Clay Cane is a New York City-based writer who is recognized for his contributions in journalism. Clay is a regular contributor for various print and online publications such as The Advocate and BET.com. He is the author of the highly anticipated novel Ball-Shaped World, which is a fictionalized account of the black and Latino ballroom scene. Also, he is the Entertainment Editor at BET.com and a member of New York Film Critics Online. He can be reached at claycane@gmail.com.


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    Wednesday, April 04, 2007

    Grindhouse isn’t just an old school, double feature '70s-ish horror flick—it is an all-inclusive, tour de force of a corrupt movie going experience! Complete with grainy film, missing reels, over-the-top previews, sexy lesbians, ratings warnings--everything about this film says double feature at a trashy '70's drive-in. All you need is a two-door car with a cheap speaker stuffed in the window. As Oprah says, love is in the details—Quentin Tarantanio and Robert Rodriguez are detailed even down to the cheesy boob shots!


    Grindhouse begins with the non-stop bang, Project Terror, the story of a small town inundated with a deadly and extremely unattractive disease that is morphing the entire town into man-eating, zombie savages. Cherry, played by the always chichi Rose McGowan, is a stripper (McGowan's first scene is one of the best openings for a camp film that I have ever seen next to John Waters' Female Trouble) who lost her leg in a roadside accident. She falls into a deep depression and cries to her boyfriend Wray, played by Six Feet Under's Freddy Rodriguez, "I wanted to be a stand-up comedian!" After Wray replaces her dismembered limb with a fabulous machine gun, Cherry and an entourage of unexpected rebels fight back against the deranged zombies who could possibly take over the planet. Planet Terror also includes Fergie, Bruce Willis and Naveen Andrews from ABC's Lost in supporting roles--not cameos, but actual characters.

    Director Robert Rodriguez takes Planet Terror to the highest levels of camp, horror, bad taste and boob-a-licious extremes that one cannot help but to enjoy every millisecond of this tawdry flick. Yes, it is a satire on the decadently terrible films of the '70s, however, it still has a surprisingly engaging script that translates to a fickle 2007.

    Planet Terror does not take itself seriously and nearly yells back at the audience, "If you don't like it—f$%k you!" The screen wants to gross you out, make you scream, cover your eyes in laughter (and horror), never missing one gruesome, exploding zombie note. A great example of the perfect camp element is two girls dramatically splattered with blood and the next scene they are completely clean, hair blowing in the wind, make-up to perfection looking into the camera with their head cocked to the side and lips slightly parted. The audience was cheering and hollering—last time I heard that much applause was for Jennifer Hudson lip-synching "And I Am Telling You" in Dreamgirlsthis time it was well-deserved!

    Right before the second film we get a new set of tailors that were equally as brazen as Planet Terror. Thanksgiving (see clip below), directed by Eli Roth of Hostel, was disgustingly entertaining and arguably the best part of the entire movie, which I thought was nearly impossible to top after Planet Terror.

    About one hour and forty five minutes into Grindhouse Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof begins. Expectations are high; we know the madness of this crazy white man who loves black people. He has two women of color in lead roles, the insanely sexy Sydney Poitier (yes, Sidney Poitier’s daughter!) and Rosario Dawson. Well, sorry to tell you, but Death Proof lets us know that Grindhouse is not fool proof. Death Proof was a decaffeinated, cinematic bore that had a quarter of the audience walking out after about thirty exhausting minutes—this was a press screening and when the press (not even the general public) are walking out on a film there is a problem!

    Let me succinctly explain the humdrum plot of Death Proof: endless babbling, Rose McGowan (that's always a plus), a serial killer (Kurt Russell) with a stunt car who kills people, more talking, a drawn-out car crash, more chatter and it's over...what a yawner! Yes, Tarantino is known for these long monologues but in this film it was a waste of eco-friendly space. The motionless ten to fifteen minute diatribes from four girls who rant about sex, relationships and their boring love lives were painful—a bland, '70's version of Sex & the City but without Samantha!

    Outside of the clothes and the music the '70's movie theme vanished. The film was no longer grainy, Lindsay Lohan's pantiless name was mentioned and they were sending grammatically incorrect text messages. Death Proof took the audience out of Grindhouse and back in the drab, flavorless world of 2007 movies. Oh yeah, there is a great car chase scene, which was entertaining but even that scene was too long and unrealistic. By the time the film ended nearly half the theatre emptied out.

    Planet Terror was so strong (and thank God, the first movie) that it annihilates the bad in a bad way film of Death Proof. Now, I will say this, true to double feature form—the first movie is always better than the first. So, did Tarantino do this on purpose? I doubt it; double features can never be boring...trashy, campy and tawdry, but never boring. Death Proof seemed to take itself seriously as a great, dialogue-filled, horror movie, but that is not what you want at a double feature...you want non-stop production so if you get out of the car at the drive-in and buy some popcorn or tootsie rolls you will come back feeling like you didn't miss a beat...you want consistent drama is easy to follow even if you lose track of the plot after getting a blowjob...you want two for the price of one so you have enough gas money to drive to the local make-out section of your town! Isn't that what double-features are all about? Popcorn, tootsie rolls and cheap sex!

    Planet Terror: Tens across the board!
    Death Proof: One chop!


    Overall: 3/4 stars

    Grindhouse is in theatres nationwide Friday, April 6th.

    Here is the "fake trailer" for Thanksgiving. WARNING: This is extremely graphic and definitely rated R!

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    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 3 comments

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