Want to know who to blame for Grindhouse getting sawn in half? Go speak to Joe Public in the US. When the exploitation meta-movie debuted disappointingly Stateside, Miramax studio beard Harvey Weinstein claimed punters didn’t get the oh-so-sophisticated double-feature concept: they headed for the exit sign as credits rolled on Robert Rodriguez’s entrée. Stupid Yanks, right? Maybe not... It’s just possible that your average Joe was so utterly sated and/or grossed out by Planet Terror’s cheesy sleaze that they just didn’t have the stomach for a second helping of grind.
“This movie has everything!” claims Rodriguez in his yak-track on the two-disc DVD. No kidding, it’s an A-Z of exploitation: go-go-dancers, lesbians, shotguns, Tom Savini and pus-dripping zombies. Throw in sultry Rose McGowan as heroine Cherry with her now-iconic machine-gun prosthesis and you’ve got a balls-to-the-wall (or balls in a jar) zombie flick. All that’s missing are a few Nazis.
Planet Terror’s DVD release matches the main feature’s mindless mayhem. Highlights include Rodriguez’s bonkers Venezuelan nieces ’fessing up about their psychotic attitude towards weapons safety (“Jeff Fahey sat us down and said, ‘Listen to me! You can kill somebody with that thing!’”) and pre-CGI footage of McGowan hobbling around in a giant sock while puppeteers in green ninja suits control a latex zombie. Discussing how he made Planet Terror look like a print that had been pissed on, stamped on and generally abused in a thousand fleapit projection rooms, Rodriguez nattily explains how each individual scratch and colour fade is used for dramatic effect.
As the dust from the Grindhouse debacle settles, Planet Terror just manages to limp away with its credibility intact. “He’s so fucking talented,” bitches Death Proof director Tarantino in a Q&A that’s bundled among the extras here. It’s half true. QT’s undoubtedly the better filmmaker but Rodriguez’s outing is the better exploitation flick: a walking dead whack-’em-up chock-full of girls, gore and gunplay that’s crying out to be filed alongside Nightmare City and Zombie Flesh Eaters. Roll on RR’s Mex-ploitation Machete...