Planet Terror
Director: Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, From Dusk til Dawn, Sin City)
Writer: Robert Rodriguez
Producer: Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodr�guez, Josh Brolin, Marley Shelton, Jeff Fahey, Michael Biehn, Naveen Andrews, Michael Parks, Bruce Willis
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 185 min (Grindhouse total)
read my spoiler disclaimer


Planet Terror (segment):

Fake trailer #1: Machette
directed by Robert Rodriguez
(3/5 stars) It stars Danny Trejo as an illegal immigrant forced to go on a blood thirsty rampage. A fantastic cameo role by Cheech Marin put the icing on the cake. You can see parts of Machette in the trailer for Grindhouse (posted below for a limited time). Of all the fake trailers within Grindhouse, this was my least favorite, but a great trailer with some amazingly fun shots just the same. Could be a true grindhouse classic... if it were real!

a review by Andrew James
     Prescription: take a dose of reality and shove it straight up your ass. Planet Terror is the first of two films that are all a part of Grindhouse: Tarantino and Rodriguez' brainchild of a throwback to the exploitation films of the 70's. grindhouses were popular in the 70's as a very seedy type of theater (very often outdoors) in a less than upscale part of town. They played very low budget B-films catering to fans of extreme violence, nudity and sex; with very little substance or deep storyline.

      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 because they had been hacked up and spliced poorly by amateurs like they were using ceramic knives. Rodriguez has digitally 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.

      Planet Terror all takes place within one evening, but focusses on several different characters and their roles within a zombie outbreak. We have Cherry, a stripper just trying to get out of town, but runs into ex-boyfriend, Wray, played by Freddy Rodriguez. Next we have The Blocks: a doctor/nurse, husband/wife team who are at brutal odds with one another. There's the local police force of Earl McGraw (Michael Parks) - you may remember him in From Dusk til Dawn (also playing Earl McGraw) - and Sherriff Hague (Michael Biehn). Then we have the military presence and their involvement in the outbreak. These characters include a testicle collecting mercenary played by Naveen Andrews (Sayid from "Lost") and military commander Bruce Willis. All of these characters intersect with one another at various points throughout the picture.

      The dialogue and characterizations were perfect. Each character has some quotable line at one point or another throughout the film. These may be simple one liners or long stretches of monologue that can only be pulled off in this way by a script writer like Robert Rodriguez.

      As I'm a zombie fan, this was a fantastically fun time at the theater. Mutated zombies are blown to pieces throughout and there are several gross-out moments that are so over the top they aren't even all that violent - just cartoonish. That's not to say it's appropriate for younger kids. This is definitely 'R' rated for a reason.

      Without getting into spoiler territory, this is a difficult film to review since the plot is so simple and basically non-existant. Kill the zombie and get to safety. That's about it. The fun lies with all of the surprises, laughs and unique ideas (like fitting a one legged woman's stump with a machine gun and rocket launcher that she can somehow fire without pulling the trigger - you can see this in the trailer below as well). Each scene has something fun and intentionally laughable or disturbing about it. A woman with no feeling in her hands trying to open a car door and get away quickly, for example. These are just two examples. The film is loaded with other ones.

      The soundtrack must also be taken note of. It's one of the most creative and retro sounding scores I've ever heard. The music was all written and performes by director Robert Rodriguez himself and portrays beautifully the feel of old 70s and early 80s, b-class horror films like Night of the Comet or Creepshow. Some cheesy, heart pounding orchestral music, laced with casio keyboard/70s electronica and topped with some distortion heavy guitar riffs. Here are a few short examples of what kind of music this movie is loaded with:

His Prescription... Pain


Hospital Epidemic


Zero to Fifty in Four


      Planet Terror in my opinion was the better of the two films within Grindhouse and that seemed to be the consensus of the people I was with as well. Over the top action, ridiculous blood shots and gross out scenes (one particular involving a very special cameo) are pulled off perfectly and the laughs and Desperado-ish fight scenes come flying off the screen a mile a minute.

      Don't wait to see this movie on DVD. This is a film that is actually necessary to see in the theater as it really wouldn't make sense for the celluloid to suddenly melt on your TV screen. Not to mention this is most definitely a much better experience when you can laugh with and groan with a crowd. Get a group of friends together and see Grindhouse tonight. It's an over the top carnival of sin and fun.

Press "PLAY" to watch the trailer

Links: - full cast and crew
Official Site