It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Quentin Tarantino's "Death Proof" and Robert Rodriguez's "Planet Terror" play as if "Night of the Living Dead" (1967) and "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" were combined on a double bill under the parentage of the dark sperm of vengeance.
Together the two separate feature-length stories combine into "Grindhouse," a deliberate attempt by the two directors to re-create the experience of a double feature in a sleazy B-house. Scratches and blemishes mar the prints, frames or even whole reels are purportedly missing, and the characters have the shallow simplicity of action figures entirely at the disposal of special effects. They are separated by a group of four trailers for still more B-minus pictures.
This evocation of a grindhouse may have existed somewhere, sometime, but my movie-going reaches back to before either director was born, and I have never witnessed a double bill and supporting program much like the one they have created. No, not even in half-forgotten Chicago theaters like the McVickers, Roosevelt, Shangri-La, Monroe, Loop or Parkway. Not even while trying specifically to find "Dog of the Week" candidates for Spot the Wonder Dog to bark at. And it must be said that when it comes to fabricating bad movies, Rodriguez and Tarantino have a failure of will. To paraphrase Manny Farber, you can catch them trying to shove art up into the crevices of dreck.
I can imagine the pitch meeting at which the two directors told Harvey and Bob Weinstein why they had to make this double-header. In that room were the most skilled conversational motormouths I've met, and I mean that as a compliment. If Tarantino tells you about the last time he ate an Italian beef sandwich, you want to film it in 70mm. But let's face it. The fundamental reason young males went to schlock double features in the golden age was in the hope of seeing breasts, or, lacking that, stuff blowed up real good. Now that the mainstream is showing lots of breasts and real big explosions, there is no longer a market for bad movies showing the same thing.