Grindhouse is a 2007 anthology film written and directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. The film is a double feature consisting of two feature-length segments bookended by fictional trailers for upcoming attractions, advertisements, and in-theater announcements. The film's title derives from the U.S. film industry term "grindhouse," which refers to a movie theater specializing in B movies, often exploitation films showcasing graphic violence and sexuality, shown in a multiple-feature format.
The first film is Planet Terror, a zombie movie directed by Rodriguez and starring Rose McGowan and Freddy Rodriguez.
- Doctor Block: Self preservation comes to mind.
- Doctor Block: I'm gonna eat your brains and gain your knowledge.
- Quentin Tarantino/Rapist: I ain't never seen a one-legged stripper. I've seen a stripper with one breast. I've seen one with twelve toes. But I ain't never seen one with one leg...and I've been to Morocco.
- J.T.: Hey, hey. You want some barbeque? Best in Texas.
- Cherry: Oh, no thanks.
- J.T.: What's the matter? You don't eat meat?
- Cherry: Oh, I eat meat. I also eat lots of shit.
- Cherry: [grins] See that?
- J.T.: What's that?
- Cherry: Shit-eating grin.
- J.T.: [laughs] You ought to be a comedian.
- J.T.: [after being uncocious on the floor tastes the BBQ sauce in his shirt] I finally found my award-winning barbecue sauce!
- Sheriff Hague: Your blood's on it.
- J.T.: [after tasting the blood on his head] God damn it, he's right.
- Quentin Tarantino/Rapist: You know what this is?
- Cherry: A gun?
- Quentin Tarantino/Rapist: It's simplicity itself. You see you point it at what you want to die, then you pull the little trigger here, and a little bullet comes out here and the bullet hits you right there. [pokes her forehead] And you know what? You don't look like Ava Gardner no more.
About Planet Terror
- Question: Can I ask the leg question to get it out of the way?
- Rose McGowan: Please.
- Question: What was it like? What were you really wearing?
- Rose McGowan: What was I really wearing? I was wearing a really heavy grey cast with LED lights, and it wasn’t the most high-tech thing, because when Robert wrote it, the technology wasn’t there to do it. Which I think is pretty amazing. And he never assumed that people wouldn’t be able to do it, he just makes them step up and create it. So yes, it was quite uncomfortable. There’s a little ball bearing on the heel, because if you were resting on the end of a machine gun leg or a hospital table leg, it would be very small and round and kind of tippy. And so my toes pointed in the air, my heel was on the ground, and on the other side, I had a four-inch high heel boot. So it was…No. If you’re going to save the world with a machine gun leg, make sure you wear a high heel, at least on one foot. [laughs] But it was cool because…I’m not, you know, the complaining sort. I’m Irish. Just pull up your boot straps, soldier on. But I had to go as fast as everybody else, do everything as everybody else, and they got to basically wear boots and tennis shoes, essentially. So it wasn’t like, “Wait for me, I can’t run up this hill with them!” And I did run up the hill, I just fell back down. But then I would go back up.
No, they didn’t…That would be fun! [jokes] “A giant slingshot is really what that was. A giant slingshot.” Although that would be cool, too. No, actually…A lot of people don’t like wirework. I love it. I think it’s the closest you come to flying. And that was a really tall wall. There was only one time it kind of missed and the system didn’t pull me up high enough. And I had the grey cast, and I just got it up in time because it would have smashed everything on the wall. So I wouldn’t have cleared it. But no, it was just kind of a pulley system, but I had to run. I had to run from behind that wall to get enough force to take off. So running, again, with the ball bearing, five-pound cast, and a four-inch heel, I was like, “All right, here we go.” And they greased me down from my head to…just the back of my head, though. The front’s okay to catch on fire. But they really don’t want to ruin the back of her head to the back of her feet. So that was gelled up, and I still singed my eyebrows off in that. But there’s a picture, there’s a companion book that goes with the movie, where I land on the other side and I’m sliding across asphalt. And even though, yes, I lost skin in the process, I did have a huge smile on my face. And I thought it was just hilarious!
- Rose McGowan: The best description I’ve heard of it, I was talking to somebody, and he said, “I have never laughed and dry heaved in the same moment.” And I thought if that could explain the movie in any way, that would be…I think that should be on the…I’m going to talk to Harvey, that really should be on the poster.
