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Grindhouse - Blu-ray Review

5 Stars


Grindhouse Blu-ray Review

Fans of the original Grindhouse experience rejoice!  Miramax has seen fit to release the double-feature assault of Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror and Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof in their theatrical cut versions, complete with the fake trailers (to Machete, Werewolf Women of the S.S., Don’t, and Thanksgiving) and all  the personal theatre touches that made the experience so much fun in its first run.  Now, you too can host your own Grindhouse party!  What is remarkable about this release is just how well the fun and love for filmmaking continues to explode from the screen – except this time it’s your television screen.

The Grindhouse experience begins with scratchy slide-like messages from the theatre and then the original faux trailer for Machete blasts the viewer into a time when schlocky B-movie drive-in flicks were King among teenagers.  It’s bloody, graphic, and sexually charged; a perfect way to introduce a first-time viewer into the weird and wacky world of exploitation cinema.  Welcome to the Grindhouse, it just might blow your mind.

The first feature in the double-billing is Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, a sci-fi gorefest filled with enough charming camp to outlast the dog days of summer.  Rose McGowan stars as Cherry Darling, a go-go dancer turned unlikely savior, when an entire population gets wiped out due to a mysterious bio-chemical gas that turns the living into flesh-hungry “sickos” whose only ambition is to kill, kill, kill.  Co-starring Freddy Rodriguez as the mysterious El Wray, Josh Brolin (looking exactly like his father did in The Amityville Horror), Jeff Fahey, Michael Bein, Tom Savini and Bruce Willis as Lt. Muldoon, Planet Terror is a dead-panned kick to the cinematic crotch of exploitation cinema.  It’s gnarly swift in its pacing and certainly boyishly exuberant in its celebration of sex, blood, and zombies.  If the opening dance number by McGowan – which finds her licking her shimmering reflection - doesn’t “fancy” your “tickle”, then you just might not be among the living.  But, much to Rodriguez and Tarantino’s credit, that’s only half of why Planet Terror works.  The film is designed to appear straight out of the 1970’s; it’s been harshly processed (more so than Death Proof) – full of scratches, damaged touches, and reel pops and quick edits.  Those expecting a pristine-appearing film should look elsewhere.  Planet Terror is not Planet Hollywood.

After a brief – but certainly entertaining – intermission that concludes with a second batch of faux trailers that will have you in stitches, Tarantino’s Death Proof ushers in the second-half of the double-feature.  This gearheaded full-throttle assault, written and directed by Tarantino, is unmistakably a celebration of chick power, the slasher genre, and classic cars.  Hidden in the mix; however, is Tarantino’s expression of how car stunts should be filmed.  Blistering straight out from the cinematic edges of Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry, the vehicular stunts in Death Proof are from another age of Hollywood – one before CGI and AVID editing – and they are certainly more visceral and exciting than one would expect.  Embracing the momentum of high-speed revenge, Tarantino tells two loosely jointed stories, both hinging on a sadist named Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) who terrorizes young women - after stalking them from a distance for some time - with his “death-proofed” stunt car.    Death Proof stars Zoë Bell, Rosario Dawson, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Jordan Ladd, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Vanessa Ferlito, Eli Roth, and Rose McGorwan, but the celebrated “star” of the movie should be the fact that the movie is the first time Tarantino serves as his own cinematographer – and his compositions are glorious ass “zingers” that he’s sure to revisit again.  The camera treats brutality and sexuality as the same animal, panning across its multiple open-road horizons of flesh with a devote frankness.

It might have been originally been released back in theatres during the spring of 2007, but Grindhouse – as an experience - has a timeless quality to it.  Maybe that’s because it has been gloriously affected by its own scratchy effects to the point that it injects a healthy amount of surrealness in what it is celebrating.  Maybe it’s because its filmmakers (Rodriguez and Tarantino) and faux trailer-makers (Rob Zombie, Edgar Wright, and Eli Roth) are self-confessed and celebrated film geeks who know enough about the seedy side of cinema to make even the toughest of gardens grow some gigantically odd-looking flowers.  Whatever the case may be, Grindhouse is reason enough to believe in the power of actually going “out” to the movies.


Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - October 5, 2010
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, Spanish
Audio:
English: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs:
50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)

Reviewing Grindhouse as a HD release is a bit tricky considering how it has been processed to look like a pairing of some heavily time-damaged films.  The disc is presented in its original theatrical cut with an AVC encoded image in 1080p and a 2.35:1 aspect ratio that faithfully recreates the original experience of seeing these two films back-to-back.   The grain is (purposely) overdone, the color is heavily saturated (also typical of the period), and the low contrast levels are faithfully represented to create the appearance of a fourth-run film at a creepy movie house. Ironically enough, the soundscape of Grindhouse is presented with a lossless Dolby Digital 5.1 track.  Some of the hiss and audio drops are missed, but still a worthy collection to add to your film library.

Supplements:

Commentaries:

  • Located on Disc One, Rodriguez provides commentary for the Grindhouse experience.  Director Eli Roth provides a squirmingly hysterical commentary on his faux trailer for Thanksgiving.  There are more commentaries located on Disc Two.

As previously mentioned, Grindhouse is a two-disc set.  There are plenty of special features and, combined with the previously released director’s cut of each film, makes for a healthy dose of information about the two films.  Disc One only skims the surface, but it does contain the movies.  Disc Two is the “meat and potatoes” portion of the set, containing an exhaustive and impressive array of information about the making of each of the two films.

Disc One:

Includes the full Grindhouse experience, just sit back and enjoy.

Audience Reaction Track for those who don’t know when to laugh or scream!

Disc Two:

For Planet Terror

  • 10 Minute Film School (12:00)
  • The Badass Babes of 'Planet Terror' ( 11:50)
  • The Guys of 'Planet Terror' (16:00)
  • Casting Rebel (5:40).
  • Sickos, Bullets and Explosions: The Stunts of 'Planet Terror' (13:16)
  • The Friend, the Doctor and the Real Estate Agent (7:00)
  • Robert Rodriguez' 10 Minute Cooking School (8:30)
  • The Makeup Effects of 'Planet Terror' (12:00)
  • 'Planet Terror' Poster Gallery

And for Tarantino’s Death Proof

 

  • Stunts on Wheels: The Legendary Drivers of 'Death Proof' (20:39)
  • Quentin's Greatest Collaborator: Editor Sally Menke (4:36)
  • The Guys of 'Death Proof' (8:14)
  • Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike (9:32)
  • Finding Quentin's Gals (21:13)
  • Extended Movie Cues (10:28)
  • Uncut 'Baby, It's You' by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (1:46)
  • Introducing Zoë Bell (8:57)
  • The Hot Rods of 'Death Proof' (11:46)
  • From Texas to Tennessee: The Production Design of 'Death Proof' (8:01)
  • 'Double Dare' Trailer (2:34)
  • 'Death Proof' Poster Gallery

Next, we move on to information about the faux trailers:

  • Extended 'Werewolf Women of the S.S.' Trailer (with optional commentary by Rob Zombie) (5:00)
  • The Making of 'Werewolf Women of the S.S.' Trailer (8:48)
  • Extended 'Don't' Trailer (with optional commentary by Edgar Wright) (1:35)
  • The Making of 'Don't' Trailer (9:40)
  • 'Don't' Storyboard/Trailer Comparison (with optional commentary by Edgar Wright) (1:40)
  • 'Don't' Storyboards Still Gallery;
  • 'Don't' Poster (with extended score excerpts by David Arnold) (6:00)
  • The Making of 'Thanksgiving' Trailer (6:27)

And, finally, supplementals to the supplemental with

  • New York Times Talk with Tarantino and Rodriguez (1:04:06)
  • Comic-Con 2006 (23:35),
  • Hobo With A Shotgun trailer (2:00): NOTE - this is another faux trailer and winner of a Grindhouse contest.  It was used for the Canadian release of Grindhouse and is now being made into a feature-length film.

{pgomakase}

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