What truly grinds in the film "Grindhouse," the Quentin Tarantino-Robert Rodriguez double feature, is your butt against the seat.
Checking in at more than three hours, it's one grand self-indulgence that is calibrated exquisitely for an audience that pines for the gory double-feature pleasures of movie forms that petered out in the early '70s. That audience can be counted: Two. Named Tarantino and Rodriguez.
The films (Rodriguez directed the first, "Planet Terror," and Tarantino the second, "Death Proof") are bloody, stupid and buoyant in a kind of infantile way, celebrating mayhem, flesh and gore. "Planet Terror" is by far the livelier, drawing from work by Herschell Gordon Lewis, Italian goremeisters Mario Bava and Dario Argento, and George A. Romero. The situation involves a bunch of people, including a beautiful doctor in high heels, a defrocked deputy, a one-legged go-go dancer, a barbecue chef and a wounded sheriff, trying to escape from a landscape of heavily armed, zombified cannibalistic killers.
Okay, here's what you get for your entertainment buck: lots of folks being shredded, atomized, liquefied, splattered, Cuisinarted or otherwise deconstructed by gunfire. Lots of folks. Almost an hour's worth of folks. The payoff is when the dancer (Rose McGowan) is fitted with an assault rifle where her leg used to be and does some serious zombie pacification. It looks like when you put jelly beans in a Radarange and you get splatsplatsplatsplat. The movie doesn't bother to tell you, by the way, how she manages to pull the trigger, but that's just the critic in me: details, details, details.
Tarantino's "Death Proof" is so narratively simplistic that to describe it is to ruin it. Let's just say it's a car-chase movie fused with a women's acting workshop and leave it at that.
-- Stephen Hunter (April 6, 2007)
Contains graphic bloody violence and gore, pervasive profanity, sexual content, nudity and scenes of drug use.