- Rose McGowan, “Rose McGowan Interviewed – GRINDHOUSE” by Steve 'Frosty' Weintraub, Collider, (APRIL 4, 2007).
- Freddy Rodriguez: It was funny because the first couple days we were shooting… the first couple days you're always still trying to find what you're doing. And Quentin stood up one day and said 'dude, you're like Snake Pliskin! The character's like Snake Plissken!' And we all kind of raised an eye brow and we said, 'really?' Cause he is kind of like Snake Plissken. And so from then on, we just kind of stuck with that. Because the whole film had an old school John Carpenter feel anyway, so we said 'yea yea, he should be like Snake Plissken, ha ha ha.'
- Josh: Was there anything in particular that you were really excited to learn how to do?
- Freddy: Yea, the knife… when I was kid I remember my brothers always had butterfly knives and could do these cool tricks and I could never do it. So it was kind of cool to have, I forgot his name, but the guy who trained Bruce Lee and his son. So he would come to my house and teach me all these cool tricks that Bruce used to do. So that blew my mind, I was like, 'wow, Bruce used to do this stuff'. So a lot of the knife tricks you see is stuff he taught me.
And the gun stuff was really interesting as well. I remember seeing Michael Biehn do those great tricks in Tombstone. So the same guy who taught him, taught me. So I just wanted to learn some of that stuff. I was excited to do all that. I've never played an action hero in my life. Because I was given that opportunity I just gave it 150% for it to be believable.
- Freddy Rodriguez in “Grindhouse's Action Hero Freddy Rodriguez Interviewed”, by Josh Green, Firstshowing, (March 30, 2007).
- Incensed at what I heard, I told Rose that she was not blacklisted from MY movies and that Harvey couldn't tell me who to cast. The reason was that Harvey didn't work on my movies, I made movies all those years for Dimension and Bob Weinstein. So I explained that if I cast her in my next film, Harvey couldn't suddenly tell me no, because my first question would be "Oh, really? Why can't I cast her?" And I was sure he would not want to tell me why.
- Robert Rodriguez, “Why Robert Rodriguez Actually Cast Rose McGowan In Grindhouse”, by Corey Chichizola, Cinemablend, (2017)
- Robert Rodriguez: I’d gotten this idea, just before Sin City, to do two short features, like, 60 minutes in length, as a double feature, which I was gonna direct myself. I said to Quentin: "You should direct one, I’ll direct the other," and he said: "Oh, let’s call it Grindhouse and make them like those old movies from the '70s and early '80s. But if we do it, we could do Kung Fu or action, but I think horror would be the best way to go."
So I thought: "Well, hey, the best thing I’ve got is this zombie movie script, if you wanna just get started right away you can finish writing it, I never finished it." And Quentin goes: "Oh, I love zombie movies - yeah, yeah, send it to me, I’ll read it." But before I could even give it to him, the next day he already had Death Proof in mind. So I went back to the zombie script, and as I wrote it, I started really getting back into it.
- Review Graveyard: So Grindhouse was the motivation you needed?
- Robert Rodriguez: It helped a lot that we came up with Grindhouse and the idea to make a film based on these exploitation movies. Because a lot of what they would do is take something very topical and exploit it.
So if Roger Corman had been making movies when the Iraqi war was on then, he’d be using that in a second. Like: "Oh, some biochemical weapon has been brought back to the States..."
So then they turn into zombies, or these infected people with multiple viral infections, all happening very quickly, that turn into these lesions that are just protruding off their bodies. I tried to find real medical reasons for everything and authenticate it. That’s how I was going to explain it.
- Review Graveyard: Did that solve everything?
- Robert Rodriguez: No, I still needed to figure out what my central marketing was. Because these movies all had great posters and great trailers. I’d just written the Machete trailer, which was great: I had Danny Trejo opening his jacket, full of machetes, and with a machine gun on his motorcycle, jumping, then in some water with two girls. Every shot was a money shot and possible poster image.
I thought: "What would my poster for Planet Terror be? It can’t just be zombies, everybody’s seen that. We have some cool tough guys in the movie but everyone’s seen that too..."
I thought: "The only person I really have that I can capitalise on Cherry, the girl with the stump."
I think at that time I had a scene where El Wray puts a stick in her leg, and I thought: "Man, that’s gonna just look pathetic on a poster." So I kept thinking: "There’s gotta be something, I need something. I’ve gotta start thinking less about the movie and more about the trailer, and then I’ll be able to finish the movie."
