Fifteen-year-old Alex is spending the summer with his family in a farmhouse situated in the middle of a forest. Alex spends his days with his beloved 18-year-old sister Freya in a world of play and dreams. When Alex and Freya are caught by surprise in a very intimate game, the familial balance is shattered. Their father casts out Alex, who manages to rescue himself on the rooftop. Alex swears to Freya that he will never set foot on the ground again and promises to wait for her forever. Moving from tree to tree, he progresses ever deeper into the forest.
A little piece of 1970’s Times Square lands in the IFI this weekend as Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof and Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror finally hit Irish screens as they were intended; as the double bill, Grindhouse. If you missed all of this the first time around, then don’t worry as movies.ie is here to help the uninitiated with a guide on how to survive the Grindhouse.
So what’s all this “Grindhouse” business anyway? A “grindhouse” was the name given to a cinema that specialised in B-movies and exploitation films in the 1970’s. Patrons could buy a ticket and hang around in the dark for hours on end watching film after film. Needless to say with so many screen hours to fill, the features were hardly high brow fare! There was no such thing as being too sleazy, too gory or too offensive; in the grindhouse anything goes.
So where do Tarantino and Rodriguez come into all this? Well, we all know that Tarantino has a soft spot for nostalgia. He has already paid homage to 70’s kung fu epics with Kill Bill and blaxploitation in Jackie Brown and this time around he has teamed up with Robert Rodriguez to revisit the B-movies that were the guilty pleasures of his adolescence.
Tarantino gives us Death Proof, a film populated by every film nerd’s fantasy – a bunch of gorgeous, hard living women with a penchant for American muscle cars and 60’s British Invasion bands. It’s a stylish tribute to films like Vanishing Point, with the great dialogue you’d expect from Tarantino along with some amazing car chases as Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) stalks the highways in his Chevy Nova looking for defenceless (and not so defenceless!) women to terrorise.
Rodriguez weighs in with Planet Terror, a film about the outbreak of a deadly virus from a military compound in rural America which turns the infected into ravenous zombies. If you’ve seen the poster image of Rose McGowan with her leg replaced by a machine gun prosthetic you’ll have a good idea what to expect! Planet Terror is an affectionate take on the low budget horror films of the 1970’s. Drenched in blood, gore and black humour, Rodriguez mixes up-to-date digital effects with more traditional 70’s techniques. Planet Terror may be tasteless and completely over the top but it’s also the most fun you will have in a cinema for a long time!
“Scene Missing”?? Should I complain to the management? One of the things to expect when you see Grindhouse is that at times the film looks deliberately dreadful! In the original grindhouse theatres there were so many screening hours to fill in a day that films were often played to death. Prints were passed from one cinema to the next no matter how bad the quality of the reel until they actually became unplayable. Tarantino and Rodriguez attempt to keep the spirit of these films right down to these details, so throughout both features there is jumping, out of focus shots, reels missing and film that looks as if somebody has attacked it with a razor. Don’t worry though; it’s supposed to look like that! The technique is even used to get some of the biggest laughs as Rodriguez replaces a sex scene between Cherry Darling (McGowan) and El Wray (Freddie Rodriguez) with a “Missing Reel” card.
So, you’ve already seen the films separately… why should you see them again? Well, the versions of the two films that were released last year are slightly different from what you will see in the double bill. When the films were split into two separate features for the European market, they had to be extended to make them feature length. When you see the double bill, you are seeing the films in the form that they were intended to be seen in. You’ll also get to see the specially made trailers for coming attractions that play between the two features, from directors Rob Zombie, Edgar Wright and Eli Roth. If the hilarious trailer for Machete, a fictional bounty hunter film starring Danny Trejo that featured in the stand alone Planet Terror is anything to go by, these will be a treat.
There we have it! You’re now prepared for the gory glory of the Grindhouse. If you fancy some good old fashioned B movie fun then head to the IFI on the 19th or 20th of April.