Grindhouse (2007)
By: Zak Hepburn on July 23, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Broadmedia (Japan), Region 2, NTSC, Grindhouse & Death Proof: 2:35:1 (16:9 enhanced), Planet Terror: 1:85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, Japanese DD 5.1, English DTS 5.1, Japanese DTS 5.1. Japanese subtitles. 410 minutes
The Movie
Director: Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Rose McGowan, Kurt Russell, Freddy Rodríguez, Rosario Dawson, Marley Shelton, Josh Brolin
Screenplay: Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino
Country: USA
External Links
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With the limited edition Region 2 release of a six disc complete Grindhouse box set, genre fans are finally able to experience the full version of one of the most interesting and controversial film projects to come along in years.

By now the sordid saga of Grindhouse and its series of botched theatrical releases may possibility be more well know than the film itself. However, for those that came in late, or have blocked out the whole unfortunate mess from their minds, here's a recap of what went down.

Way back yonder genre wonder kids Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino decided to collaborate on a project together. The idea was simple; create a loving homage to the exploitation and sleaze filled gems of yesteryear that fuelled their cinematic development. The film would be called Grindhouse, the title stemming from the slang term given to rundown movie theaters that would show outrageous double features of pictures that would range anywhere from B to Z Grade in quality.

The project would be made up of two 90-minute films, a schlock ridden piece of zombie madness titled Planet Terror directed by Rodriguez and a chick gang/serial killer car opus labeled Death Proof by Tarentino. The icing on the fan boy cake would be a collection of fake trailers directed by other cult cinema guru's including Edgar Wright, Eli Roth and Rob Zombie wedged between the two films. The inclusion of fake film scratches and damage, missing film reels and fake 70's advertising would round the package off.

Planet Terror, Rodriguez's entry, is your classic zombie invasion film. Within the first five minutes of the film a military Bio-Weapon is released upon a small town and the effects turn the bulk of the population into rabid flesh eating zombies. In the ensuing mayhem a small group of survivors band together and take refuge in a roadside dinner.

Rodriguez knows exactly what people want with this sort of film and he quickly provides lashings of T&A and plenty of well-staged gore effects. The cast performs admirably with special mention going to Freddy Rodriguez, who delivers a great performance as the hard-ass El Ray, giving the character the perfect amount of verve and humor.

Ultimately Planet Terror is a fun ride, but it does start to lose steam towards the end as the constant barrage of action and gore begin to leak into one another. It must be said that the film plays much better as part of the complete Gridnhouse cut, rather than an individual film.

Tarantino's Death Proof works extremely well to evoke the feel of 70's genre films. The tone of the film is almost perfect and the director really excels by bringing together the films bizarre plot and characters. The plot of the film is quite straight forward; a deranged stuntman, named Stuntman Mike, stalks and murders young ladies with his 'Death Proof' stunt car.

The film contains all the Tarantino trademarks - snappy dialogue, inventive editing and a great soundtrack. Kurt Russell stars as the malevolent Stuntman Mike and gives one of his best performances in years, perfectly portraying the stoic psycho with just the right amount of mystery and cynicism. Ultimately Death Proof may be the shallowest film Tarantino has produced, but it works marvelously as an emulation of B-grade cinema and works well both as a stand-alone film and as part of the larger Grindhouse project. A special mention must be made of the killer live action stunt work performed throughout the film, which is a rarity now days.

Running close to three hours in length, the original release of Grindhouse was so poorly received upon its initial theatrical release that Dimension Films, the US distribution company, pulled the film, sliced it in half and went about releasing the two film titles separately with added content. While this release plan was more profitable (only slightly) fans suffered with the loss of the fake trailers. The overall scope of the project was also lost and the double feature homage aspect made redundant. Worse still, all international release plans for the full length cut of Grindhouse were scrapped and replaced with the two individual releases. While Death Proof received a small theatrical run in Australia, Planet Terror went straight to DVD. To add insult to injury all DVD releases (even Region 1) contained only the individual cuts and not the original grand, exploitation love-in that Aussie genre fans were denied.