I was stuck in traffic and then it popped into my head: "My God, she has a machine gun for a leg!!!" Awesome! She’d be like, Brrrrr!!! Brrrr!!! Brrrr!!! Roundhouse! One gun pointed at one guy, another gun pointed at another guy, and her leg twisted back, pointed at another guy’s face. She could be the most badass person.
And because it’s Grindhouse, it’s gonna be even weirder, because it’ll be a real high-tech process - we’ll have to remove Rose’s leg and add it with a computer - but it’ll look very, very low-tech, like it was done back in the day.
- Review graveyard: So was that the inspiration?
- Robert Rodriguez: Not really. I got the useless talent idea from Rose. Ever since I met her she’s always been talking about things she can do, like: "Useless talent number 31..." I thought that was fascinating. I said: "I’m gonna put that idea in the script, but I’m gonna make sure
Cherry’s talents aren’t useless; it’s just that she hasn’t figured out how to use them yet." She hasn’t got to that point yet where you connect the dots and suddenly all those stupid things you learned actually turn out to be for a purpose. There is a plan - a grand plan. A destiny and a fate.
I really thought that this was the kind of movie John Carpenter would have made if he did a zombie movie. If he was a good friend of George Romero and they’d teamed up, or something.
In that year between Escape From New York and The Thing - y’know, that year he had off - what if he did this movie? Planet Terror would be that movie. It has a lot of staples of his movies. It’s all set at night; it’s got very brooding music and really cool, soft-spoken, hard-ass characters. A lot of diverse characters...
- Review Graveyard: What are your thoughts on what happened with Grindhouse?
- Robert Rodriguez: The Weinstein’s said, before we’d even started shooting, "All our foreign distributors don’t want them together. They want them separate. They don’t understand that whole American grindhouse experience."
A lot of Americans didn’t understand it either, as it turns out! You almost had to educate them so much; it was almost like you had to go to school before you could even go see the movie!
- Review Graveyard: Why do you think they stayed away?
- Robert Rodriguez: I think people just didn’t know how long it was gonna be, because movies are just so long now. Like Zodiac is two hours 50, The Good Shepherd’s two hours 50... All these things are just way overlong. It’s like: "God, give those guys some scissors!" Save it for the DVD!
- Robert Rodriguez in “ROBERT RODRIGUEZ (WRITER/DIRECTOR) - PLANET TERROR”, Review Graveyard.
- As the outbreak's survivors - including Michael Biehn's gruff cop and Marley Shelton's runaway lesbian doc - band together to fight the toxic zombie hordes, Rodriguez barely stops for breath. Gone is the talky slow-burn of Tarantino's Death Proof; this is utterly, insanely relentless. It probably winks at the audience too often to be mistaken for a real grindhouse effort (Bruce Willis as a slimy mutant monster? C'mon). Still, it (dis)gracefully pays homage to a time when horror movies were shabby, disreputable and much more fun than today's vanilla outings. It's just ironic that Rodriguez has spent millions recreating what exploitation filmmakers like Lucio Fulci and John Hayes used to knock out for peanuts. There's a lesson in there somewhere...
- Jamie Russell, "Planet Terror Review"BBC, (07 November 2007).
- In one of the memoir’s most gripping chapters, she recounts her affair with director Robert Rodriguez (“Spy Kids,” “From Dusk till Dawn”), a smooth-talking, sensitive-seeming guy who turned out to be a Svengali. He and Quentin Tarantino were planning a double feature—”Planet Terror” and “Death Proof”—based on pulp movies of the 1970s, and he wanted McGowan to star. McGowan fell hard and fast, trusting Rodriguez enough to tell him about her experience with Weinstein. He proceeded to use the knowledge against her, she claims, as a tool for mind games, starting with a scene in which Tarantino, playing a character in his movie, attacks McGowan’s character. “I was in a backward world,” she writes. “I was losing my grip on sanity.” In what McGowan interpreted as the ultimate act of cruelty, Rodriguez “sold our film to my monster.”
- Zack Sharf “Rose McGowan: Robert Rodriguez Filmed ‘Planet Terror’ Abuse Scene After She Told Him About Harvey Weinstein Rape”, Indiewire, (Jan 3, 2018).
The second film is Death Proof, a car-chase film directed by Tarantino and starring Kurt Russell and Tracie Thoms.
