Grindhouse review (2-disc Blu-ray)

When Grindhouse failed to set the US box office alight back in 2007, the wise old owls sitting atop The Weinstein Company decided to split the films, and drop the faux trailers, for the international release – disappointing many millions of Tarantino and Rodruiguez fans. Hallelujah, then, for this Blu-ray release that gives us the orginal theatrical Grindhouse experience that we all wanted in the first place. And it's about damned time, too.

This love letter to the B movies of the 70s is three hours of gore-filled, action-packed kitchsy fun. We open with Rodriguez's fake trailer for Machete – which has now been made as a full-length feature, making this a fake trailer for a real film. Then we move on to the Rodriguez-directed Planet Terror, a gruesome homage to good old zombie films. An accidentally-released chemical weapon causes throbbing pustules, weeping sores and, oh yes, a craving for flesh among the small town folk. A small number of survivors decide to fight, led by Wray (Freddy Rodriguez) and his go-go dancing ex Cherry (McGowan).

Then comes a series of brillaintly clever mock trailers, each shot by guest directors Eli Roth (Thanksgiving), Rob Zombie (Werewolf Women of the SS) and Edgar Wright (Don’t). And onto the second feature, Tarantino's Death Proof – an homage to 70s car flicks such as Vanishing Point, Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry and Gone In 60 Seconds. This tale of Stuntman Mike (Russell), a psychotic killer who uses his old Dodge Charger as a weapon, takes a while to get going; but when it does, Death Proof is perfection on wheels – in particular an 18-minute chase scene that is pure, 100% old-school stunt action.

I enjoyed both films when they were released separately, but seeing them together – the way their makes intended – I'm happy to report that I love them to bits. Death Proof is easily the better film, but Planet Terror is more fun (particularly if you love zombies as much as I do). Add in a truckload of special features on the second disc (although missing here from the previous DVD releases are the extended cuts of both films, and Rodriguez’s cleaned up version of Planet Terror), and what we have here is as close to a perfect recreation of the grindhouse experience as we're ever going to get. The diehard fans are gonna love it.

EXTRAS ★★★★ Disc One, which contains the original theatrical cut of Grindhouse, also includes: Audience Reaction Track, which documents the screaming reaction to a screening of Planet Terror; audio commentaries for Planet Terror (with writer-director Rodriguez) and the Thanksgiving trailer (writer-director Eli Roth). Disc Two contains: 10 Minute Film School, a Rodriguez narrated featurette going into some detail about Planet Terror's special effects; The Badass Babes of Planet Terror; The Guys of Planet Terror; Casting Rebel; Sickos, Bullets and Explosions: The Stunts of Planet Terror; The Friend, the Doctor and the Real Estate Agent; Planet Terror poster gallery; Stunts on Wheels: The Legendary Drivers of Death Proof; Quentin's Greatest Collaborator: Editor Sally Menke; The Guys of Death Proof; Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike; Finding Quentin's Gals; Uncut 'Baby, It's You' by Mary Elizabeth Winstead; Introducing Zoë Bell; Double Dare Trailer; Death Proof poster gallery; Extended Movie Cues; Robert Rodriguez's 10 Minute Cooking School; The Makeup Effects of Planet Terror; The Hot Rods of Death Proof; From Texas to Tennessee: The Production Design of Death Proof;  Extended Werewolf Women of the SS trailer; The Making of Werewolf Women of the SS trailer; Extended Don't trailer (with optional commentary by Wright  The Making of Don't trailer; Don't Storyboard/Trailer Comparison (with optional commentary by Wright);  Don't Storyboards Still Gallery; Don't' Poster (with extended score excerpts by David Arnold); The making of Thanksgiving trailer; fake Hobo With A Shotgun trailer.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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