Genres: Action, Horror,
Runtime: 113 minutes
Review done by: Nightmare Child
Starring: Kurt Russell, Zoe Bell, Rosario Dawson, Rose McGowan, Vanessa
Ferlito, Jordan Lad
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Synopsis: Two separate sets of voluptuous women are stalked at different
times by a scarred stuntman who uses his "death proof" cars to execute his
Tough cars, a psycho killer, kick ass stunt babes and car chases running at
200 miles per hour? Count me the fuck in! We've already went through the
Grindhouse double feature as a whole and I spent a good amount of time
talking about the extended version of Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror. Now,
I'm about to take a look back at my favorite part of Grindhouse: Death Proof.
Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, Death Proof is yet another
homage to exploitation. This time around Tarantino is paying tribute to the
car chase films of the 70's. Many call this a slasher movie, and I can see why.
It is a slasher movie, just not your typical over the top slasher. We do
encounter a killer, but instead of using knives or chainsaws, he uses his
Dodge Charger and Chevy Nova. That's right, he uses his cars to kill his
victims. It's an interesting concept, and one that works very well with its long
build up and interesting (but enjoyable) dialog. The film has two acts which
consists of our main villain stalking his pray.
In Act I we follow a DJ named Jungle Julia and her two friends. The girls are
going out for a little fun before they head to the lake house on vacation.
They end up at a local bar where they plan to meet with a friend. While
waiting, the girls enjoy the night and hang out with a group of guys who
have plans of their own. Later at the bar the group encounters a guy named
Stunt Man Mike. A psychotic human being with a "death proof" stunt car that
likes to stalk pretty girls. Once the night is over, Jungle Julia and her friends
head to the lake house (without the guys) and get into a deadly auto
accident, leaving the girls flying out of the car with missing limbs. The only
survivor in the crash was Stunt Man Mike, who was able to live due to his
death proof automobile. It was a horrible crime, but one that didn't appear to
be. The officials dismissed it as an accident, and Stunt Man Mike goes free
after he is treated in a hospital.
In Act II, Stuntman Mike surfaces in Tennessee where he stalks another
group of girls. Only this time, the girls are not as easy as the others. I love
Quentin Tarantino's movies. He's an excellent film maker. Everything he does
seems like a labor of love, and his part of Grindhouse is exactly that. Death
Proof is very different from Planet Terror. It's more low key and doesn't
feature anything too over the top. It's a much more realistic approach to
exploitation. Like Tarantino's previous films, Death Proof features a great
amount of dialog. For critics and movie goers, that's often the biggest
criticism. I never saw it that way, in fact I didn't think that the dialog was a
problem at all. I'm young, but I have a thing for the old school. I'm not harsh
or simple minded when it comes to movies that drag or take long to get to
the point. If the build up is worth it, then I'll be pleased. Death Proof does a
great job in building up its audience. I don't mind build ups because they
actually make the experience so much better.
Take one of my favorite Asian flicks for example; Audition. The entire movie is
a build up to the last 15 minutes of horror. If you patiently watch the movie,
the last part will be one of the best experiences in your life. Death Proof is
almost the exact same thing. You'll sit through more than half an hour of
dialog and witness a giant car collision. Then you'll sit through more dialog,
and it'll lead up to one of the best car chases ever filmed. The build up is
long, but trust me if you can find the patience for it the ending will be worth
it. The 18-minute car chase scene at the end is worth every single second.
For me the build up was the best part. It made the last part of the movie
more exciting than it already was. Seeing this part of Grindhouse in the
theatre was the second most fun I've ever had in a movie theatre. By the
time the end credits rolled, everybody applauded and some even cheered.
Death Proof always seems to get the bigger reaction out of movie goers.
If you're not into heavy dialog then you might wanna stay clear from Death
Proof. Actually, you might wanna stay clear away from Tarantino's movies
period. Death Proof had a lot of negative feedback, mostly due to the
stretchy dialog and long (but profitable) build up. When compared to Planet
Terror many seem to enjoy that one more than this. I can see why, but let's
not forget about one little fact: PT and DP are not in the same category.
Planet Terror is an homage to 80's horror with buckets of blood, excessive
violence and funny characters. Death Proof is a throwback to the car chase
movies of the 70's. It relies on dialogue, introspection and character
interaction, which was Tarantino's trademark since Reservoir Dogs. As a
matter of a fact, Death Proof features a ton of Tarantino's trademark cuts.
The dialog, the references and the long takes are apart of Quentin's
technique and style. There are so many references to his other films it's not
You would have to be a total nerd to be able to get every single reference.
Amazingly, I have a knack for spotting these things. The colors of the cars,
the name calling, the brands, the signs at the bar, it's usually a reference to
something. Whether if it's Tarantino's movies or his taste in music. Speaking
of music, that plays a huge part in the movie as well. For almost the entire
first half we follow our lead characters in a bar; drinking and listening to some
groovy tunes. One things for sure: if it's a Tarantino flick, you know the
soundtrack is going to be good. The music in Death Proof is great. Most of
the music is played through the jukebox at the bar Jungle Julia and her
friends are at (which is actually Tarantino's personal collection of music). For
this two disc DVD set they threw in some neat bonus features as well as the
missing reel that wasn't in the theatrical cut. The missing reel contains the
"lap dance" scene that we've been dying to see. Not seeing it in the theatre
was pretty disappointing because they built it up for at least twenty minutes
only to throw in the "missing reel" card.
The lap dance scene is back in here, and it's really pleasing and definitely
worth the wait. If you thought that the theatrical cut of Death Proof dragged
big time, then I would advise you to stay away from this version, because it
drags on even more. So much of Death Proof ended up on the cutting room
floor. We get some small bits in act one and we get more scenes in act two
featuring Stunt Man Mike and the girls, and there's even one scene that fades
to black and white. The biggest disappointment however was the lack of
commentary. I wanted to watch the film with commentary by Tarantino, but
it's not here. The fake movie trailers are gone too. Perhaps they'll be in the
special edition re-release that we can expect in the near future. I mentioned
already that Death Proof was my favorite part of Grindhouse, but many
others disagree as they should. It's not for everyone, especially the young
and close minded who think that non-stop action is enough to make a movie
If you're going to complain about Death Proof, you'll might as well talk trash
about Pulp Fiction, but who could ever do that? Dialog doesn't bother me. I
find many horror films to be great mostly because of the character
interactions. Character studies are my favorite. It's the main reason why I
love George Romero's Dawn of the Dead. If the story and character
development is good, then I'll be pleased. I'm pretty fond of Tarantino's
writing. The scripts to his films always seem to make sense. The same goes
for Death Proof. The dialog does drag, but if you listen carefully and pay
attention to what everyone is saying, it'll pay off in the end. The dialog may
seem pointless, but trust me it pieces itself together and makes sense later.
It's very clever writing. After seeing this cut of the movie, I still believe it's the
superior half to Grindhouse, but hey that's just my opinion. I know for a fact
that others see it differently. It's all a matter of taste. If you liked Reservoir
Dogs and Pulp Fiction, then Death Proof is right up your ally.
Online since: February 20th, 2006