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DVD Zone: November 2007

| October 31, 2007 | 0 Comments

Grindhouse Presents: Planet Terror
Grindhouse Presents: Death Proof
Dimension

grindhouse

B-movies have been around practically as long as the film industry itself. Originally, the studios would knock off a feature with second-tier actors to toss on the bill at drive-in theaters, often using the same sets as other films to keep the budget to a minimum.

As the years went on and independent filmmakers got into the act more and more, these low-budget (and mostly exploitative) flicks would make the rounds. With only a few original prints to circulate, the prints themselves would become damaged and in disrepair. Hence the term “Grindhouse” films. While some directors like Russ Meyer and Herschell Gordon Lewis would make careers of churning out Grindhouse flicks, others, such as Wes Craven and Tobi Hooper, would go on to have successful studio careers.

It is the nostalgia for these shlock gems that inspired directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez to create Grindhouse, with both directors taking a stab at recreating the look and feel of an original side-street theater double feature. Although the film’s theatrical release was flawed by packaging both full-length films into one three-hour-plus sitting, Dimension does the right thing by releasing them separately.

Rodriguez’s effort, Planet Terror, is the more successful of the two in pulling off the look, feel, and tone of its progenitor. It’s a zombie-on-the-loose tale, thanks to a botched military deal that releases a toxic gas, turning the unwitting populace into the flesh-hungry undead.

Rose McGowan stars as stripper Cherry Darling who loses a leg to the ravenous horde, eventually to find the severed limb makes a handy place to attach a machine gun when it comes time to kick a little zombie ass.

That’s the beauty of a Grindhouse flick: They can be summed up in one or two sentences.

Planet Terror‘s two-disc set contains commentary by Rodriguez, an audience reaction track, and features on the women, men, and stunts of the film.

Tarantino’s effort, Death Proof, features Kurt Russell as a psycho who kills his victims with his souped-up Dodge Challenger. The problem with Death Proof is the same problem that has popped up in every Tarantino film since Pulp Fiction. While he definitely writes good dialogue, Tarantino too often falls in love with it, with the characters talking about what’s going on around them instead of being involved in the action. And with 30 minutes added to the film for the DVD release, most of which is more dialogue, more stalk, less talk would have tightened things up a bit.

The two-disc DVD provides features on the women of the film, the stunts, and the editing. While there is no commentary track from Tarantino, he makes up for it by being in all the feature segments.

Planet Terror: ***1/2 Features ***

Death Proof: *** Features ***1/2

Bob Mould: Circle Of Friends
MVD Visual

Although his work with Hüsker Dü influenced artists such as Nirvana and Green Day, Bob Mould never achieved the sort of mainstream success as his followers. After his solo albums didn’t reach the kind of mass audience every artist hopes for, Mould wandered into the world of pro wrestling to write scripts. I know, you’re as surprised as I am to find out that wrestling is scripted, but there it is.

Getting back to the music world, Mould assembled a crack band of Brendan Canty, Jason Narducy, and Richard Morel to record Body Of Song. It is from the ensuing tour that Circle Of Friends is drawn.

Filmed at Washington D.C.’s 9:30 Club, Friends is Mould’s first official concert DVD. With the same band from Song in tow, Mould runs through the solo material, along with nuggets from the Hüsker song book as well as his other three-piece Sugar.

It’s a crisp set that’s well filmed and has good sound, which is all you can ask from a concert film. There is also an interview segment with Mould and the band, and rehearsal footage.

Film: *** Features **1/2

— Timothy Hiatt

Category: Columns, Monthly

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