Double Bill #02: Grindhouse (Planet Terror & Death Proof)

This was the first time I saw the Rodriguez / Tarantino double feature as it was originally intended: back to back and with fake trailers in between. Originally, I saw the films separately when they came out in 2007 in an open air cinema on Crete. This was a special experience in itself and I really liked the movies. So what is the real authentic Grindhouse experience like? Well, what do you think? It kicks complete ass! It starts with the Machete trailer, which is so good they decided to actually make the movie. Then the first feature Planet Terror opens with that pole dancing sequence, the sexiest ever committed to celluloid. Rose McGowan is amazing as Cherry Darling, a go-go dancer who’ll soon have a machine gun for a leg. Rodriguez’ his contribution is a bat shit crazy gory virus zombie splatterpiece, while the Tarantino film that follows is… well a masterful genre film (in this case a carsploitation-horror), like only the maestro knows how to make them. What’s beautiful is that the films actually go together like burgers and fries. Tarantino-Rodriguez is a unique partnership in the history of filmmaking and this is a once-in-a-lifetime project. The two films have a lot in common. Apart from the shared cast members, they feature lots of lethal ladies; girls who kick ass, though they also suffer a lot. The guys in the movies are mostly psychos. And one of them is unforgettable: Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike McKay. Another Tarantino-character made for the cinema wax museum. The Grindhouse versions of the films are cut a little shorter than the films released separately. Death Proof now also has a missing reel. Not coincidentally, it is the lap dance scene that is missing (Tarantino and Rodriquez are suggesting that a horny projectionist stole the reels, in Planet Terror a sex scene between Cherry and Wray is missing). Also, included in all gory glory are the fake movie trailers: Rob Zombie’s Werewolf Women of the SS, Edgar Wright’s Thanksgiving and Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving. O man, cult cinema just doesn’t come any better than this.

Cult Radar: Part 9

FilmDungeon is glad to explore the video trenches to find that oddball treasure between the piles of crap out there. Of Course, a treasure in this context can also be a film that’s so shockingly bad it’s worth a look, or something so bizarre that cult fans just have to see it. Join us on our quest and learn what we learn. Hopefully we’ll uncover some well-hidden cult gems.

Researched by: Jeppe Kleijngeld

Tormented (UK, 2009)

Directed by: Jon Wright
Written by: Stephen Prentice
Cast: Alex Pettyfer, April Pearson, Dimitri Leonidas

Fat schoolboy Darren got bullied to the point where he committed suicide. Tormented opens at his funeral. Not only do Darren’s tormentors don’t have any regrets whatsoever, they even throw a party to celebrate his demise. That’s just too much… Soon after, each member of the group of bullies starts receiving text messages from the dead Darren. They first think that someone is playing a prank on them, but as soon as the first body drops, they know they’re totally screwed. Tormented is a very effective horror flick that is both funny and inventively satisfying. Whether you thought high school was fun or not, this will keep you entertained for an hour and a half easily. Reviewer Kim Newman, who runs a Dungeon over at Empire Magazine gave it four stars also. It’s a recommendation.

Nude Nuns with Big Guns (USA, 2010)

Directed by: Joseph Guzman
Written by: Joseph Guzman, Robert James Hayes II
Cast: Asun Ortega, David Castro, Perry D’Marco

Violence, drugs, guns, boobs and off course lesbian sex. Nude Nuns With Big Guns is an immoral cocktail delivered by Freak Show Entertainment, the team behind the similar Run Bitch Run!. An abused nun has a vision from God. She is told to slay all sinners that are somehow connected to an elaborate heroin network, led by a money hungry padre who uses naked nuns as personnel. Sister Sarah is not supposed to show any mercy and she doesn’t! Is this entertaining? It kind of is in the sense that it is well shot and cut. Your eventual appreciation of Nude Nuns With Big Guns will depend mostly on your tolerance for graphic sex and violence featuring nuns. If this is low, you can easily deduct a star from this rating.

Hobo with a Shotgun (Canada, 2011)

Directed by: Jason Eisener
Written by: John Davies, Jason Eisener, Rob Cotterill
Cast: Rutger Hauer, Molly Dunsworth, Gregory Smith, Brian Downey

The awesome film poster promises an exploitation film pur sang and delivers. Hobo With a Shotgun was originally a fake trailer that won a Grindhouse competition organized by Robert Rodriguez. The story is about a homeless guy (Rutger Hauer) that takes on psychopathic scum in a city riddled with crime and depravity. Since it was made on a modest budget and has no Hollywood stars in its cast, it is more convincing than Tarantino’s and Rodriquez’ own Grindhouse pictures Death Proof and Planet Terror. The cheap violence gives you the real sense of watching a cult flick from the seventies. However, the sadistic violence is so excessive and beastly that it is hard to care about the characters at all, even the protagonists. The build-up is also not entirely effective; Hauer changes into a bloodthirsty vigilante in minutes, taking away some of the pleasure when he settles the score. Still, the underlying message about the human condition is well delivered and the exploitation feel is sublime; you can almost hear the exciting screams in the grindhouse theater. This hobo is certainly worth spending some loose change on.

