Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Grindhouse/Exploitation cinema: More alive then ever!

Grindhouse cinema or just Grindhouse is an exploitation based cinema screening. Usually shown in run down theaters where smoking and drinking were allowed. Non mainstream films, for sleazehound’s, where shown and usually back to back, which means that they would screen two movies consecutively.

The 1980's home video market and renewal threatened to destroy Grindhouse cinema completely. By the end of the 1980’s, Grindhouse theaters had disappeared from districts like Boston’s Combat Zone, Los Angeles' Broadway and Hollywood Boulevards, New York City's Times Square and San Francisco's Market Street. By the mid-1990s, they had completely disappeared from the United States.

Some Grindhouse cinemas are back today, but not because of the movie Grinhouse, which was directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, but because of the on growing popularity of the exploitation genre. More and more rare and unreleased titles make they’re way to the DVD format.

The idea for Grindhouse came to Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino when Tarantino set up screenings of double features in his house, complete with trailers before and in between the films. During one screening in 2003, Rodriguez noticed that he owned the same double feature movie poster as Tarantino for the 1957 films Dragstrip Girl and Rock All Night. Rodriguez asked Tarantino, "I always wanted to do a double feature. Hey, why don't you direct one and I'll do the other?" Tarantino quickly replied, "And we've got to call it Grindhouse!"

And this is where it all began. The production took four years, and got screwed over at the end. Grindhouse where not so popular in the United States, which is pretty weird considering that they invented the concept. And the whole idea and concept were also discarded by the rest of the world. The movies would be shown separately at the theaters, without the trailers. The only trailer that was shown was Machete, before the screening of Quentin Tarantino’s segment; Death Proof. Also the DVD release would not feature the movies Back to Back, and they where sold separately. But thanks god, the Japanese has done it again; they have recently released a 6 disc presentation of Grindhouse, featuring the movies back to back, with all the trailers in between, and a hell of lot extras, if I might add that.

Death Proof is really a sexual slasher film. But the genius part is the weapon the killer uses to get to his victims; it is not a knife, nor a chainsaw or anything in between that. He uses his car! Yes, you read right. He uses his Death Proof car to slaughter his victims.

It is an intense movie, and has the most awesome and intense car chases I have ever seen. This is because of great work and dedication. Some of the reasons are that on of the main female characters in the movie is a stunt woman, who has previously worked with Tarantino on Kill Bill, so she was able to sit on the hood of the car, doing 120 mph. And getting a close-up of the actual actor, screaming on top of that hood, gives you the shivers. And that they follow the cars all the way, no filming from a distance and no filming from a helicopter. The car’s was either chasing the camera or the camera was chasing the cars. This makes it a high voltage thrill.

Stuntman Mike is played by Kurt Russel, and he does an superb job. His character is lovable and a complete maniac. And the best part of the movie is when he is crying and sobbing, because the girls he is terrorizing, is getting back at him. It was hilarious to see this psycho torturing these girls at one point, laughing, taunting them and almost killing them at many times, turn into a big cry baby as soon as he got what he deserved.

Death Proof is basically a Rape & Revenge movie. One of the most stylish Rape & Revenge movies I have ever seen. And I truly believe that this is an Rape/Revenge movie. Considering the circumstances of it being a modern, exploitation feature. Even though Tarantino only thinks of this movie as a slasher movie, he has also stated that Stuntman Mike is not only killing them, but he is also raping them. If it was really intended to be a Rape & Revenge film, I don’t know, but it turned out to be one of the best ever. Not THE best, but one of them.

Planet Terror is not your average zombie flick. It’s a more over the top and stylish perspective on the genre.

All takes place within one evening, but focuses on several different characters and their roles within a zombie outbreak, which makes each scene deliver something fun and intentionally laughable or disturbing about it. And the difference between the characters also makes every scene, and every perspective a joy. You have the weapon dealers, The Military, Doctors, renegades and so on. Robert Rodriguez must have had this clear in his mind, he used these settings and these “occupations” to make a movie where every scene is fun and full of gory glory.

The film uses various unconventional techniques to make the films more like the once who were shown in Grindhouse theaters in the 1970s. Throughout both feature-length segments and the fake trailers, the film is intentionally damaged to make it look like many of the exploitation films of the 1970s which were generally shipped around from theater to theater and usually ended up in bad shape. To reproduce the look of damaged film reels in Planet Terror, five of the six 25,000 frame reels were edited with real film damage, plug-ins, and stock footage.

It speaks for itself, Grindhouse and Exploitation is bigger then ever, and more and more never before seen movies are being released. It is a glorious time to be a sleazehound.

Not so much so say about Planet Terror, and this is maybe a tad late. But I wanted to speak my mind.

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