Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Grindhouse Divided

Earlier this year, maverick directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino had a great idea: let's take two really shlocky movies and release it as a double feature with fake trailers in between them. This was their homage to the grindhouse films of the 70's. Exploitation films at their best. Over the top and filled with babes, guns, blood, gore and cheesey-yet-fantastic dialogue. They called it Grindhouse and it flopped (purposely? we may never know.)

Both films, Planet Terror and Death Proof, where in their own right perfect odes to their genre. Rodriguez's Planet Terror is the perfect zombie gore fest spoof and Tarantino's Death Proof is the an ode to movies like Vanishing Point and Bullit. The experience I got from the theater with both films plus trailers for non-exsisting upcoming Grindhouse features by other directors, was so much fun. Laughs, cringes of pain and awe inspiring dialogue (only awe inspiring for the cleverness of it.) I loved it and couldn't wait until the DVD release.

Months later, as expected due to poor a box office run, it was announced Grindhouse would be released as two seperate DVDs. This, to me, is a very strange idea. The whole point and purpose of the Grindhouse esthetic is the idea that the experience is more important than the movies themselves. Each film on it's own is pretty weak. Both were purposely written to be cheesey, poorly developed (film stock is grainy and reels are "missing") and over acted. Watching just one at a time, although more normal than watching both, ruins this aesthetic. It takes the idea of the entire movie going experience and throws it out the window. This shows that the Weinstein Company has a lot of power in seperating the two to try and make up for lost box office profits.
Each DVD release is also an 'Uncut' version. Since Planet Terror hasn't been released yet, I Netflixed Death Proof to see what an extended version of a purposely bad movie would be like. Needless to say, the experience was not as gratifying. There were more scenes of dialogue which were highly unecessar. The Butterfly lap dance was not harshly edited out (although sexy, was one of the funniest moments of the original cut when the 'missing reel' happened to be her lapdance to Stuntman Mike.) The seperation of the films and the apparent omission of the trailers as special features (Don't, Werewolf Women of the S.S., Thanksgiving and Machete were omitted) is a travesty.
Will I purchase these DVDs? Only if they release a combination where both are intact in their theatrical version with trailers included. Call me stubborn, but a Grindhouse divided just does not stand.

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