I am a fan of Tarantino, though I'm slightly disappointed with his portion in the Tarantino-Rodriguez Grindhouse partnership. It's classic Tarantino with the excellent dialogue, but Death Proof seemed to be lacking something, and seemed more like a Tarantino movie done Blaxploitation style. Now Rodriguez's offering with Planet Terror is the bomb, and it is miles better than Death Proof in containing the spirit of Grindhouse, and that it doesn't seem to have his fingerprints and stylistic references all over it, making it a truly wicked grindhouse experience.
The opening pole dance by Rose McGowan as Cherry Darling is worth the admission ticket, set to a pulsating score contributed by Rodriguez himself, which rocked the entire picture with its snazzy, catchy tune which doesn't seem the least embarrassing. It's worth more than the lap dance sequence in Death Proof, which seemed rather tame as compared to the energy exuded by McGowaan. But sexiness is not just her character's trait, as she does get to kick some serious butt with that machine gun to save humanity, and does so with aplomb, that I will rate her Cherry Darling as one of the most interesting female action heroes out there.
And true to the spirit of Grindhouse, there are tons, and I mean really tons of blazing guns that don't seem to run out of bullets, blood that splatter, spray, and ooze, plenty of gore and many more gut spilling. Action sequences are filled with exaggeration and stylized violence, you can't help but to chuckle at them, yet cheer them on. To me, it seemed that all the cast and crew had a wonderful time trying to recreate those cheesy moments, especially with the spouting of extremely cringeworthy lines of dialogue, and even more terrible acting, but this attitude of fun permeates through the movie, even having an essential reel (with I'm sure plenty more flesh you would want to see, and probably some major plot revelations as well) gone missing. Ha!
The story played out like a no brainer, with plenty of characters thrown in for the fun of it, and scenes which jump from one to another without much proper coherence. But who cares, since all we want to see are flesh and blood. So the semblance of a story goes with an experimental biological weapon released airborne into a town, and everyone starts turning into zombies one by one. It's Invasion and a gang of survivors, ala 28 Days/Weeks Later, got to put aside their differences, gang together and hold out for survival, which involved a scene which looked straight out of Feast.
Freddy Rodriguez leads the group as highly skilled with a mysterious past El Wray, who has the hots for Cherry Darling, his ex. They're joined by Dr. Dakota Block (Marley Shelton), Sheriff Hague and Deputy Carlos - Michael Biehn from Terminator and Crlos Gallardo from El Mariachi - experienced folks with guns and survival of course, and a hot of other recognizable faces like Stacy Ferguson, Naveen Andrews, and even Quentin Tarantino as well, in a role that is reminiscent of his character in From Dusk Till Dawn (at least that mouth of his anyway) and in a scene that will bound to make his detractors laugh out loud. Look out too for a cameo appearance (and this guy seem to be making a lot of uncredited/cameo appearances too) and his dialogue regarding the war on terror.
I'd highly recommend Planet Terror over Death Proof anytime (sorry Tarantino), and it is too bad their idea of kickstarting a slew of Grindhouse features seemed to have taken a backseat due to the lacklustre performance of their double bill. But this one, I'd go as far as to say it's under contention for my top 10 movies of the year, as I haven't had so much fun at the theatres for a long while already. Go watch, and don' forget the coda (extremely short though) at the end of the credits.
P.S. the movie version shown in Singapore is the extended version, and came together with the "Prevue" of Machete, one of the fake trailer segment out of four which made it here.