'Grindhouse' -- Blu-ray Review


Well here it is. The big, fat complete, total, and uncut version of Grindhouse that all the enthusiastic horror fans have been clamoring for. The epic, sweaty, silly double feature experience that comes complete with trailers, shorts, and even a little intermission -- for those who remember what an intermission is. So while it's true that both of the "Grindhouse" films -- Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof and Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror -- have been available on standard DVD and blu-ray for some time now, there's something about owning the full-course Grindhouse feast the way it was originally intended.

I was fortunate enough to see the true version of Grindhouse during its raucous premiere in Austin, Texas, but for a lot of genre fans the experiment has existed as little more than two slightly related films. I'll save you the full-bore plot synopses (the films have been reviewed, discussed, and dissected by a wide cross-section of varying film fans), but Death Proof is a crazy road thriller about a bunch of feisty females and one tenacious serial killer, while Planet Terror is a virtually plotless zombie flick that's much more interested in colorfully iconic characters and vibrant mayhem than in anything resembling a cohesive structure. Tarantino's half feels almost like a psychotic stage play; Rodriguez's feels like a whole lot of awesome latex and improv ... and then there are all the little trailers, movie glitches, nerd-friendly in-jokes, and more cinematic lunacy than you'll know what to do with.

Frankly I cannot understand who at Miramax/Dimension thought that Grindhouse would be a money-making project .. but I'm really glad they green-lit this adorable abomination, because it's a crystal-clear example of two still youthful filmmakers who not only know how to pay homage to the films that inspired them, but are also able to do it while still offering a legitimate movie (or two) of their own. For all its overreaching nastiness, tongue-in-cheek nihilism, and goofy gore explosions, there's also a lot of affection to be found throughout the Grindhouse experience. Rare are the filmmakers who will take their love for B-moviedom to such outrageous extremes. Those of us who still "geek out" over old-fashioned genre flick craziness should take Grindhouse as a love letter -- although I probably wouldn't blame you if you had to break the beast up into two sittings.

Oh, and save an extra night for the supplementary features, some new and some old, all of which are ten flavors of movie geek heaven.

Starting on Disc 2, which is split up into two sections, logically, we dig into the Death Proof material:

- Stunts on Wheels: The Legendary Drivers of Death Proof (20:39)

- Quentin's Great Collaborator: Editor Sally Menke (which runs 4:36 and feels a lot more important with Ms. Menke's recent passing)

- The Guys of Death Proof (8:14)

- Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike (9:32)

- Finding Quentin's Gals

- The Uncut Version of "Baby, It's You," by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (1:46)

- Introducing Zoe Bell (8:57)

- Odds and ends like the "Double Dare" trailer, some extended music cues, and a poster gallery

The Planet Terror section looks like this:

- Robert Rodriguez's 10-Minute Film School (which actually runs 11:50 and includes some of the director's coolest Planet Terror tricks)

- The Badass Babes of Planet Terror (11:49)

- The Guys of Planet Terror (16:30)

- Casting Rebel (5:38) (Also, Rebel is the director's son.)

- Sickos, Bullets, and Explosions: The Stunts of Planet Terror (13:16)

- The Friend, the Doctor, and the Real Estate Agent (6:40)

- Poster Gallery!

Be sure to click around on the disc two menu screen, otherwise you'll miss out on a ton of NEW goodies!

- Robert Rodriguez's 10-Minute Cooking School, which actually runs 8:30 but does show off some amazing Texas barbecue

- The Makeup Effects of Planet Terror (12:02)

- The Hot Rods of Death Proof (11:46)

- From Texas to Tennessee: The Production Design of Death Proof (8:01)

- Extended version of the Werewolf Women of the SS trailer, with optional Rob Zombie commentary, and a featurette that runs 8:48.

- Extended version of the Don't trailer, with optional Edgar Wright commentary, storyboard comparisons (also with optional Edgar Wright commentary), and a featurette that runs 9:40.

- No extended version of the Thanksgiving trailer, but we do get a featurette that clocks in at 6:27.

- A 64-minute episode of "New York Times Talk," with QT, RR, and interviewer Lynn Hirschberg

- A 24-minute featurette on the Grindhouse experience at Comic-Con 2006.

- The undeniably awesome award-winning "Hobo With a Shotgun" trailer, which, like Grindhouse cohort Machete, has inspired its own feature-length film. (Coming soon!)

Then back on disc one you'll find A) a solo audio commentary with Rodriguez on Planet Terror, B) a commentary by Eli Roth and co-writer Jeff Rendell on their Thanksgiving trailer, and C) a Planet Terror audience reaction track -- which I plan to check out all the way through some time soon.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I snagged this two-disc blu-ray set real quick, despite the fact that I already owned the individual flicks already -- quite simply because I believe that a film should be viewed as the filmmaker(s) intended, combined with the fact that the full Grindhouse experience is sort of like a gigantic ice cream sundae for old-school genre film enthusiasts. This is no doubt the ultimate version of Quentin & Rob's crazy Grindhouse adventure, and it's pretty much a must for any horror geek's blu-ray shelf.