Blood, sex amp; violence: only at the Grindhouse

by Beacon Staff • April 4, 2007

The celluloid bubbles. The film crackles and hiccups. At times, entire frames are missing. Uncensored action, violence, sex and gore-almost too unbelievable to behold-bleed through the screen. It's the exploitative, sinful cinema they wouldn't, and couldn't, show at the mainstream multiplexes. And it's only at the grindhouse.

Popular in the '60s and '70s, grindhouses were theatres that showed back-to-back films, a double feature packed with thrills, chills and notoriously bad acting.

Though once victim to robot mockery on "Mystery Science Theater 3000," the genre has resurfaced in the form of Grindhouse, a true "two for the price of one" deal featuring a pair of 85-minute features created by masters of the craft Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.

The dynamic and devilish duo teams up for this homage to B movies of the past, films of which both men are avid fans.

"They're nostalgic movies," said Marley Shelton, who plays Dr. Dakota Block, in a press call with The Beacon.

First up, Rodriguez (Sin City) presents Planet Terror, a zombie-fest complete with a martial-arts action hero (Freddy Rodriguez) and a femme fatale (Rose McGowan) whose legs are quite literally lethal-her right limb is a machine-gun prosthetic.

Then, Tarantino offers Death Proof, a combination slasher flick and action blockbuster. Kurt Russell stars as Stuntman Mike, a serial killer who stalks beautiful young women in a small Texas town, muscle cars being his weapons of choice.

Suffice it to say, expect Grindhouse to represent the movie-going experience any fan of either director would enjoy.

"They go to the beat of their own drums, and they take chances," said Vanessa Ferlito, who plays Arlene in Death Proof. "You can hear [Tarantino's dialogue] a mile away."

Though Rodriguez prefers to show and Tarantino to tell, the real-life friends and contemporaries never clashed visions.

"That was the beauty of this project, just to have two totally different styles coming together, and working together," Shelton said.

In typical Tarantino/Rodriguez fashion, women are prominent players, the sexy sirens who can maintain their feminine vulnerability while simultaneously being completely badass.

"It's very empowering to women," Ferlito said.

Adding to the authenticity of the exploitation formula, fake trailers appear during an "intermission" between the two movies. Directed by Rodriguez, Eli Roth (Hostel), Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) and Rob Zombie (The Devil's Rejects), potential grindhouse offerings include Don't Scream and Werewolf Women of the S.S.

Even the film's official Web site is reminiscent of an interactive John Carpenter thriller. Check out grindhousemovie.net and play Scream Machine, a game for the Ed Gein in everyone. Each yielded weapon evokes a different scream from its victim.

Amidst the gallons of red dye, corn syrup and gruesome guts, many cast members delighted in the relaxed and entertaining atmosphere of the shoot, comparing the movie to a rollercoaster ride.

"It defies summarization in some ways," said Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Lee in Death Proof. "You just gotta let go, and give into it, and have a great time. It's just all-out fun."