However all regions did not suffer the same fate. The emergence of a six-disc Grindhouse box set from Japan (Region 2) has proved to be the savoir for Grindhouse fans. The hefty box set contains the original, un-edited, honest to god cut of Grindhouse along with the two individual, extended cuts of each film and also three supplement discs, one of which is exclusive to this box set.
All three films are treated to 16:9 enhanced transfers that nicely preserve the original aspect ratios. Grindhouse and Death Proof are both presented in their correct 2:35:1 ratio, while for it's individual version Planet Terror is exhibited in a 1:85:1 aspect ratio. Each film is self-contained on a separate Duel-Layer to ensure premium quality. Colours are well presented. As a lot of scenes take place at night the black levels are, thankfully, rendered nicely. However, it should be noted that the Region 4 releases of Death Proof and Planet Terror do boast superior transfer quality, with improved sharpness and colour depth.
Each film contains Dolby Digital & DTS 5.1 English and Japanese soundtracks. Each disc contains some great sound effects and editing and the digital soundtracks work great, with nice surround effects and a hefty .1 track that will give your sub-woofer a robust workout. The dialogue is clear and audible on all tracks but to my ears the DTS sounds slightly better overall with better separation between channels.
Extra Features
The supplement discs included with Planet Terror and Death Proof resemble those incorporated with regular release DVD editions.

Planet Terror includes a commentary from Rodriguez on the feature disc, which is fun and informative, and a collection of behind the scenes featurettes detailing the many visual effects created for the film. These included a "Robert Rodriguez 10 minute film school" - these are included on every DVD of a Rodriguez Film and basically add another outlet for Robert to provide more commentary over a montage of "behind the scenes" footage and some special effects breakdowns. Next up is "Badass Babes of Planet Terror". An in depth look at the lovely ladies of Planet Terror. The male cast members also receive a short video profiling their characters. Next is a short video that details how Robert Rodriguez shot some multiple takes on one scene which Dakota's son (played by Robert Rodriguez' own seven year old son) meets his fate. The scene was shot with two different outcomes to gauge test audiences reaction. After that we get a 13 minute look at the stunts of the film. Last but not least, a strange look at the nepotism surrounding any of Robert's films: his doctor has a small part (as a doctor), his real estate agent is also in there and even his nieces are along for the ride.

The extras for Death Proof include some nice mini-docos chronicling the elaborate stunt work that went into the film and the various cars used during the production. The following is included on the supplement disc. We begin with a video introduction by Quentin welcoming you to the world of Death Proof.

Next is "The Hot Rods of Death Proof", A 12 minute look at cars, cars and more cars!

Next up a 20 minute segment on the stunts, detailing the many psychical effects within the film. This is followed by two minidocs on stuntwomen/actress Zoe Bell and Kurt Russell. Another two 9 minute minidocs introduces us to the other female and male cast members of the film.
Next is an odd little two minutes of footage of actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead absentmindedly singing the song "Baby it's you". It's interesting to see what cast members do during down time but it really is just a waste of disc space (although the young lady is quite attractive.)

Next a segment regarding editing. As always Quentin gives long time editor Sally Menke loads of credit for her craft. Also included is the trailer for "DoubleDare", a feature documentary on Zoe Bell's search to make it big in the stunt world (she was Uma's main stunt double in the Kill Bill series)

The real gem in this set is the exclusive Grindhouse supplement disc. Among the extras is a 24 minute video showing Quentin & Robert announcing Grindhouse at the 2006 San Diego Comic-con. This is great piece that includes cast appearances and a entertaining Q&A session.

Next is a 12-minute Japanese interview with Tarantino that deals with the genesis of the project and his influences - BE WARNED: This extra has vision of Tarantino wearing a traditional kimono.

After that is a 40-minute run-of-the-mill press piece with lots of people backslapping each other. Despite its overt advertisement form and some repeats from what was said in the San Diego footage there is still some note worthy inclusions such as short interviews with Edgar Wright and Rob Zombie about their fake trailers.

Next is 19 minutes of behind the scenes outtakes from both movies and the fake trailers. Finally the (real) US trailer for Grindhouse is included. All supplement discs contain burned-in Japanese subtitles that cannot be removed. The menus and chapter selections for each disc are also only available in Japanese, but are easily navigated.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Simply put, this is the only way to enjoy Grindhouse in the comfort of your own home. The audio/visual presentation is extremely nice for a standard DVD release and the quality of the DVD production and the amount of extras features included is sure to please anybody with even a passing interest in the film and its history. The only hitch is the price; the set does not come cheap. While online vendor prices vary, the set will easily cost over $100 (AUS) to import. However if you love the film this box set is a real treat; the set is lovingly put together and presented and finally allows fans to enjoy and experience the film the way it was always intended to be seen.

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