- Well, ain't you so sweet that you make sugar taste just like salt!
- Get ready to fly, bitch!
- [after Arlene turns him down for a lapdance] Well, that's alright. You're still a nice girl, and I still like you. But you know how people say [in a John Wayne drawl] "you're okay in my book" or "in my book that's no good"? Well, I actually have a book. And everybody I ever met goes in this book, and now I've met you, and you're going in the book too. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to file you under chicken...shit.
- The woods are lovely, dark and deep, and I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep. Do you hear me, Butterfly? Miles to go before you sleep.
- Hey! Ladies! That was fun. [laughs] Well... Adios!
- Stuntman Mike: Do I frighten you? [Arlene nods] Is it my scar?
- Arlene: It's your car.
- Pam: So what's your name, Icy?
- Stuntman Mike: Stuntman Mike.
- Pam: Stuntman Mike's your name?
- Stuntman Mike: You ask anybody.
- Pam: Hey, Warren. Who is this guy?
- Warren: Stuntman Mike.
- Pam: And who the hell is Stuntman Mike?
- Warren: He's a stuntman.
- Pam: How did you get into the stuntman industry?
- Stuntman Mike: I'd assume the way everyone else gets into it.
- Pam: How is that?
- Stuntman Mike: My brother got me into it.
- Pam: And who's your brother?
- Stuntman Mike: Stuntman Bob.
- Pam: [to Julia and Abernathy] Listen, double fucks, he's just giving me a ride. I'm not gonna fuck him!
- Stuntman Mike: I can hear you.
- Pam: [walks further away from him; lowers her voice] He's old enough to be my dad!
- Stuntman Mike: I can still hear you!
- Stuntman Mike: Alright Pam, which way are you heading?
- Pam: Right.
- Stuntman Mike: That's too bad...
- Pam: Why?
- Stuntman Mike: Well there was a fifty-fifty chance on which direction you'd take. You see we're both going left, you could've just as easily been going the same and if that happened it might have been awhile before you started to get scared. But seein' as you're going right, I'm afraid you're gonna have to get scared...immediately.
- [Stuntman Mike was thrashing Pam around in the car while driving dangerously]
- Pam: Hey, I, I get it. It's just a joke. I know all about jokes but if you can just let me out now, I promise I won't tell anybody because I know it's a joke. Please just-
- Stuntman Mike: Hey Pam, remember how I said this car is death proof? Well that wasn't a lie, this car is a hundred percent death proof. But in order to get the full benefit of it honey, you really need to be sitting in my seat. [slams on the brakes and sends Pam face first into the dashboard, killing her]
- Lee: You carry a gun?
- Kim: Uh-Huh.
- Lee: Do you have a license to carry it?
- Kim: Yeah, when I became a secret service agent, they gave me a license.
- Lee: Oh, I didn't know you were. Ok. I didn't say it. Stop looking at me. I didn't say it. God! Did you know Kim carried a gun?
- Abernathy: Yes. Yeah. Do I approve? No. Do I know? Yes.
- Kim: I don't know what futuristic utopia you live in, but in the world I live in, a bitch needs a gun.
- Abernathy: You can't get around the fact that people who carry guns, tend to get shot more than people who don't.
- Kim: And you can't get around the fact that if I go down to the laundry room in my building at midnight enough times, I might get my ass raped!
- Lee: Don't do your laundry at midnight.
- Kim: Fuck that! I wanna do my laundry whenever the fuck I want to do my laundry.
- Abernathy: There are other things you can carry other then a gun. Pepper spray.
- Kim: Uh, muthafucka tryin to rape me, I don't want to give him a skin rash. I wanna shut that nigga down!
- Abernathy: How about a knife at least.
- Kim: Yeah, you know what happens to muthafuckas who carry knives. They get shot! Look, if I ever become a famous actress, I won't carry a gun. I'll hire me a dude dirt nigga and he'll carry the gun, and when shit goes down, I'll sit back and laugh, but until that day, it's wild west muthafucka!
- Kim: Oh you know I can't let you go...
- [Abernathy and Zoe see that they're heading straight for a drop-off]
- Abernathy: Kim?
- Kim: Not without tappin' that ass...
- Zoe: Umm Kim?
- Kim: One... More... Time!
- Jungle Julia: [to Butterfly] What about kinda cute, kinda hot, kind of sexy, hysterically funny but not funny looking guy who you could fuck did you not understand?
