, 06 Nov 2007
When a gas that turns the living into zombie like creatures escapes into the general population a small band of immune survivors must fight to stay alive long enough to try to find a cure.
I always was looking forward to Robert Rodriguez' half of Grindhouse more than Quentin Tarantino's and though Death Proof surprised me by being a pretty fun ride it's seriously dull by comparison to Planet Terror.
While Death Proof had forty good minutes of chatter before the first real action scene Planet Terror cuts right to the chase; after a seriously sexy dance by Rose McGowan under the opening credits things get seriously bloody even in what, in any other movie, would be a purely expository scene. Robert Rodriguez has completely embraced the over the top feel of Grindhouse cinema and has crafted a non-stop action all the way rollercoaster that grabs you by the balls from the word go and refuses to loosen its grip.
This is a silly film, but the film knows as much, and revels in it but what could have pushed it too far into parody is the cast, fortunately they all get the tone just right. Okay so nobody is pushing for reality here but they are playing it straight, theres no winking at the camera and as a result you are able to just go along for the ride rather than being lifted out of it and reminded that, hey, its just a silly movie.
Its tough to pick a stand out among the cast as everyone is so well placed in their roles. Josh Brolin has a nicely sardonic line of psychosis as Dr Block, even before hes a zombie and Marley Shelton is just adorable as Dakota. There are good parts for genre vets Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey and Tom Savini and good cameo work by Tarantino and Bruce Willis. At the centre of the film though are Freddy Rodriguez and Rose McGowan as El Ray and Cherry. Rodriguez, despite his small stature, makes for a pretty convincing action hero and the sequence where he rescues McGowan from a hospital full of zombies is one of the most entertaining in a joyously entertaining movie. But its Cherry Darling wholl be the iconic image to come out of this movie, and rightly so, how much cooler can it ever get than Rose McGowan, with a machine gun for a leg, taking out dozens of zombies?
Rodriguez pushes the boat out visually. The film is wildly over the top, allowing him to let rip with effects gags that would just be too ludicrous anywhere else and drench the screen in blood. He also uses the artifical scratching and aging of the film better than Tarantino did; there it felt like someone had scratched up a new movie, here it doesn't and the technique is used much more consistently throughout.
If Planet Terror just sounds stupid as far as you are concerned then chances are thats exactly what youll find here; a stupid zombie movie. If, however, you are a genre fan; if you love Re-Animator, or The Beyond or any number of schlocky 70s and 80s horror movies then youll be in heaven with Planet Terror. Its endlessly fun, more so than any other film yet released this year.
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