Grindhouse: Death Proof (2007)

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Released separately from its double billing with Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror which played as part of the two directors’ epic salute to trash Grindhouse, Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof is both an admittedly cheesy throwback to the “chicks in trouble” exploitation films of the 1970’s and a worthy entry into the auetuer’s oeuvre, identifiable at once as the work of Tarantino with its classic rock music, emphasis on shots focusing on women’s feet, and pages of dialogue that spill out of the mouths of his characters guaranteed to shock and awe.

Like most of the films in the genre, Tarantino takes great pains introducing us to two separate groups of young women—the first an admittedly trashy and wild Austin, Texas crew led by Sydney Poitier and Vanessa Ferlito who talk about sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll, oblivious to the fact that a creepy, deranged middle aged man named Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) is following them from bar to bar, driving around his death proof, crash ready car. After endearing the girls to the audience in an overly long hour, we watch in horror as Stuntman Mike plows the four women down with sadistic glee, only to show up much later in Tennessee to stalk four new women working on a film crew.

The second group of four is more fascinating than the first and far worthier opponents consisting of both brains and beauty with the likable casting of Rosario Dawson and two stuntwomen Tracie Thoms (who proves to be a natural with Tarantino’s dialogue) and feisty real life Kill Bill stuntwoman Zoe Bell playing herself.

Brimming over the surface with all things Tarantino including numerous references to Kill Bill (such as a cell phone ringtone, a few characters, costumes etc.) and a virtual opposite gender recreation of the opening scene of Reservoir Dogs—the thrillingly shocking twenty minute car chase at the end of the film featuring Bell on the hood of a car (and doing all her own stunts) is enough to make the film worthy of a rental fee but we want a little bit more to be revealed about Stuntman Mike, who, true to the genre just seems to be a sadistic madman devoid of personality (such as the main villain in Spielberg’s Duel).

Still, crazy fun for film buffs with an outstanding soundtrack and super cool cinematography, this time shot by Tarantino himself (who also does double duty and shows up in the first half as a bartender).