I know I explained a bit before why Im so busy, but for those of you who missed it, Im directing a musical! Yep, Im doing The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee with the MIT Musical Theatre Guild. We had auditions and casting last week, then I spent Sat in NYC for American Idiot, and Sun recovering from the week. This week we had a read thru and initial character discussions. My brain was too fried to even think about watching something blogworthy. As it is, Im not even sure if Im in the right mindset tonight, but Im so behind, I feel its at least worth trying.
Right, so now I'll actually talk about the damn movie. Most years, there's one upcoming film that I obsess over. I read up on everything I can about it and just cant wait until its out. 2007 had two. One of them we'll discuss later. The other was Death Proof. Wait, what? Isnt this write up for Planet Terror? Yes. It is. Im sure most of you remember this, but when Death Proof was released, it was done as a double feature with Planet Terror. Death Proof, as we all know (or will in five seconds), was written/directed by my movie god Quentin Tarantino. I was in the early stages of worship for him, so this was actually my first chance to see a film of his in the theater with a full appreciation of who he was and what he was capable of. As a bonus, I'd get to see another film by some other director friend of his. That director friend was Robert Rodriguez and that film was Planet Terror.
At this point, I'd seen a few Robert Rodriguez films (Sin City, The Faculty, Once Upon a Time in Mexico) but I really didnt know anything about him. I knew there was some controversy with him in Sin City that caused him to withdraw from the DGA, but mostly I only knew that because of Tarantino's connection to the film. Anyhoo, I walked into Grindhouse totally stoked for Death Proof, and I left feeling Planet Terror was the far superior film.
The whole theater experience ranks up there with some of the best ever. My peeps and I filled up pretty much an entire row at a really packed opening night showing. We all bought into the whole Grindhouse spirit. I think what really made it was the fake trailers, starting with Machete before Planet Terror and then the 3 others in between films. I think the reason I prefered Planet Terror over Death Proof was that Planet Terror embraced the cheese factor more deeply and ended up being both more brilliant and more humorous. I love the bad dialogue and the cheap but overly gory effects. The lighting and gritty film add to the whole vibe, and the timing for the missing reels always cracks me up.
As is often the case with a superstar staff, you've got a superstar cast: Rose McGowan, Bruce Willis, Naveen Andrews, Josh Brolin (who I was unfamiliar with at the time), Marley Shelton (who I always confuse with Heather Graham). I think that juxtoposition of big time celeb and "second rate" film is a bit of a mind \m/ to some extent, which makes it all the more amusing.
Oh and of course, ZOMBIES! Gotta love zombies. Especially when they're being fought off by a machine gun peg leg. I actually had that poster up by my bed for a while. The first time I'd ever heard about these movies was a short article in EW showing the posters and describing some of the fun things Tarantino and Rodriguez did to beat them up a bit, such as dragging them behind a car. Little things like that make me love those boys even more.
I also feel like maybe I shouldnt be thinking about Planet Terror and Death Proof as two separate films. They do have their connections (the "decicated to Jungle Julia" just caught my attention). But I dont know that they'd have made the list as a unit. I still adore Tarantino, but Death Proof is towards the bottom of the list for me.