- Shanna: Where the hell is Lana Frank?!
- Julia: That's a good fucking question!
About Death Proof
- Q: How much of the time were you actually in the vehicle being chased around and was it as fast as it looks?
- Rosario: There was a running joke all the time that there actually wasn’t a speedometer in the car that worked. There wasn’t a lot in those cars that worked to be honest but Tracie, every time, we’d say ‘that felt really fast, Tracie. How fast were you going?’ ‘Thirty-five’. It was the biggest joke ever. There was one point where the camera truck that was driving with the jib on it said they clocked it at a hundred at one point. It was pretty ridiculous. As fast as it looks was really as fast as it was. That’s actually the best part about it is to know that when you’re watching it, if you’re sitting on the edge of your seat excited about it, it really happened. Some of the best stunt people in the world were doing this. Anything and everything that you see it that movie is something they physically did. If we couldn’t do it, no CGI or special effects were used. If you couldn’t really do it then Quentin didn’t want it in the movie.
- Rosario Dawson, “ROSARIO DAWSON TALKS FEMALE-FOCUSED 'GRINDHOUSE,' TARANTINO'S FOOT FETISH“ by Shawn Adler, MTV, (03/28/2007).
- [Tarantino] had an idea and a complete vision for it right away when he first talked about it. He started to tell me the story and said, 'It's got this death-proof car in it.' I said, 'You have to call it Death Proof.' I helped title the movie, but that's it.
- Robert Rodriguez, in "House Party", by Mike Cotton. Wizard Universe, (April 4, 2007).
- Q: So how did you decide which way to take it?
- Kurt Russell: In rehearsal I said: “I’m going to do some really bad stuff here, so don’t be scared. I’m going to try some really out-there things.” And Quentin said: “Great, great.” So, I was doing all kinds of versions of it and we finally settled down on what we thought was the thing to do. As it went along, he and I would talk about it. We would never disagree and we were never not in cahoots about the character, how he should behave and what he should do, or how he should sound. But we’d get to these places where we’d realise: “Well, we could do this too, and it wouldn’t be wrong, because of who he is and what he knows…”
But then one day he asked me: “Have you ever played a character, or worked with a director, where you started out in one place and the director got you to do something you didn’t think you’d do?” I said that I hadn’t, so we talked about it and I knew he was putting something in my head — either that or preparing me for something. Then by the end of the movie I said to him: “We can just play this out and he gets beat up, or we can do something I’ve never seen before with this kind of character. I’m going to play that word you wrote in the script.” He said: ““What’s that?” I said: “He gets shot and takes off. Coward.” So, I really started going down the road I wanted to go down. There was that sense of trying to find the character.
- Q: Were there any other specific moments like that?
- Kurt Russell: A prime example of that would be the time we were shooting the scene with the girls on the porch, when I was talking with Vanessa [Ferlito], just a straight scene. I was feeling really good about working with Quentin and having a good time. I was looking at her and I just got bored with what was going on for a second and I started doing John Wayne… I’m thinking: “Aw, this is going to piss everybody off but I don‘t care, I’m just gonna do it.” And just at the time I thought he was gonna say: “Cut! Good, well, yes, we could do that…” He said: “Wait, wait, go back to this part of the speech. Do John Wayne. Go! Do John Wayne…! Now do Brando! Do Brando!” It was all over the place, and I thought: “Wow, does this guy love to play!” He’s a guy who loves to play as much as I do. How can you not love that? It’s film. If you don’t like it, burn it. Start a fire with it. If you like it, put it in the movie. Who knows? In fact, that’s exactly what we said to each other: “Who knows?”
- Kurt Russell, “Death Proof - Kurt Russell interview", Indie London.
- Q: When did you realise that two groups of girls were going to be the focus of Death Proof?
- Quentin Tarantino: That was the first impetus to do it. For the last three or four years I’ve had a whole lot of different female friends – I have different clusters of female posses that I hang with. I’ve got male friends too, but the dynamic of a bunch of girls that hang out together has been more my reality for the last few years. I get to hear all the stuff they talk about and joke about, their camaraderie, and most of the girls in this movie are based on one person, or a combination of this person and that person. But I knew I wanted to follow these girls.