Orcs! (USA, 2011)

Directed by: Andrew Black, James MacPherson
Written by: Anne K. Black, Jason Faller, Kynan Griffin and Justin Partridge
Cast: Adam Johnson, Renny Grames, Maclain Nelson

‘It’s an orc! No, it’s not. There is no such thing.’ A movie in which orcs show up in modern times sounds pretty horrendous. While certainly no masterpiece, Orcs! manages to entertain during its first half, which is basically a comedy about two idiot park rangers. Some jokes and The Lord of the Rings references are pretty funny. The second half is one long and tiresome battle against the orcs. This is the boring part. The costumes and special effects are laughable. All in all, don’t watch Orcs!. Just don’t!

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (USA, 1988)

Directed by: Stephen Chiodo
Written by: Charles Chiodo, Edward Chiodo, Stephen Chiodo
Cast: Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelson

From the special effects team behind Critters and Team America: World Police comes an original eighties classic. On a Friday night in Cove Crescent, a couple of youngsters witness a shooting star land nearby. At the place of impact, a circus tent appears, but what’s inside aint no funhouse… The acting in Killer Klowns From Outer Space may not be world class, but the production design is very well done and reason enough to check this out. It certainly beats cotton candy.

En de award voor coolste filmposter ever gaat naar…

‘Hobo with a Shotgun’

Zoals het de poster van de betere exploitation film betaamt is de poster van ‘Hobo with a Shotgun’ een getekende poster die de sfeer van de film perfect in één beeld visualiseert. De held van de film is uiteraard het grootste afgebeeld. In het geval van ‘Hobo’ is dat Rutger Hauer die het titelpersonage speelt. Hij heeft een echte zwerverslook met een schitterende nasty gezichtsuitdrukking. Om de hoofdpersoon heen zijn alle belangrijke scènes en personages uit de film te zien. Ik kreeg echt direct zin om de film te gaan bekijken, iets wat alleen de beste posters voor elkaar krijgen. De titel, logo en tagline zijn ook nog eens te gek. Kortom, een dikke tien.

Behalve de vette poster is de film zelf ook behoorlijk geslaagd. Hij begint met een naamloze zwerver die met een goederentrein arriveert in een naamloze stad. Een beetje zoals Clint Eastwood in de westerns over the man with no name. Door de mooie georchestreerde muziek krijg je helemaal het gevoel naar een film uit de jaren zeventig te zitten kijken.

De stad waar de hobo arriveert, is een smerige plek waar sadistische psychopaten de dienst uitmaken. Tussen de vele hobo’s worden bumfights georganiseerd en gefilmd, vrouwen worden gebruikt als lust- en martelobjecten en de politie wordt betaald door de leider van al het tuig, de über sicko Drake. Hauer’s dakloze heeft door een paar slechte ervaringen al snel genoeg van alle smeerlappen en besluit aan het moorden te slaan. Gewapend met een shotgun richt hij een bloedbad aan onder het tuig. In zijn missie wordt hij bijgestaan door prostituee Abby.

‘Hobo with a Shotgun’ was oorspronkelijk een namaaktrailer die deelnam aan een fake trailer competitie georganiseerd om de première van ‘Grindhouse’ te promoten, het grootse exploitation project van Quentin Tarantino en Robert Rodriquez. De trailer won de competitie en werd in sommige Canadese bioscopen vertoond als onderdeel van ‘Grindhouse’. Het is de tweede aan ‘Grindhouse’ verbonden trailer die het tot een speelfilm schopt. De andere is ‘Machete’ van Robert Rodriguez zelf.

Omdat de film met een relatief bescheiden budget is gemaakt en geen grote Hollywood sterren in de cast heeft, is het een overtuigendere exploitation film dan de ‘Grindhouse’ films van Rodriguez en Tarantino zelf. Het excessieve geweld en sadisme maakt wel dat het moeilijk is om veel te geven om de personages, inclusief de protagonist. Ook is de opbouw niet helemaal geslaagd; Hauer verandert in een paar minuten in een massamoordenaar, wat ook de genoegdoening wat teniet doet. Maar de boodschap over de human condition is toch overtuigend neergezet. Ook is het exploitation gehalte optimaal; je kunt je het geschreeuw en gejuich bij de vele bloederige scenes in het theater levendig voorstellen. Deze hobo is het zeker waard om wat kleingeld aan uit te geven.

