Grindhouse Review 15 Years Later Viewing Brings New Perspective

Side-by-side posters of Planet Terror and Death Proof, the double film that makes up Grindhouse.

A clipping of the poster Grinding.
Image: Dimension

it is impossible to look Grinding the same way today as we did 15 years ago for two names: Rose McGowan and Harvey Weinstein. In 2017, McGowan, who stars in both halves of the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino double feature, accused Weinstein, one of the film’s executive producers, of raping her in 1997, 10 years before the film’s release. Grinding. With that knowledge and all of its aftermath, seeing the actress play both Cherry Darling in horror planet and Pam in proof of deathYou can’t help but project some of that fear and pain into the performance, but in two totally different ways. It does not ruin the innocent intentions of Grindingbut it casts a different light on them.

Grinding premiered on April 6, 2007 as a three-hour-plus theatrical experience made up of two full-length feature films, plus mock trailers, commercials, and more. It was a bold experiment by two of the boldest filmmakers of the day and, financially, it flopped, grossing just $26 million against a budget probably double that. At the time, you had a feeling that the general public wasn’t sure what they were seeing and word of mouth damaged the film.

What the public looked at were the directors of Outlaw and pulp fiction trying to turn modern multiplexes into theaters of the past. Movie theaters with sticky floors and rips in the screen showing disgusting movies with missing reels and scratches on all prints. Most audiences just wanted to see a normal movie, and Grinding It wasn’t that. I loved it though and not only saw the movie in theaters but bought the Blu-ray a few years later. Oddly enough, though, that Blu-ray remained wrapped in plastic until this week. In 15 years, I never saw her again. There was something intimidating about Grinding. The length, which seems much more manageable now after a few years of three-hour comic book blockbusters, was a factor. But it was also as if my subconscious memory of the movie was too traumatic to go back. So I didn’t. Upon rewatching it, though, I found not only some very valid reasons for that trepidation, but a movie that reads very differently because of the times.

Cherry Blossom with a gun for a leg.

Rose McGowan as Cherry Darling in planet of terror
Image: Dimension

The first feature of Grinding is horror planet by Robert Rodriguez. It is set on a single night when a dangerous toxin is released into the air, turning most of a small Texas town into skin-melting, flesh-eating zombies. The movie is fast paced, action packed and one of the most disgusting movies I have ever seen. Seriously. I forgot how repulsive horror planet that is to say, from the testicles that melt to the tongue that spits pus, it is full of all kinds of profanity. I like to think I have a strong stomach, but sometimes I had to turn my head.

Of course, that’s the point horror planet. It’s supposed to be shocking, disturbing, and also make you laugh. To that end, there are plenty of deliberately cheesy and offensive jokes throughout and they’re delivered by the film’s dozens of prominent characters (played by Josh Brolin, Freddy Rodriguez, Naveen Andrews, Michael Biehn, Bruce Willis, and others). Any of which could probably warrant their own article, but at the center of them all is Cherry Darling (McGowan). Cherry opens the film, performing a sultry go-go dance during the credits, and then loses her leg, leading to some questionable disability humor. Ultimately, she fulfills her destiny when she turns her leg into a machine gun and not only saves her friends but starts a revolution. It’s a fun ride, but it’s a lot, and ultimately 15 years undermines it from the very first scene.

Starting with McGowan, scantily clad and dancing provocatively, you get Rodriguez’s intent, but it has a different impact in 2022. The name “Harvey Weinstein” plastered over the dance instantly creates a mental montage of news, interviews, pain and suffering. As a result, the juxtaposition turns from seductive to counterproductive. Cherry’s overall heroic journey finally fixes this somewhat, but the added weight of the story makes the title horror planet it feels a little too real. When he finished, he was emotionally spent. But Grinding it was just beginning.

the actors standing outside mike's car.

McGowan and Russell in Proof of death.
Image: Dimension

After some fake trailers (created by Rob Zombie, Edgar Wright, Eli Roth and more), Grinding goes to its second function, proof of death by Quentin Tarantino. proof of death It is about a sadistic driver named Stuntman Mike, played by Kurt Russell, who stalks and kills young women with his car. Yet, in true Tarantino fashion, that reality is obscured for much of the film by his trademark pulpy and indulgent dialogue, not to mention the camerawork that focuses on his protagonists’ breasts, buttocks, and feet. . Which, again, he could probably use his own item.

That all changes around 40 minutes into the film when a young woman named Pam (once again played by McGowan) thinks Mike is giving her a ride home. Once in the car, Mike reveals her intentions to kill her and does so by shaking the car wildly as she sits in the passenger seat without a seat belt or padding. It’s a brutal scene, made even more brutal today when you imagine the violence McGowan had to endure from Weinstein. It’s hard to forget that you’re watching a character being brutalized in a movie paid for by a person who actually abused her. A feeling that is even more heartbreaking than the opening of horror planet.

But this is where things change. McGowan’s horror planet the character was highly objectified throughout, but ultimately rises above that to become a leader. Pam is not objectified, she is brutally murdered. Which, at first, feels awful. But how proof of death continues and Tarantino introduces us to the next group of women that Stuntman Mike will target, it all comes full circle. Mike begins terrorizing the second group of women (played by Rosario Dawson, Zoe Bell, and Tracie Thoms), but soon realizes he’s messing with the wrong women. They go around the tables, chasing him with his car. The sequence, the movie, and the entire double feature all end in a long scene of the women beating up Mike. Like, truly, a brutal beating that ends with Dawson’s character splitting his head open with her shoe in the final image of the film.

the four actors walking in an airport.

Winstead, Dawson, Bell, and Thoms.
Image: Dimension

At that moment, Grinding has triumphed over McGowan’s abuser. Mike is not only humiliated and defeated, but he is also killed. It was then, and only then, that he began to feel that Grinding had not been negatively impacted by the 15-year history between one of its stars and producers. It was a feeling that I felt from the first frame but, in the same latest Marco, when Pam’s killer receives satisfactory justice, the tables tip the other way.

not having revisited Grinding as a whole in 15 years, I was overwhelmed by everything that had to be said about it. On the surface, yes, it’s 190 minutes of balls against the wall, sometimes literally insane. But the scripts do an excellent job of balancing hit value and self-awareness, plus the creature works on horror planet is completely amazing, as is the trick in proof of death. There are also plenty of problematic bits sprinkled in before you even get to McGowan’s characters. However, I’m watching the movie now, in 2022, and it really was the McGowan arc that stood out the most. He made me realize how a true life story can change the implication and perception of a movie. You can even take a silly and frivolous experiment like Grinding turn it into something else. A kind of redemption.

Grinding It’s not streaming anywhere, but it’s available on Blu-ray.

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