Let me start by saying that I loved watching Grindhouse in the theaters. The experience of watching these films on the big screen really reminded me of a younger time where I had first hand experiences of going to a run down theater in the Bronx. I remember watching movies like Death Wish with Charles Bronson to Airport (1970) to Godzilla vs. Megalon. Grindhouse does get it right with the double feature, Planet Terror and Death Proof, the upcoming trailers during intermission with the best one being “Werewolf Women of the SS“, scratched prints, and missing reels. Watching the second movie first and separated from Planet Terror, and seeing it on DVD, the Grindhouse experience is really lost.
*** MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD ***
The major gripe I had was with the beginning of the film. With nothing happening and a whole lot of dialogue which really did not hook me, I was really getting pissed. Most of Quentin’s past movie dialogues usually has some great observations that leaves me thinking days after the film. Here the girls: Jungle Julia, Butterfly, and Shanna, did much ado about nothing.
The other thing that I was worried about on the DVD was the return of the lap dance Butterfly performed on Stuntman Mike. While in the theater, a title card pops up to state that the reel was missing. Here, on the DVD, we do get to see the lap dance but does not get completed as the film jumps to the characters in the parking lot. This scene could have been left out and our imagination could have been used to fill in the blanks. But there was an upside to this scene; read on.
On the same token, the lap dance performed by Butterfly, we hear a song called “Down in Mexico.” This song made the scene work as Butterfly rhythmically did her deed to the beat of the music. I am a film soundtrack freak that I now want to buy the Death Proof soundtrack based on that one song. The other Quentin movie soundtrack I own and love are Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill Vol. 1. I just wonder if Death Proof will serve a great collection of audio clips mixed with the music. If anyone owns this soundtrack, drop me a line.
Once Stuntman Mike’s begins to rev his motor, so to speak, the car stunts are just incredible. Like any car crash you pass on the road, you can’t take your eyes off the scene. The same can be said about the car crash impact had on the girls in the car. Yes, its violent and gruesome but expertly filmed and edited as we see the same scene over and over again with each take focusing on each girl in the crash.
The other bonus was an extra scene of the introduction of Lee, Abbie and Kim. I hope I am remembering this correctly, in the theater, Lee, Abbie, Kim and Zoe were introduced all together as a series of shots being taken of them them by Mike from a distance. On the DVD, we see Mike drive into a convenience store parking lot and smokes a cigarette. All of a sudden, the picture goes from color to b/w. I thought there was something wrong with my TV as it could have a habit of doing this. As I checked the tv, there was nothing wrong which lead me to believe that I never saw this scene before. So, Mike is all patched up and as he is sitting in his car, in comes another car into the lot and we get a mirror image of the three girls from the beginning of the film but now with Lee, Abbie and Kim. Mike checks them out and this is when things get creepy. Let me start by saying, the exposition that was delivered by the Texas Ranger McGraw and his son (as seen in Kill Bill Vol. 1) as to why Mike did what he did was a “SEX” thing didn’t gel with me the first time around. However, what Mike did in this new introduction scene to the second half now worked on understanding Mike’s motivation – it is a “SEX“ thing.Mike stalks the car as Lee is singing with iPod on, Abbie is in the back of the car sleeping with her legs sticking out of the car, and Kim is in the store. Mike comes along and looks at Abbie’s feet. Mike throws his car keys on to the ground and we see him getting aroused to the point where he licks his fingers and places them on the tips of her toes. As soon as Abbie gets up, Mike says that he found his car keys as to accidentally brush up against her. She is creeped out and so are we as Mike speeds out of the lot. Moments later, we see Mike again, now from a distance looking at Abbie. When she realizes the same car as before, Mike then speeds away and then the color jumps back to the screen. We then cut into the next scene where Zoe joins the crew. That was a fantastic scene that really needed to be kept to make the Stuntman Mike character work. (Film making 101 – show don’t tell.)From this point on, the Quentin’s game is on track as far as pacing, dialogue and action. I had an incredible time on the last half of the time that one can almost forgive and forget the first half. Did it have to take so long in the setup? Could you do away with the first hour?
Watching Death Proof the second time around make me appreciate the amount of stunt driving that is seen. I really had a great time watching this movie especially when Stuntman Mike goes from creepy villain to screaming mimi by film’s end. The girls – Abbie, Kim and Zoe really give to Mike in the end to joyfully abrupt ending. I can’t wait until Planet Terror comes out and recreate my own Grindhouse experience at home. Fans of Quentin’s past films will enjoy the little nods seen and heard throughout the movie.