That’s what I do – I’m a writer. I soak up this stuff and I’ve got to do something with it. Then I started thinking about the idea of doing something that, even though it’s not a slasher film – because it doesn’t have a slasher film structure – seemingly has a slasher film structure. So with that in mind, I was like: “Oh, you know? That’s the perfect format to have a bunch of girls together and have them all hang out.” Except they have a little better dialogue! [Laughs] But it just presented itself, this chance to introduce this group of girls. We’re all hanging with them, and hanging with them… till something happens.
- Q: Had you been planning to make a more female-slanted story before Death Proof?
- Quentin Tarantino: No. I’d wanted do a movie with groups of female characters but it hadn’t really found a home yet. Then, when Robert Rodriguez told me he was doing Planet Terror, a zombie movie, it started me thinking. I’m always going on little genre kicks – all of a sudden I’ll get on a spaghetti-western kick and start watching them all the time and I was just coming off of a slasher-flick kick, and I started revisiting all those again and having a really good time. So, when Robert brought up Planet Terror, I thought: “Oh man, I can do a slasher film – that’d be great.”
But then the thing I like so much about slasher films are the things that make them limiting. They’re all the same, and that’s actually part of their charm. It’s a perfect genre for subtext. That’s why you can do so much subtextual film criticism on them, because they follow the same pattern. And to f*** with the pattern too much is to f*** with the genre too much. I was like: “OK, that would then make this too self-reflexive.” It would be too much of a reflex exercise to do that. So I thought: “How can I do it my way and get what I want out of it?”
Also, breaking off from the whole slasher film, I realised I’d never really done an exploitation movie before. Even though we spent a lot of time shooting it, I wanted to have that opportunity, as if I was doing this in 1977, on a 20-day schedule. It started reminding me of the kind of movies I could imagine I would have made back in the 70s, something like The Candy Snatcher (1973), an exploitation movie that has all these weird elements.
- Quentin Tarantino: There’s a wonderful aspect that Kurt has that’s fantastic, and it mirrors Stuntman Mike a lot. He’s a working professional and he’s been in this business for a long time. He’s done all this episodic television – he did all those TV series, The High Chaparrals and the Harry O‘s. And he’s worked with f****g everybody. Literally. So he knows the life that Stuntman Mike’s had. He’s even the same generational age and he knows some of the jumping-off points. Cameron Mitchell would have made a really good Stuntman Mike. So would William Smith, or Ralph Meeker back in his day. Kurt knew all those guys, he worked with them when he was a little kid. But also what’s interesting is that he’s known Stuntman Mikes, and there’s one guy in particular he’s basing it on. And it’s nothing to do with wardrobe or tics. The stunt guys too, they’ve all known guys like Stuntman Mike: he never really actually did a whole lot, but just enough to have a career. To make Stuntman Mike real for me, I worked out his entire career. I actually worked out more about his background than I could ever show in the movie.
- Q: Were you daunted by attempting a car chase?
- Quentin Tarantino: It was very exciting. My lawyer was on the set and he said: “You were 100 per cent right.” He was referring to something I said a lot on Kill Bill – that the really good action directors are the real cinematic directors. I’m not saying that’s the only kind of cinema there can ever be, but when it comes to movie magic and wizardry and really knowing how to put film together, those to me are the most cinematic guys. Whenever I deal myself into this, whether with fights, which I’d never done before Kill Bill, or car chases, that’s me dealing myself into that. That’s me doing my stab at it. But I’m not doing it to be “OK”. I’m not doing it to be “pretty good”. I wanted to make this one of the best, if not the best, car chases ever. That was a big anxiety. But we got to the end of it and I knew I had my chase.
- Q: The crash scene is very explicit and also perversely thrilling…
- Quentin Tarantino: The whole idea of it is that you’ve got this total momentum going. Point one is to get really realistic about what happens to people in a crash – you kind of get ripped apart. So the thing is to set up this sequence where the two cars are going to hit each other. We know what’s going to go on. After being in the dark throughout the whole movie, now we’re actually ahead of the characters. The girls are oblivious until the second before it happens, but with the music I’ve got playing… I’m making the audience complicit in this crash. They want the crash to happen. It’s exciting, the girls are driving, and the audience is waiting for it, and they’re waiting for it, and… it’s like a come shot when it happens. And the audience has to admit that they wanted it to crash. If, at the last second, the girls had braked and missed it, they would be pissed off. They’d be totally mad…
That’s the thing: to get them complicit, get them wanting it and waiting for it. Then – BANG! – it happens, it’s so much more horrible than you ever could have imagined. But… too late! You wanted it to happen. You willed it into being. You are complicit in it. Now take your medicine! And you should feel a little ashamed, feel a little bad, but feel like you came. Now light the cigarettes! We didn’t pull any punches at all.
