One of my most highly anticipated films of the year has opened in all of its glory to a shabby fourth place at the box office, but on the bright side, it's one of the best reviewed movies of the year according to Rotten Tomato's counts, it seems to have longevity since it opened over a family weekend of Spring Break and the buzz is positive, and it's likely to make back its production budget, especially with talk of opening the movies separately overseas, and rereleasing them separately in the US as well to make up for some of its losses. Selling it off of the concept of the "Grindhouse" was foreign to a lot of people - that and using the directors' names to fan the fires was probably a mistake. This is America after all: Are We Done Yet was obviously a shoe-in for the top three, especially given its low rating of less than 10% critical approval and atrocious trailers. But enough of the disappointing financials; In the end what matters is the art - and Grindhouse was awesome.
Robert Rodriguez' Planet Terror was more of a Grindhouse movie than Quentin Tarantino's film, and while it wasn't as good as Death Proof, it was still really, really great with its oozing zombies, strippers (excuse me - go-go girls) and general parody of the genre. Rodriguez went all-out in his attempt to replicate this sort of movie, with grainy film and missing reels that skipped chunks of story. I didn't realize Fergie was in the movie until afterwards when Patrick joked that the zombies found her "Fergilicious," but the cast overall was really great, particularly Rose McGowen and her phantom limb accessories. All-out cheesy good-fun, this was a fantastic beginning to the double feature.
The faux commercials between the two feature films were all pretty fun, but Eli Roth's trailer for "Thanksgiving" was easily the stand-out, despite a surprise guest appearance attached to Rob Zombie's. When the films are split, I assume these will unfortunately be separated from either film, which is a shame. But it's a shame generally that people won't be able to enjoy these movies overseas the way they were meant to be seen (at least until the DVD release, presumably).
The real gem of Grind House was without a doubt Quentin's film Death Proof, although without this movie's attachment, I would have still been thoroughly entertained. Death Proof was a little too good to be a Grindhouse movie, but like A.O. Scott said on Ebert & Roeper where he guest-reviewed, Tarantino took a different approach and combined aspects from different types of movies to create his: car chase films, women revenge thrillers, his own movies... Rose McGowan was also in this movie, playing a different character in a supporting role, with Kurt Russell and Rosario Dawson heading this film up. Uma Thurman's stunt double from Kill Bill, Zoe Bell, performed all of her own stunts in this CGI-free film in some amazing scenes, as herself. What really won me over in the end was the dialogue, which Tarantino is known for. It seems quite a few people didn't enjoy this aspect of the film and thought that it kind of padded it out, but I loved it. The soundtrack, featuring a fantastic song by April March, is also incredible and I immediately went out and purchased it. It's not as good as Tarantino's soundtracks for Kill Bill, but it's definitely worth seeking out.
I highly, highly recommend Grind House. Death Proof is my second favorite Tarantino movie after Kill Bill (which happens to be my favorite movie of all time), and the rest is just icing on the cake. You just can't replicate the experience you have seeing this film in the theater on a DVD, so I suggest seeing it before it's pulled. It's worth the admission ten times over and really, what better way to spend three hours than in celebration of grindhouse films?