Written and Directed
by Robert Rodriguez
Running Time: 1:40
for strong graphic bloody violence and gore,
pervasive language, some sexuality,
nudity and drug use.
Planet Terror was everything a Grindhouse film should be: an out-there story filled with girls, guns and medically infected zombies.
In an attempt to create the world's greatest weapon, a cloud has been unleashed over an army base turning everyone it hits into people-eating zombies. Cherry Darling is trying to end her life as a go-go dancer and become a stand-up comedian. She runs into an old flame named El Wray, who has police troubles to deal with. Meanwhile married doctors Dakota and William have to deal with Dakota's infidelity and William's psychotic behavior. Together this group of misfits, along with many others, have to try and hold down the zombie uprising until the can find a cure... or escape.
I was a little disappointed with Death Proof so I didn't have a lot of hope for Planet Terror, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was what I always imagined a Grindhouse movie to be. There were naked women, lots of explosions and flesh-eating zombies. Oh, and a girl with a gun for a leg. I mean really, what more could you ask for from a movie? First off, the look and feel of the movie stayed consistent throughout. In Death Proof the movie looked old and scratchy when it started, but miraculously turned nice and clean in the second half. Planet Terror was dirty and grimy the entire time. As were the cast members. The only one that had a semblance of cleanliness was Fergie in her extended cameo appearance. Everyone looked like they had been wrung through the grinder a few times. It turned these misfits into an unlikely group of survivors. Everyone mostly looked out for themselves until the chips were down.
The story was as far-fetched as you might imagine, with a massive green cloud infecting almost everyone and turning them into flesh-eating zombies. What this leads to is the ability to squish, squash, maim and murder hundreds of people during a film. It makes for a fantastic visual thrill because there are literally hundreds of ways to kill someone and writer-director Robert Rodriguez uses a lot of them. The movie was just about having fun. Death Proof spent too much time having people sit around talking and trying to be witty and entertaining. Planet Terror took the other tact and decided just to go all out with action and see how many zombies they could fit into a two-hour film. I can now understand the stories about people watching Planet Terror and the fake trailers, then leaving halfway through Death Proof. There's really no comparison between the two films. This movie definitively puts Robert Rodriguez into my pantheon of favorite directors. I don't think there's anything of his I wouldn't watch.
This is really where Planet Terror set itself apart from Death Proof. Some of the extras were the same, like learning about the guys and girls from the film, and generally everyone saying how much they loved working with each other. But there was one major extra that Robert Rodriguez puts on all his DVDs that makes them worth the purchase price. He always has a 10-minute film school documentary that gives you details on how certain things were done. It's fascinating coming from him mostly because he does almost everything on his own films. Not only does he write and direct, he'll be the director of photography, editor and composer. So when he speaks, it's a good idea to listen. And if you listen carefully, he'll drop a hint about an upcoming Grindhouse double feature DVD that will hopefully have a lot more extras, including all the fake theatrical trailers. We see one here (Machete) but that's not enough!
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I loved Planet Terror. It is definitely the better half of the Grindhouse films in every way, shape and form.
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