- Quentin Tarantino, “Death Proof Quentin Tarantino Interview”, ‘’Indie London’’.
- CGI for car stunts doesn't make any sense to me—how is that supposed to be impressive? [...] I don't think there have been any good car chases since I started making films in '92—to me, the last terrific car chase was in Terminator 2. And Final Destination 2 had a magnificent car action piece. In between that, not a lot. Every time a stunt happens, there's twelve cameras and they use every angle for Avid editing, but I don't feel it in my stomach. It's just action. ~ Quentin Tarantino]]
- Quentin Tarantino, "Online Exclusive: Horror Film Directors Dish About 'Grindhouse' Trailers". Rolling Stone, (May 12, 2009).
- Kim is unapologetic about her gun, and Tarantino rewards her and her friends by ending the movie after they’ve killed Stuntman Mike, instead of portraying the consequences of their crime. But other films of the 1960s and ’70s — the B-movies that Death Proof riffs on — are not so eager to justify their female characters’ violent impulses. In The Warriors (1979), the title gang meets an all-female mob called the Lizzies who invite their male counterparts to hang at their apartment. This seduction turns out to be a ruse, and the Lizzies attempt to kill the Warriors. Of course, the women are all lousy shots, so the Warriors get away, but not before the softest and youngest among them is injured. Director Walter Hill doesn’t include one frame of a woman getting in a punch, but there are plenty of shots of the Warriors nimbly defeating their weaker foils.
Tarantino allows his female characters to land more than a few blows. You could argue that he does something similar to what Steiner accuses Andrea Dworkin of doing in her 1990 novel, Mercy. That novel tells the story of Andrea, a woman who endures constant physical and sexual violence over her lifetime and eventually attempts to mitigate her agony by killing men. In her critique of the novel in The Scandal of Pleasure, Steiner points to an unresolved contradiction: The violence that men perpetuate turns out to be the only way to alleviate the protagonist’s pain. So Andrea kills men, a twist of events that Steiner calls “intolerant, simplistic, and often just as brutal as what it protests.”
Are the women of Death Proof just as brutal as what they protest? Is Tarantino’s fantasy an imagined corrective to gender-based violence, or just another form of it? Feminist critic Ellen Willis, who died in 2006, might have favored the latter interpretation. In a 1977 Village Voice article, “Beginning to See the Light,” Willis writes about her ambivalence toward punk rocker Patti Smith: “I’m also uncomfortable with her androgynous, one-of-the-guys image; its rebelliousness is seductive, but it plays into a kind of misogyny…that consents to distinguish a woman who acts like one of the guys (and is also sexy and conspicuously ‘liberated’) from the general run of stupid girls.” Her description of Smith could certainly apply to the women of Death Proof: Stuntwomen Zoë and Kim are self-proclaimed “gearheads,” berating the other girls for preferring John Hughes’s Pretty in Pink to classic car-chase movies like Vanishing Point.
- If Death Proof is Tarantino’s fantasy of what women talk about when they get together, it’s a pretty great one. Those “long, long, long” conversations take on a loping, aimless rhythm that mirrors the pulse of the film itself. Perhaps they make Bradshaw uneasy in part because these lengthy girl-on-girl chats are not something we see too often in movies. It feels like watching an actual group of women talk about their lives: How far they’re willing to take things with the men they’re dating, their plans for the evening, how they’re going to score pot. (Not through any men: “We don’t score ourselves, we’re gonna be stuck with them all fucking night.”) With the exception of Rose McGowan and Rosario Dawson, Tarantino cast relatively underexposed actresses to play the lead women. It’s hard to place them in the context of other films, which makes their intrepid characters feel both true to life and super-human. They’re tough, quick-witted women who are simultaneously powerful, unapologetic, sexy, fun, angry, and reckless. They do whatever they feel like doing. And they look so cool doing it.
The stuntwomen characters in Death Proof aren’t just stand-ins for actresses on a film shoot; they’re surrogates for the female viewer who perform feats of strength and tenacity that ordinary women can only daydream of. This is why it’s so upsetting that people mistook the film for a fetishistic, misogynist screed. That it was mostly women who protested the film is particularly disappointing. After all, art, as Steiner argues, can do things reality can’t.
