Most helpful positive review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Stylish Grindhouse Tribute to 70s Horror Flicks
on 2 September 2015
This movie was released as a double bill feature with Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof (which I review elsewhere). Of the two films, this is far more enjoyable. This is a tribute to the 70's grindhouse and horror genres, and although it is not an unqualified success, it is engrossing and entertaining. A mysterious green gas, which is stored on a military base, is released into the air and turns a group of soldiers into quasi-zombie creatures with dissolving skin. Cherry is a pole dancer at a strip club in a nearby town. She gets involved in a road crash and the zombies drag her from her vehicle, dismembering one of her legs. An ex-boyfriend saves her and she is taken to the local hospital, where other victims of the monsters are being treated. Josh Brolin plays a doctor treating the sudden inflow of patients, whilst Michael Biehn is a gunslinging sheriff who takes down some of the army of the dead. A group of locals hold out from the ensuing zombie onslaught at a restaurant, and then flee en masse, on motorbikes and in an armoured vehicle. The piece de resistance is when Cherry's missing leg is substituted with a heavy machine gun, and she goes on a glorious rampage against the hordes of living dead. The film is very stylishly shot, with exceptional use of colour and tricksy editing, but it's weakness is that its a bit of a mishmash. Its not funny in the style of, say, Shaun of The Dead, it's not nerve-shredding scary like, for instance, Romero's Day of The Dead, and it's devoid of the sort of gratuitous female nudity, which it really needed to strike a hit on its obvious grindhouse target. It's basically a fusion of different genres, and this very nearly makes it less than the sum of its parts. However, paradoxically, it's highly watchable, and not just because it's so stylish, but because it tries to be different and to a certain extent it succeeds. I'm not sure that it merited an 18 certificate, the scenes of horror are largely too comedic to be disturbing, there are no sex scenes, and profanity is used sparingly. I'm a bit surprised it wasn't a 15 certificate. All in all, a very diverting way to pass a couple of hours.
Question Tarantino made Pulp Fiction, an effortlessly cool movie. Ever since then, I think he's been trying to make another super cool film, but not really succeeding. This movie is a good example of that. A gang of 4 badass girls are out on the town, drinking and partying, talking about men, indeed the first half hour of the movie is like a gritty version of Sex and The City. Kurt Russell, who is a brilliant and charismatic actor, easily capable of carrying a movie by himself, plays a psychopathic stuntman, named Stuntman Mike, who stalks sexy young women in his big black American muscle car. The film livens up as soon as Mike starts to feature. He watches the gang of 4 girls in a bar, and gets into a conversation with them, flirting with and teasing them. This all progresses very languorously and stylishly, but I couldn't help feeling that Tarantino was just trying far too hard to make the film cool, and instead it simply drags it's heels for the first 45 minutes or so. However, it then speeds up dramatically, when Mike takes a very sexy young blonde lady for a ride in his muscle car, and kills her using his "death proof" vehicle. Soon after that Mike drives his car into a head on collision with the 4 girls, a sequence which is shot with trademark Tarantino bravissimo. I won't say what happens next, but the film then shoots forwards 14 months, and temporarily goes black and white (remember what I said about Tarantino trying too hard to make his movies cool). Mike is still on the prowl for female victims. Another group of 4 girls are cruising about town, chewing the fat about their relationships with men. They go for a joyride in a white Dodge Charger and cross paths with Stuntman Mike. What follows then is the closing 20 minutes, when you get to see a truly stunning car chase sequence, with some of the best stunts I've seen since the closing half hour chase sequence in Mad Max II. If I'm honest, this is a three star film, but I've given it an extra star because of Kurt Russell's performance and the amazing car chase at the end. It's just a shame that the movie sags whenever Russell is off screen, he only features for about half an hour in total, and when he appears he steals every scene.
Thank you very much for reading this review.