[Reviews] Death Proof, Planet Terror, Machete

Grindhouse, released in 2007, is two full length feature horror movies put together as a two film feature by Quentin Tarantino and his partner in crime, Robert Rodriguez. Fake trailers were shown before each movie and included Machete and Hobo with a Shotgun, which were both released as full length features in 2010.

Death Proof (2007)

Dir: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson and Zoe Bell

The first feature, Death Proof focuses on Stuntman Mike, a mysterious man who stalks women in his ‘death proof’ car. It is split in to two parts and it’s fair to say that it takes a while to get going. However, the reason why there’s a delay before we get to the action is classic Tarantino – the characters are having conversations and it really does feel as though we, as the audience, are eavesdropping.

The first part of the film focuses on a group of women who are en route to a weekend getaway. A few drinks, a lap dance and a 200mph collision later, Mike’s car demonstrates its death proof status.

Another group of women – Abernathy, Lee, Kim and Zoe – are the focus of the second part of the film. It is not only the women who have changed, however. The scene changes from Texas to Tennessee and Stuntman Mike has a new car, a 1970 Dodge Challenger. However, the game has significantly changed. Kim and Zoe are stuntwomen and boy do they know how to drive a car. Let’s just say that Stuntman Mike has met his match…

Death Proof screams ‘made by Tarantino’ – it is a film only Tarantino could make. The women are all great characters and Kurt Russell is fantastic as Stuntman Mike. However, the film is a little too random for my liking – a strange, aging stuntman has a vendetta against women and stumbles across, amongst others, a local DJ and a visiting stuntwoman? Riiiight.

I guess that’s the norm with Tarantino films, though. You either love them wholeheartedly from the first watch or just can’t get into it.


Planet Terror (2007)

Dir: Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez and Josh Brolin

The second feature, Planet Terror is the more enjoyable because of one simple reason: it’s completely OTT. For every second that Death Proof is tense and brooding, Planet Terror is exaggerated and flamboyant. From a modified M4 Carbine as a substitute leg to an unfaithful bisexual anesthesiologist, ‘ordinary’ is clearly not a word in Robert Rodriguez’s dictionary.

After a chemical engineer releases a deadly bio-weapon known as DC2 (codename ‘Project Terror’) into the air, people are turned into deformed, bloodthirsty zombie-like creatures. It is up to the beautiful Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan), mysterious El Wray (Freddy Rodriguez ) and a bunch of other surviors to stop the infected.

I don’t like horror movies but Planet Terror is worth a watch because it is entertaining and completely OTT. While Death Proof is more stylised with its dated appearance, Planet Terror is 60% out blood and guts, 40% guns and explosions. El Wray are the perfect hero and heroine – Cherry has stormed to the top spot on my movie heroines list.


Machete (2010)

Dir: Ethan Maniquis, Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba and Robert De Niro

And, at last, we come to Machete. It instantly reminded me of Kill Bill, especially with Steven Seagal armed with a samurai sword: after being set-up and betrayed by the man who hired him to assassinate a Texas Senator, an ex-Federale launches a brutal rampage of revenge against his former boss (courtesy of IMDb, who are far better at paraphrasing than I am!).

As with Planet Terror, Machete is very tongue-in-cheek and, to be quite honest, I couldn’t take it that seriously – especially when Lindsay Lohan made an appearance!

To be honest, I didn’t find Machete that enjoyable. I don’t know why in particular, though. It’s ticks a lot of the same boxes as Planet Terror and Kill Bill but I just didn’t get into it… There are quite a few witty one-liners, however, and Jeff Fahey makes a great baddie. Watch it with friends when you’re after a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously.


9 thoughts on “[Reviews] Death Proof, Planet Terror, Machete

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  1. Death Proof is the pick of the bunch but I’m not convinced by it as the Grindhouse movie it is supposed to be. The first half with all dialogue is too arty for exploitation. The second half works but again it is less Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! That it wants to be and more a homage to the films it name-checks like Vanishing Point and White Line Fever. Planet Terror is good fun but a little to forgettable. Machete is a far better movie than I expected it to be and strangely relevant. The real problem with all three is that directors like Neil Marshall are making movies like that for real, not pretending.

    1. Oh wow Andy, good comment!

      In Death Proof I thought that the car chase with Zoe went on a tad too long. If there had been lots of explosions then it would have been unrealistic but you know, I wish more happened then just bumping into each other!

      Perhaps not knowing America and Mexico very well meant I didn’t get Machete as well as I could have… Some of it was lost on me!

      I haven’t seen any of Neil Marshall’s films but I’ve heard of Dog Soldiers. I’ve just had a quick look at IMDb and it does seem 1,000% more realistic and grimy than any of the above three!

      1. Dog Soldiers: is a werewolf movie, it is silly and some of the acting is a bit shaky but it is bloody, violent and tremendous fun.

        The Descent: is by far the best horror movie of the past ten years.

        Doomsday: recived mixed reviews, I think it’s a really underrated movie, take a look at this: http://wp.me/prVbF-1kj

        Centurion: like The Eagle but better: see this: http://wp.me/prVbF-1gW

      2. I’ve been meaning to check out Centurion. I can’t remember who told me but they said that The Eagle would have been a lot better if a different actor took Channing Tatum’s place! I think I would like to see Dog Soldiers, I’ll probably be jumping a lot though!

        Will take a look at your links when I’m back from Big Screen 🙂

  2. Sorry Claire, but I haven’t seen any of these… so not my cup of tea. I was curious to check out Machete because of the cast, but haven’t got around to it. I did see Kill Bill Vol. 1 and was pretty impressed by it.

    1. No worries, Ruth 🙂 As you can, I wasn’t overly impressed with any of them. Planet Terror was the best of the bunch, in my opinion.

      I really like Kill Bill Vol 1 and 2. I did a Favourites Friday on them over here: http://wp.me/pErjN-eh

      Death Proof is no where near as good as them, though…

  3. Still need to see Machete but I will one of these days. The other two are great fun, especially Planet Terror. I think Death Proof has far too much talking at the beginning but then again it was originally supposed to be shorter so I let it off. The second half more than makes up for the pedestrian beginning.

  4. I really like Tarantino, but these all sound rather random, so I’m not sure how determined I’ll be to see them. I’ll certainly vouch for Dog Soldiers though; very atmospheric, very funny, and Sean Pertwee is as good as ever.

    1. They were alright but I’m not in a rush to see them again soon, if you know what I mean?

      We have Dog Soldiers in our DVD collection (my boyfriend’s, not mine) so hopefully I’ll get around to seeing it soon. I think the cover put me off… It’s not scary really but I’m a bit of a wimp!

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