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.
Dungeon Classics #20: From Dusk Till Dawn
FilmDungeon’s Chief Editor JK sorts through the Dungeon’s DVD-collection to look for old cult favorites….
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996, USA | Mexico)
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Cast: George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Juliette Lewis, Harvey Keitel
Running Time: 108 mins.
The early nineties saw the rise of filmmakers and friends Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriquez (they both debuted in 1992). They collaborated a number of times, but From Dusk Till Dawn is probably the greatest success in terms of cult appeal. Tarantino wrote the script and plays one of the lead roles and Rodriquez directed and edited the movie. The result is a cult classic. The first half is like watching a Tarantino neo-western crime movie. The dialogue is pure Tarantino and thus essential stuff for the cinema obsessive. The cast is excellent with Clooney in a formidable lead role as ruthless criminal Seth Gecko. The dynamic with his crazy, rapist brother Richard (played by Tarantino) ensures many extremely funny moments. During the second half, From Dusk Till Dawn surprisingly turns into a horror movie. A vampire flick to be more precise. It surely is thrilling, though not as good as the terrific first half. But some great supporting parts (by a.o. Fred Williamson and Tom Savini) add to the bloody fun.
Director: David Cronenberg
Written by: David Cronenberg
Cast: Stephen Lack, Jennifer O’Neill, Patrick McGoohan, Michael Ironside
Year / Country: 1981, Canada
Running Time: 103 mins.
Master of body horror David Cronenberg, moves into the mental domain with this masterful movie. Scanners are telepathic humans who pick up every thought in their surroundings and can ‘scan’ other people.
The drifter Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack) is a scanner who isn’t aware of his condition. He is a victim of it. But under the guidance of scientist Dr. Paul Ruth (Patrick McGoohan) – head of the scanner programme of security company ConSec – he learns to use his gift.
ConSec, like the United States army has done, uses these ‘telepathic curiosities’ to gather information on potential enemies. It goes wrong however, when the psychopathic super-scanner Darryl Revok (a superb Michael Ironside) starts an underground movement of scanners. And they murder anybody who won’t join them on their mission to conquer the world…
Ruth enlists the yet unaffiliated Vale to help him stop the telepathic maniac Revok. Together with Kim Obrist (Jennifer O’Neill), ‘good’ scanner Vale meets on his journey, he goes after Revok and a clash of powerful minds ensues.
Scanners shows once again why Cronenberg is one of the most skillful directors working in this genre. The way he is able to convey a sense of unease and danger with little means is remarkable. And Scanners – which allegedly had a troublesome production history – belongs to his finest works. With brilliant sound design and an extremely memorable ending.
Biography: David Cronenberg (1943, Toronto), also known as the King of Venereal Horror or the Baron of Blood, grew up in Toronto. His father was a journalist and his mother a piano player. Cronenberg graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in literature after switching from the science department. He then turned to filmmaking and reached a cult status with a few early horror features including Shivers and Rabid. He rapidly became a very popular genre filmmaker and eventually a true auteur, making profound statements on modern humanity and ever-changing society.
Filmography (a selection): Transfer (1966, short) / Stereo (1969) / Shivers (1975) / Rabid (1977) / Fast Company (1979) / The Brood (1979) / Scanners (1981) / The Dead Zone (1983) / The Fly (1986) / Dead Ringers (1988) / Naked Lunch (1991) / Crash (1996) / eXistenZ (1999) / Spider (2002) / A History of Violence (2005) / Eastern Promises (2007) / A Dangerous Method (2011) / Cosmopolis (2012), Crimes of the Future (2022)
The Verdict: Fear Street Trilogy
The Fear Street Trilogy (consisting of Fear Street: 1994, Fear Street: 1978 and Fear Street: 1666) is Netflix’s most surprising release so far this summer. It revives a genre that has been dead for a while now: the slasher. The first scene, in which a girl is stalked in a shopping mall by a skull-face masked killer, reminds of Scream. But soon it diverges from this genre classic by going supernatural. You see, the town of Shadyside is cursed by the witch Sarah Frier, who was hanged in 1666, and is therefore now plagued by possessed killers who go on murder sprees. The bordering town of Sunnyside, on the other hand, is perfectly peaceful.
In the first part, teenage girls Deena and Sam, who are having a sexual affair to please the male audience, have to survive the next rampage and find a way to end the curse. In the second movie, a killing spree occurs during a summer camp in 1978 (yes, very much like the first Friday the 13th). In the third and final film, we first learn the history of Shadyside and Sunnyside through a transcendent experience by Deena. And then, after a major plot twist, it is up to her and her friends to end the terror once and for all. While the first part gets the lowest rating on IMDb, I liked it best, because it has the most old fashioned horror moments. But the whole trilogy, successfully directed by relative newcomer Leigh Janiak, is entertaining throughout. With genuine scares, excellent casting and plenty of brutal kills. This is how you do a slasher.
The Fear Street Trilogy is now available on Netflix
The verdict: to stream or not to stream? To stream.