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  Planet Terror She Shoots, She Scores
Year: 2007
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Stars: Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodríguez, Josh Brolin, Marley Shelton, Jeff Fahey, Michael Biehn, Rebel Rodriguez, Bruce Willis, Naveen Andrews, Julio Oscar Mechoso, Stacy Ferguson, Nicky Katt, Hung Nguyen, Michael Parks, Tom Savini, Quentin Tarantino
Genre: Horror, Action, Trash, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 2 votes)
Review: Cherry (Rose McGowan) is a go-go dancer who once wished to be a doctor, but now wishes she were a standup comedian. But not a go-go dancer, so when her boss gives her stick for crying during her act it's the final straw and she walks out, taking care to collect her wages before she does so. As she makes her way along the roadside, she is startled by the sound of heavy vehicles rumbling towards her and is sent flying into the gutter when they rush past. As they go by, she catches sight of a man staring out of a passenger window at her - he is a scientist named Abby (Naveen Andrews), and he is about to unleash all hell...

You must know the story by now. Director, writer and producer Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror was the first half of the Grindhouse double bill, the other half being Death Proof from Quentin Tarantino. However, on release in North America Grindhouse flopped, leading the Weinsteins who commissioned the project to split them in half, ditch the pretend trailers that were placed in between the two as an intermission, and release them separately elsewhere in the world. Planet Terror got to keep its opening trailer, a sleazy item for a thriller named Machete (which showed up later in its own right), but that was it.

As the Grindhouse experience was designed to pay tribute to a certain cinematic genre from the seventies, the kind of film that does not get digitally remastered, the reasoning went that the films themselves should look as if the print had been found in the garbage, and so it is that here the production is enhanced with scratches, dust, and general wear and tear. In an age where pristine quality in your moviewatching is of utmost importance, it was amusing that Rodriguez stuck to this notion so faithfully, and there was even a missing reel which advances the action to such an extent that it makes you wish other films took this snappier option.

And yet, for a film that is supposed to be throwaway fun to be compared with product that was rarely taken seriously in the first place, there's a definite laboriousness about Planet Terror. There is humour there, but it's so heavy handed in its straight faced nature that it's simply not worth laughing along with. Considering this is a seventies tribute, there's something very eighties about its plotting and effects work, being as it is your basic splattery zombie rampage. Abby is the man who lets loose a gas that mutates people into the flesh-eating undead, and Cherry is the woman who finds herself in the middle of it, losing a leg in the process but not her resourcefulness.

Although Cherry does seem to get pushed around by the narrative quirks until she is able to stand on her own two feet - er, well, one foot and a machine gun, anyway - and turn into the action heroine that the film really needs, and that happens about twenty minutes before the end. Despite that eighties feel, there is a genre of the previous decade that Planet Terror resembles, and that's the disaster movie. Meaning, there's a very long set up to introduce the stars (although here they're closer to B movie talent rather than the A-listers of yesteryear) and their relationships, then lands them in seemingly inescapable jeopardy. Filling out the cast are such capable performers as Freddy Rodríguez as an old flame of Cherry's and Josh Brolin and Marley Shelton as a married couple who would be headed for murder even without the zombie threat. So it's better than Death Proof in its delirium, but the concept is overplayed to a numbing degree; the ending is bizarrely sweetnatured as well.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Robert Rodriguez  (1968 - )

Hip, hard-working American film maker, a former cartoonist, who directs, produces, writes and edits most of his movies. El Mariachi worked wonders on a tiny budget, and since then he's made Desperado, the only good segment of Four Rooms, gangster/vampire horror From Dusk Till Dawn, teen sci-fi The Faculty, kiddie adventure quartet Spy Kids, Spy Kids 2, Spy Kids 3-D and Spy Kids 4-D, semi-sequel Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Frank Miller adaptation Sin City (which gained a sequel nine years later). He next teamed up with Quentin Tarantino for double feature Grindhouse, and although it flopped it did spur him to beef up the fake trailer Machete, featuring the Danny Trejo character from the Spy Kids movies, a sequel Machete Kills following soon after. James Cameron gave him Alita: Battle Angel to play with, but the results muffled his flair.

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