18 January 2008 | FilmFlaneur
Better than Tarantino's half...
Rodriguez's half of the original 'grindhouse' double bill , which consisted of his TERROR PLANET with Tarantino's DEATH PROOF. Likely audience reactions led to the two titles being separated and issued apart. As a homage to the drive-in tradition and genres beloved by Tarantino et al, the two films are resolutely exploitative, but PLANET is the most overtly tongue in cheek, and the most enjoyable, being a good old shoot 'em up Zombie flic. Unlike SIN CITY which was inspired by good source work which led to it being rather self consciously 'cool', PLANET tries hard to mimic bad work that, by definition of its admirers is *unconsciously* cool. This reviewer at least found the results less pretentious, the trash origins not being made more of than they ever were - the sexist treatment of women for instance less insidious.
The illusion of viewing much watched, much loved bad 70's junk cinema is extended even to the point of deliberately introducing blemishes to the film, also plot holes, as well as a whole 'missing reel' which interrupts the continuity, with suitable management apologies, half way through the action. Interestingly these artifacts on screen have a vivid presence, counterpointing key words and moments with an abstract, but deliberate commentary of colours, flares, clicks and splices that practically qualifies them as a 'character' in their own right. One especially relishes the colour balance slide to red as Tarantino (in a self-directed sequence playing a rapist) works his menace, or the apt film flare or burn outs during the erotic moments. Some great lines (e.g. Bruce Willis' opening words "Where's the sh*t?") and over the top gore add to a fun mix.
Perhaps the only miscalulation is the length of the film; most cheap exploitation flicks struggled to reach the 80 min mark, which meant their weaknesses did not always outstay their welcome. Clocking in at almost 2 hours, PLANET TERROR forgets eventually that more of the 'bad' to the Nth degree is not always to the best, revealing the self indulgence common to some of the later works of the Rodriguez-Tarantino school, but this is a minor quibble and fans won't mind. Whether or not those unfamiliar with the original inspiration will get the joke for that long is a different matter, although an audio track which includes live audience reaction makes things easier. The DVD comes complete with a splendid fake trailer for MACHETE, a supposed Mexploitation revenge drama - which incidentally IMDb seems to think is actually slated for production next year!