. Machete (named after his weapon of choice) is, of course, double crossed and must take down the honky assholes that tried to set him up. It’s like Shooter, only liberally breeded with a heavy dose of ‘70s sleaze and a Taco Grande-sized platter of Mexploitation. If I rated trailers, I would give Machete five stars and say that it definitely needs to be turned into a full feature, should Grindhouse 2 see the light of day.
Our second trailer is the Rob Zombie heralded Werewolf Women of the SS – a Nazisploitation flick about Hitler’s secret werewolf super soldier experiments that would combine Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS with The Howling and would star Udo Kier, Sheri Moon-Zombie, Bill Moseley and Tom Towles if Rob Zombie could stuff them all into his Delorean and take them back to 1974 to actually make this movie. The concept sounds great on paper, and I think Zombie could make something like this work if given a full feature to play with, but the trailer itself lacked the thrill I was hoping for. Maybe it was the cheap werewolf costumes or the fact that people like Bill Moseley and Udo Kier need more than 10 seconds of screen time to work their magic. Whatever the reason, this wasn’t a trailer that made me chew my talons off in anticipation of seeing this movie actually made. I have faith in Zombie and his cast though, should this ever merit a full length feature. Three stars for the trailer, but FIVE stars for Nicholas Cage’s cameo as Fu Manchu! I hate the man much less now than I did yesterday.
Xtro: You know that feeling of revitalized joy when you watch a movie you haven’t seen in years and, not only does it hold up, but it’s actually better than you remember it? Like, you’ve seen so much sub-par and/or straight garbage movies in that period that you’ve gained a whole new level of respect for it and life itself doesn’t feel quite as stacked with backbreaking misery as it did before? That’s me having watched Planet Terror again for this rerun-review. I’m fighting the urge to write an entirely new review, just so I can vomit rainbows and praise all over it for 10 pages.
I couldn’t find anything I didn’t like while watching this. Had I the ability to experience the full range of emotions that the average human brain does, I just may have gone through the entire checklist watching the intersecting lives of a one-legged go-go dancer, a tow truck driver, a pair of doctors, a BBQ cook, an arms dealer, an obnoxious pair of babysitters, a handful of cops (including Tom Savini’s bumbling Barney Fife-ish Deputy Tolo) and a militia of army men melting like they were put through a microwave. The acting, the dialogue, the excessive violence, the oozing gore and slimy grimy nastiness, the perfect balance of absurdity, the AMAZING soundtrack, the color saturation, the scratched film, the randomly exploding cars…EVERYTHING! I love it all, and I don’t use the term “love” loosely. Just ask my real-life romantic interests. I do not declare my love for anyone or anything I do not LOVE. There were bits and pieces of imperfect computer effects that weren’t great, even overlapped by the artificially aged effects on the film, but there are big ideas here that can’t exist in practical effects form outside the realm of a Chris Nolan movie budget, so I can deal with it.
I remember at the time Grindhouse was released, I’d read someone’s comments somewhere (good luckin’ fuck narrowing that down) about how these “homages” to the ’70s trash movies upon which the double bill took its namesake were all style and no substance. Some people were expecting less of the typical Rodriguez orgy of action and blood and white hats with tragic, mysterious backgrounds, and hoping for more of a faithful no-budget recreation of amateur acting, lazy writing, dime store special effects, and wall-eyed boobs jiggling everywhere. In other words, those people were expecting something intentionally bad. They wanted a parody that didn’t feel like a parody, not just a zombie epidemic action horror flick shot on film that was then dragged behind a car around a parking lot. I can respect their criticism, more so given that Tarantino and Rodriguez were promising a love letter to 42nd Street and not what a lot of people saw as just another “smell-o-vision” gimmick. But me? I fell for the gimmick. Call me a sucker, but I really couldn’t see Planet Terror presented in a “clean” format, because it’s significantly helped by the scratched film, garbled sound, “tampered reel” fast cut edits, and the “reel missing” gag. It works too perfectly as is to want it any other way.
Oh, and PT was my introduction to how phenomenal Josh Brolin is as not just an asshole, but a nuanced asshole. William Block isn’t even a total villain so much as a pissed off husband who found out his wife Dakota was cheating on him and plotting to not only leave him, but take their son with her. As if the guy clearly loving their lad isn’t enough to sympathize a tad with him, but when you consider how mommy gave little Tony a handgun and left him alone in their car, where he SHOOTS HIMSELF IN THE HEAD, this is one custody case that seems a bit cut and dry in the father’s favor!
If you haven’t seen Planet Terror yet for some inconceivable reason, get off your ass and scrounge up a copy. Given that video rental stores have been reduced to kiosks that only carry new releases, I guess you’ll have to rent the disc from NetFlix or hope it’s on one of the streaming services. Or, if you’ve got $5 to spare, I’m sure you can pick up a DVD copy in your local big box store’s budget bin. And if you don’t like it, leave it on a local playground for some wayward ankle biter to discover. Just make sure nobody sees you.
Moral of the Story: If you replace your leg with an automatic rifle, you apparently don’t need to pull the trigger to fire it, it’ll just know when to fire on it’s own.
“You expect me to pay full price for this? I’m not paying 100% for 80% of a knife!”
For his birthday, Kevin Smith gave Bruce Willis a contraption that lets him literally enjoy the smell his own farts, any time and any place!
Little known fact: that was the original title for the B-52s song “Love Shack” before the record company made them change it.
“I appreciate the offer, but I’ve already got enough jugs of my own, thanks!”
In this outtake, Freddy Rodriguez does his best to keep a straight face when Rose McGowan lets loose the biggest beef blaster this side of Norbit.
This is why you never insult someone while they’re eating a Gushers fruit snack, Bill.
“Do we need a car to purchase gas, or can we just drink it straight from the hose? Hello?”
Ted Raimi Lite – Same great Ted Raimi taste, but with less calories than original Ted Raimi!
On the next episode of ‘The New Enos’, Enos shoots off his ring finger on his wedding day! That’s ‘The New Enos’, right after a new episode of ‘After After M*A*S*H’ this week on CBS’s “Who Watches This Shit?!” Fridays!
Clearly Bill didn’t learn his lesson from the last time.
“I see you’ve gotten a new chest piece since we broke up.”
“Yeah. It’s based on a page from my nephew’s Lion King coloring book.”
Freddy Rodriguez stars in Night of the Living Dorf.
In 1972, Lloyd Kaufman was hired by the US Army to shoot STD educational films meant to dissuade troops from having sex with Vietnamese prostitutes. After an entire platoon suffered from Shell Shock following its initial viewing and were deemed unsuitable for combat, he was immediately fired.
Steve Bannon’s really let himself go since being booted from the White House.
I had the same reaction the first (and last) time I ate a KFC Triple Zinger Double Down King sandwich too.
Don’t even try picking up this lady, guys. She’s a woman of a whole different… caliber.
(No worries, folks. I punched myself after that one.)
“Hey handsome. You’re lucky that massive head wounds happen to be my fetish!”
“I wish I could quit you, Zeke.”
“I know, Scooter. I know. Now get off me. NASCAR’s on.”
I can see why she was the ”Shooter Illustrated” “Stroke of the Month” centerfold 16 months running! Then she was dethroned by that blonde who replaced both her legs with AR-15s, had a small American flag implanted on top of her skull, and has a tramp stamp of Hillary Clinton with a gun sites over her face.
So, after the Zombie Apocalypse the “Henry VIII/Rembrandt” look comes back in style? Good thing I’m too slow to outrun the undead!
Anubis will return next time in
“Sexy and the City 3: Blood On the Backroads”
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