By Mark Ramsey | 2007/04/09

In honor of Quentin Tarantino, I’m going to make the second half of this review weaker than the first and the entire thing significantly longer than necessary.

“When I make one movie I split it into two, but when I make two I pack them into one,” explained director Quentin Tarantino with bizarre reverse-logic. “Because if there’s anything the American attention span can’t get enough of, it’s an ode to a 35-year-old experience most moviegoers were too young to experience in the first place.”

grindhouse_trejo.jpgYes, the hotly anticipated Grindhouse opened to a smaller box office than Are We Done Yet, which was hotly anticipated only by the people Ice Cube owes money.

And that’s too bad. Because although I can think of a lot of ways to spend more than three hours, Grindhouse certainly isn’t one of the worst.

In Robert Rodriguez’s first chapter, Planet Terror, Rose McGowan loses a leg which is replaced by a semi-automatic machine gun. “You don’t want to know how she pulls the trigger,” says co-star Freddy Rodriguez, “but there’s not a guy on set who can find it.”

“Use the viewfinder,” Rose advises.

Planet Terror opens with Rose dancing around a pole. At a party once I saw her dancing around a producer, but she didn’t have a gun on her leg – unless you count his.

It’s not long before Black Eyed Peas frontwoman Fergie sneaks onto the set and lands herself a speaking role which is particularly impressive considering I wasn’t aware her talents included speaking.

grindhouse_mcgowan.jpgOur heroes must get to the military base with a brilliant scientist in a bandana who looks like El DeBarge. “Let’s move…” he shouts, “…to the beat of the rhythm of the night!”

Planet Terror is a zombie movie. I don’t know about you, but anytime I can casually out-walk a threat on one leg and a rifle butt, it loses its power to scare me. Plus, any creature who prefers the flavor of human flesh to Texas barbeque is to be pitied, not feared.

The “coming attractions” are classics. Most notorious will no doubt be Eli Roth’s trailer for the ersatz slasher flick Thanksgiving featuring many horrors, particularly the abundance of hair on man-beast Roth’s legs during the scene where he gets and loses head at the same time. Is this a werewolf movie? Does Eli wear a hat on those legs? Does he sit on a chair or a blow dryer?

Movie two, Death Proof, is from the hand and the pen of Quentin Tarantino, who has never met a conversation that doesn’t include five too many pages.

Starring Sidney Poitier’s ingeniously named daughter Sydney Poitier, Death Proof also features Cheryl Ladd progeny Jordan Ladd who can wrinkle her forehead like an accordion – but without any of that sweet polka music.

Kurt Russell also stars as “Stuntman Mike,” and with his poofy hair he’s closing in on Michael Landon’s notorious mane from zero-to-sixty in six seconds.

And there she is again, Ms. Rose McGowan, her legs intact and her lips slathered with so much firehouse-red she should mount a siren on her chin so we can pull over when she passes.

For the longest time, Death Proof is like a stage play with a car cameo. You can almost hear the audience’s attention shift into reverse. Things do pick up near the end, however, when we learn there are consequences to hanging on the hood of a speeding car by a couple of belts.

That’s when Death Proof becomes a delirious revenge fantasy, the best fifteen minute movie ever to run ninety minutes.

Grindhouse is heavy on the grind, but it’s a house worth visiting.

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