Cult Radar: Part 2 is glad to explore the video trenches to find that oddball treasure between the piles of crap out there. Of Course, a treasure in this context can also be a film that’s so shockingly bad it’s worth a look, or something so bizarre that cult fans just have to see it. Join us on our quest and learn what we learn. Hopefully we’ll uncover some well-hidden cult gems.

Researched by: Jeppe Kleijngeld

Policewomen (USA, 1974)

Directed by: Lee Frost
Written by: Wes Bishop, Lee Frost
Cast: Sondra Currie, Tony Young, Phil Hoover

A foxy police woman called Lacy Bond takes on the dangerous task of infiltrating a criminal gang of females. Luckily she is good with weapons and martial arts, so ass-kicking the baddies forms little problem for Lacy. This film was released on a ‘Welcome to the Grindhouse’ double DVD with Las Vegas Lady. This is apparently the better half. Though no masterpiece it at least has a pleasant rhythm and some camp value. At moments the dialogues and karate scenes get a bit too silly, but most of the time these ‘problems’ are easily ignored. Sondra Currie is also a very charming presence.

Las Vegas Lady (USA, 1975)


Directed by: Noel Nosseck
Written by: Walter Dallenbach
Cast: Stella Stevens, Stuart Whitman, George DiCenzo

Las Vegas in the seventies must have been more fun than this boring TV-movie makes it look. The plot revolves around three ladies who want to steal half a million dollars from a criminal casino owner. Or something. The unfocused plot and stretched dialogues make it nearly impossible to get into this movie. Stella Stevens and the other dames are visual assets, but censorship robbed this film of any sex that might have been originally inserted. The action that could be expected during the climax is also missing. Jeppe says: not worth wasting your time on.

Cannibal ferox (Italy, 1981)

Directed by: Umberto Lenzi
Written by: Umberto Lenzi
Cast: Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Lorraine De Selle, Danilo Mattei

An anthropology student and two companions travel to Mañyoca, a small village located in the Amazon jungle of Paraguay. She is writing a thesis on the myth of cannibalism and is searching for evidence to support her cause. A maniacal New York drug dealer is also in the area committing cruelties to a local Indian tribe who in their turn want revenge on the intruders. Your ‘enjoyment’ of this film depends on your tolerance for graphic torture of both humans and animals. If you can stand it, this is a pretty well-paced and in a strange way ‘entertaining’ viewing. However many will justifiably wonder what the significance is of showing (and watching) such horrors and very few won’t feel slightly depressed afterwards. The most memorable gruesome act? Hard to say, but I’ll go for the hooks in Fiamma Maglione’s breasts.

The Magnificent Trio (Hong Kong, 1966)
OT: Bian cheng san xia

Directed by: Chang Cheh
Written by: Chang Cheh
Cast: Chin Ping, Margaret Tu Chuan, Fanny Fan

Farmers kidnap the daughter of a corrupt magistrate in order to make him lose his grip on them. They are protected by the mighty warrior Master Lu, who later teams up with the equally powerful Huang and Yan Ziquin, forming a magnificent trio against the army of the magistrate. In 1966, the martial art genre was still undeveloped at the Shaw Brother Studios. In it’s time The Magnificent Trio must have been an exciting feature. By today’s standards however, it barely contains enough action and spectacle to please the genre enthusiasts. On the other hand, those interested in the development of this movie niche will probably find some value here, as well as beautiful art-direction and a finale worthy of director Chang Cheh’s reputation.

Frogs (USA, 1972)

Directed by: George McCowan
Written by: Robert Hutchison, Robert Blees
Cast: Ray Milland, Sam Elliot, Joan Van Ark

A production by Samuel Z. Arkoff, who has produced over a hundred similar campy movies. Some are better than others. This dull film unfortunately belongs among his weaker productions. Millionaire Jason Crocket (Milland) hosts a family party at his Southern estate. Nature photographer Picket Smith (a young Sam Elliot) arrives and soon finds out that nature-hater Crocket has abused the area with pesticides and poisons. The many frogs and other creatures from the local ecosystem start taking revenge on Crocket and his family leading to a number of strange and painful deaths. The movie’s uneventful first hour could have been forgiven if the second half would have offered some satisfying pay-off. This never happens. The characters remain caricatures and their uncreative deaths therefore leave the viewer cold as ice. A shame, but what can you expect from a film that carries this title?