A decade after its release, Death Proof demonstrates that when it comes to gender violence, 2007, or even 2017, can still feel a lot like the 1970s — and in its cartoonish depiction of evil men, it gives those ordinary women license to get angry about the everlasting problem of brutality against women. Watching Death Proof, or any revenge fantasy, is a powerful act of vengeance-by-proxy — one in which everyone gets to keep their limbs.
- Lara Zarum, “It’s Wild West, Motherfuckers!”: Ten Years Later, ‘Death Proof’ Remains Quentin Tarantino’s Most Powerful Revenge Flick, Flavor Wire], (December 28, 2017).
The trailers are for films entitled "Machete" (also directed by Rodriguez), "Werewolf Women of the SS" (helmed by Rob Zombie), "Don't" (directed by Edgar Wright), and "Thanksgiving" (shot by Eli Roth).
- And Nicolas Cage...as...Fu Manchu!
- Fu Manchu: This is my Mecca! [bursts into sinister laughter]
- If you're gonna hire Machete to kill the bad guy, you better make damn sure the bad guy isn't YOU!
- He knows the score. He gets the women. And he kills the bad guys.
- They just fucked with the wrong Mexican.
- If you... were thinking... of going... into... this house... DON'T!
- If you... were thinking... of opening... that door... DON'T!
- If you... were thinking... of checking out... the basement... DON'T!
- If you... were thinking... of seeing... this movie... alone... DON'T!
- HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN! He's pissed! And he wants answers!
- He's cashing in his nickels and dimes for a new way of life.
- This Thanksgiving... prepare... to have the stuffing scared out of you.
- White meat. Dark meat. All will be carved.
- This Thanksgiving... you'll be coming home for the holidays... in a body bag.
About Grindhouse (film)
- Quentin Tarantino's "Death Proof" and Robert Rodriguez's "Planet Terror" play as if "Night of the Living Dead" (1967) and "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" were combined on a double bill under the parentage of the dark sperm of vengeance.
- My own field of expertise in this genre is the cinema of Russ Meyer, and I was happy to see QT's closing homage to the tough girls and the beaten stud in "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" (1965), which John Waters has named as the greatest film of all time. One heroine even copies Tura Satana's leather gloves, boots and ponytail. I may have spotted, indeed, the most obscure quotation from Meyer. In an opening montage of his "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" (1970), there is a brief, inexplicable shot of a boot crushing an egg. Rodriguez uses the same composition to show a boot crushing a testicle. So the Cinema marches on.
- Q: So is the point of Grindhouse for the two of you to make the best ”crappy” movie you can?
- Tarantino: You’re bringing all the judgment there. That’s your adjective. I never use the term crap. Ever! These are not so-bad-they’re-good movies. I love this stuff! And that’s what we want to re-create. For lack of a better word, we want Grindhouse to be a ride. I think we could both go out with our movies and have them stand on their own. But what’s so good about this is it’s two movies, and trailers, and bad prints, and if a little bit of gang violence breaks out in the theater, all the better! It just makes the whole experience more interactive!
- Quentin Tarantino, “Grindhouse: Tarantino and Rodriguez interview”, by Chris Nashawaty, EW.com, (06/23/2006).
- Wired: How did you and Tarantino dream up Grindhouse?
- Rodriguez: I would go to Quentin's house, and he'd screen several old trailers from the '70s, like Vanishing Point, Rolling Thunder, some sexsploitation and zombie stuff. Then he'd play a feature — all scratched up with missing reels and things — then more trailers and then a second feature. It's a great experience to watch movies this way. I told Quentin, "We should do a double feature. I'll do one, and you do one." We came up with most of the movie right there.
- Wired: Tarantino's film is about murders on a movie set — yours is a zombie flick?
- Rodriguez: It's about a small town that gets taken over by a military chemical weapon. It started out as a zombie movie, but when I was reading the script to a doctor friend, he kept saying, "I know what that is. That's necrotizing fasciitis." So it's all based on realistic stuff. Different viral infections that make people psychotic. It feels very much like a John Carpenter movie.
- Robert Rodriguez, “ROBERT RODRIGUEZ”, by Robert La Franco, WIRED, (04.01.07).