The second bit of the now infamous Grindhouse double bill is Robert Rodriguez’ Planet Terror. On the plus side, it’s been packaged for cinemas with one of the eagerly anticipated ‘lost’ trailer — Rodriguez’ own hilarious Machete. On the downside, it might be grisly hilarious but it ain’t Grindhouse: the deliberate flickers, scratches and lost reels rapidly become a very tired — and slightly half-arsed — gimmick indeed.
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). Er, that’s about it.
It’s all very entertaining and splattery — there’s a lot of creative gore on display — and Rodriguez can clearly direct tension: he also breaks it up with some (very funny) moments of humour. But to what purpose? The Gridnhouse pretension, his and Tarantino’s tribute to low-budget movies of the 60s and 70s, is a fun theme but Planet Terror is too knowing and OTT — Cherry’s machine-gun fake leg, for example — to serve its much-publicised purpose: it’s less affectionate and more affected. And I don’t care if he is your bestest mate in the whole wide world: there is no excuse to let Tarantino act .