Grindhouse Presents, Planet Terror - Extended and Unrated (Two-Disc Special Edition) (2007)

Actors: Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez
Closed-captioned, Color, Director's Cut, Widescreen, NTSC
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Number of discs: 2
The Weinstein Company
DVD Release Date: October 16, 2007
Run Time: 105 minutes

Special Features:

  • Feature Length Audio Commentary By Writer/Director Robert Rodriguez
  • Audience Screening Track
  • 10 Minute Film School
  • Sickos, Bullets And Explosions: The Stunts Of Planet Terror
  • The Badass Babes Of Planet Terror
  • Casting Robert Rodriguez’s Son Rebel
  • The Guys Of Planet Terror
  • The Friend, The Doctor And The Real Estate Agent
  • International Poster Gallery and International Trailer



You know post-modern self-awareness has probably gone too far when film-makers consciously set out to make bad films. Or at least “so-bad-it’s-good” films.

In this case action director Robert Rodriguez of Sin City and Desperado fame and Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction) sought to replicate the whole “grindhouse” cinema effect with a movie called Grindhouse.

Grindhouses were cheap cinemas in the 1970s which showed B-rate exploitation flicks all day long usually in the form of double bills. (An interesting and funny introduction to the whole grindhouse phenomenon is a documentary named Mau Mau Sex Sex which is highly recommended.)

Grindhouse (the movie) consisted of a “double bill” of two movies, namely Death Proof and Planet Terror. The cinema prints of both movies were deliberately “aged” with scratches, faded colors and so forth to replicate the whole watching a battered print at a grindhouse cinema effect. Planet Terror actually has a faux trailer before the movie itself starts (it is quite funny and very reminiscent of those 1970’s action flicks) for a fictional movie titled Machete.

It even has a deliberately “missing reel,” letting the audience fill in the dots between scenes themselves. The DVD, by the way, goes one step further: you can select an audio track that replicates the cinema experience – you can hear an audience jeering and a guy eating pop corn in the seat next to you.

Death Proof starred Kurt Russell as a serial killer who drives a 1970s muscle car and targeted young women that is, until a group of them fights back.

In Planet Terror Rodriguez’s flick cannibalistic zombies overrun a small town when a top secret virus is set loose at the nearby military base. The gore and violence is way over the top with some scenes directly stealing from movies such as The Thing, Evil Dead and Total Recall.

The most notable image from the movie is of a sexy Rose McGowan as an amputee with a machine gun as a prosthetic. Sensitive viewers should take care to avoid it. It stars several Rodriguez regulars and Bruce Willis in a small cameo. Watching it is like watching some forgotten straight-to-video effort from the early 1980’s the movie John Carpenter or Paul Verhoeven never got to make. Highly stylized and reminiscent of B-movies from that era, the color palettes are often a sickly green with a dated synth music score (of the sort Carpenter’s films were noted for) on the soundtrack.

Cinema audiences however never got the joke as the whole “grindhouse” experience was as alien to today’s young teenaged audiences that frequent today’s multiplexes as were the concept of a drive-in.

There were many incidents of audience members not realizing that the movie consisted of a double bill and leaving the cinemas before the second feature started. Cinema owners weren’t too happy at the film’s long running time either and didn’t go to any trouble to keep the movie running when the film proved to be a box office disappointment.

For the non-US. market (as well as the DVD release) it was thus decided to market and release the two movies separately. Thus with padded running times Death Proof and now Planet Terror are released as separate movies. All that remains of the whole “grindhouse” title is the “Grindhouse presents” moniker.

Back when Grindhouse was released as one feature in the cinemas director Tarantino remarked on the film’s odd concept that audiences were desperate for something fresh, new and different. It would seems that he was wrong however as Grindhouse proved to be a major box office disappointment.

THE DISC: The movie plus audio commentaries are to be found on the first disc. As stated previously, the film print has been deliberately aged to look much older than it is with all kinds of scratches, splotches, color fades and the like.

The second disc is filled with behind-the-scenes making of featurettes and interviews with the various actors and creative people involved. Unfortunately no time is spent on explaining the whole “grindhouse” phenomenon and inspiration to any newbies. But it is interesting and ironic! to see how 2000’s high-tech computer technology is used to replicate a low-tech early 1980’s B-grade look and feel to the movie.

WORTH IT? Gory and over-the-top violent, Planet Terror is a one joke movie. Luckily that joke doesn’t wear too thin as the movie slowly escalates its over-the-top action and instead of going for broke right away only gradually becomes a gloriously (albeit at times faded) Technicolor cartoon. Still, one wishes at times that maybe Tarantino did rewrite chores on the script to inject some of his trademark pop cultural witticisms into the proceedings.

RECOMMENDATION: Worth a look-see, particularly if you miss those genuine early 1980’s B-grade straight-to-video efforts from that era’s home video boom.

If you’re interested in the real grindhouse thing, then check out the excellent Mau Mau Sex Sex before checking out either this movie or Death Proof.



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