Death Proof (segment):
Fake trailer #2: Werewolf Women of the SS:
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reviewed by Andrew James
As grindhouse films were often purchased by these theaters cheaply, they had already played countless times; so were often severely scratched or burnt and even had frames or even entire scenes missing throughout the film. Rodriguez has digitially created this sense of wear and tear by adding scratch lines, lots of pops and a general graniness to the look of the film. This includes the soundtrack; and I don't mean the music. The sound of the film is scratchy and they've placed the slight sound of a projector running in the background. The voice syncing appears messed up a few times and there are indeed missing reels; substituted with title cards that simply say "missing reel: we apologize for the inconvenience." It sounds annoying, but I tell you, it's pure genius and it got laughs all around.
Although I liked Death Proof overall for reasons which I will get into in a minute, I felt it was inferior, in my opinion, to Planet Terror and I take some issue with quite a few things in Tarantino's segment.
Death Proof stars Kurt Russell as a deranged stunt driver named Stuntman Mike. He scours the countryside looking for young ladies to kill in ingenious ways with his "death proof" car. The film is really split into two stories that have no relation with one another whatsoever. So it was almost like Death Proof was two seperate movies with the same main character. The first segment follows a group of girls all dolled up in their custom tee shirts all morning and afternoon as they talk about boys and drugs and getting together later that night. Then we watch them hanging out at the bar for a little while with some guys. At this bar is Stuntman Mike along with another bar patron that has really nothing to do with the first group of girls. So he tracks her down and tries to kill her using his car. After that, he goes after the first group of girls and tries to kill them. I'm not going to get into who dies and who lives etc (but believe me, people do die and you get to see it in all its extremely graphic glory). But my point is that there's nothing linking these two sets of protagonists together other than they are both in the same bar and both are targets of Stuntman Mike.
The girls find their way into an old vintage muscle car to do "some really stupid shit." Stuntman Mike targets this group of ladies while they are "joyriding" in this vehicle. Again, this is like a second part to the story that has nothing to do with the first part. However, this is also the most intense part of the movie and arguably one of the best sequences in the entire Grindhouse picture. In fact, I would go so far as to say it's likely in the top 5 best movie car "chases" ever... and that's a bold statement.
More issues I have with Death Proof: one, in the second half of the film, the aforementioned scratches and pops and "used" feel of the reel of film is gone. The picture is crisp and clear just all of a sudden for no aparent reason. It was almost like Tarantino forgot to add that digital effect because he was so wrapped up in the shooting of the car chase. Two, Stuntman Mike's character undergoes a strange and ridiculous transformation. I'm all for character development, but his character completely changes in one instant. He changes from a real tough guy to a whining, screaming wuss in seconds. I admit this was funny, but it also made no sense and I ended up not liking Russell's performance because of this fact.
Now for the good stuff. The characters are all great. The girls in both groups have such charisma, courage and attitude. They aren't women I'd care to hang around, but they are a blast to just sit and watch their banter and listen to the crap that flies from their mouths. This includes Rosario Dawson who is actually frairly underrated as an actress and is great in pretty much everything she does. Also, the girl doing the stunts (you'll know when you see it) is played by Zoe Bell. Not really an actress, but an actual stunt woman. But she acts superbly and convincingly in this role. I would not be surprised to see her in more starring roles after this film.
As I said, the "talky" parts in each segment of Death Proof, although funny and slightly interesting, don't work as well as they could and I literally started to get bored with some of it. But, at one point this second group of girls finally get to the meat of their story and start to talk about a game they want to play called "ship's mast." From this point on, the movie had my attention. It was a great build up, because you don't know what "ship's mast" is and they don't let you in on it until it happens. And it's intense as hell, filmed extremely well and also very real. Thrilling!
So although I didn't like Death Proof as much as I did Planet Terror, it still was a fun time and worth the wait through some pointless banter to get to the climax. It also has one of the best closing shots of any film I can remember. So stay still and keep your seat belt buckled. It may start off smooth, but Death Proof proves to be one helluva ride by the end.
IMDb.com - full cast and crew
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