Hello constant reader. I’m sorry for not publishing much recently, I actually have had coursework to do, and I’m not just using that as a cover story this time. Anyway, I’d like to announce that we have another new contributor to The Minimum Effort, and his name is Connor. So sit back, have a read of his review-thing, and may the grammar gods forgive me for what I’m about to let him post. – Lewis
you can’t not like zombie movies. you can’t not like exploitation movies.
‘planet terror’ is a movie you can’t ‘dislike’.
that’s a fact. moving on.
to give a brief history; exploitation films were prevalent in the 1970’s and were bad action movies. bad in a good way though. they’re intentionally bad. and that’s not a case of ‘it’s so bad it’s good’. it’s just action. no real story. they were made purely for the intention of entertainment and nothing else. there’s even subgenres for people who have film… fetishes i guess; sexploitation, mexploitation, blaxploitation and more. they’re all rough, tough, harsh, brutal etc.
exploitation movies have a few fundamentals – super low budget (hence ‘exploitation’), attractive women, guns, explosions, nudity. anybody who wants to learn more, just google ‘roger corman’, that should sort you for a while.
anyway, robert rodriguez (tarantino’s best friend for everyone who doesn’t know anything about film other than some quotes from “pulp fiction”) wanted to make a tribute movie like that. quentin did too, and he subsequently made “death proof”. however, rodriguez made one of the best movies i’ve ever seen, and i’ve seen a fair few movies.
planet terror is basically your standard zombie movie in terms of story – some infection manages to spread, people are becoming zombies, a group of people have to kill them all and stop them taking over the world. the word ‘antidote’ is said a couple times just to help things make sense. i wasn’t even paying attention to the dialogue.
none of that’s original, however, what is original is: a woman with a machine gun for a leg, a british man who collects testicles, some guy seriously obsessed with bbq sauce, a cameo from fergie, a mexican gangster riding a pocketbike, earl mcgraw (a character in “from dusk til dawn” and “kill bill” (which is one of my favourite movies)), a cameo of bruce willis talking about how he killed bin laden, tarantino as a rapist, and a whole load of gore very similar to that of john carpenter’s “the thing”. it’s actually very akin to john carpenter’s work, which is a huge bonus for any movie. listening to the audio commentary (yes, i watch the special features) there’s endless references to carpenter.
i literally just watched the movie. i just finished it and i don’t even remember what even happened, and yet… i don’t care. it was awesome. it’s all action, some stupid storyline, blood & guts, cheesy one liners, zombies, what else could you want? its uniqueness is something i admire enormously.
what’s most worth mentioning–for me–is the fact that rodriguez chose to give the movie that old scratched look. if you, like i do, remember watching old westerns on tv that were all aged and grainy and scratched to pieces because it was the only remaining film reel left before it got made for tv, then that makes this movie so much better, because it’s something i haven’t seen in at least a decade. the first time i saw “shane” on tv it looked like the film itself had been dragged through the desert. if you don’t have any idea what i’m referring to, tyler durden (brad pitt) explains it perfectly in “fight club”. essentially, digital enhancement destroyed the genuine cinema experience. what’s best about it in planet terror is that if you pay attention, as the story turns darker and bad things happen, the film gets more scratched. i actually made it even more grainy using something on my computer and it only made it better.
this movie goes as far as having a part where the film burns out, a screen simply reading ‘missing reel’ appears and we jump about 15 minutes further into the movie without having to actually watch all that stuff develop. as far as i can remember, the only other movie that deteriorates and burns out is “the muppet movie”. i want to see more of it, it’s a great move that leaves you to fill in the gaps. in planet terror’s case it has this effect: everything’s fine–missing reel–eveything’s on fire. and suddenly there’s a couple of new characters and the whole cast is in the one place somehow. genius.
rodriguez’s lineage includes “sin city” and “machete”. it also includes all of the “spy kids” movies, and “sharkboy and lavagirl”. as far as genres go, he covers all grounds. to add to that, he writes the soundtracks for his own movies (as does john carpenter) so the movie deserves more respect than just being a silly b-horror. it’s more than that, and people who like film will understand that.
lewis and i had once written a few pages of a dodgy b-movie called “cocktopus” which was lost. it was made to be on the syfy channel, it had a random cowboy, no morals, a child who gets precisely what they don’t deserve, horrendously unfunny jokes (although, that’s the way dick pauls), blatant references to other movies (“planet of the apes” in our case), ludicrous premises, general stupidity all round. it would’ve been underrated and become a cult classic, guaranteed. honestly, planet terror reminds me exactly of that because all of those things are in this movie. so there’s something extra in this film for me personally. but then again i only remembered this after i’d watched the movie, so don’t worry.
i realise this extra long review barely even talks about the movie, but i love it, and i’ll put it this way: if i owned a cinema this would be the movie i’d show every friday at midnight. frankly, it’s one of those movies that you just have to love for what it is: it’s fun. it’s really fun. watch it.
(DISCLAIMER: ALEX, DON’T WATCH IT)