Directed by Robert Rodriguez
(2007) 95 min
By Kevin Kocur and Susan Starr
OK, I’ll admit it—I am the wrong person to write a review of this movie since I don’t like blood and guts and gross things. Hey, I get queasy watching medical dramas like House and ER. That being said, “Planet Terror” is a big gore-fest. Kevin kept telling me to cover my eyes, but I don’t think he was even watching it all the way through. My main comment while watching it was Yuck! But even though I didn’t enjoy it, it isn’t a bad movie.
The plot of the movie is simple. At an old military base, a green gas has been released into the atmosphere that turns people into flesh-eating zombies. We are introduced to a variety of characters who spend the film trying to avoid being eaten by the zombies. In order to fight off the zombies, they have to fire millions of bullets.
Rose McGowan plays a go-go dancer whose leg is ripped off by zombies early in the movie. If you’ve seen any of the trailers, you know that she eventually uses a machine gun as a prosthetic for her missing leg. It doesn’t seem very practical to me, but it does let her spin around with her leg sticking out, shooting zombies. Which is cool. She’s lucky that it was her right leg because she can still ride a motorcycle.
The movie is designed to feel like the old low budget B movies that studios used to churn out. Sometimes the picture would waver, as though the projectionist was having problems, or the film appeared scratched. The characters are mostly stereotypes and there is a lot of low brow humor. Most of the women are total babes who show lots of cleavage, and cars blow up for no reason at all. The movie uses a clever trick to avoid showing us a graphic sex scene. Remember kids: disgusting, bloody violence is OK, but sex is a no-no.
Ah yes, the old “B” films. Sex, violence and 50 cent movie theater popcorn. OK, I really wasn’t overwhelmed with Planet Terror. Originally shown as a part of the double-header film “Grindhouse”—along with Quentin Tarantino’s “Deathproof”—it made for one long, long visit to the movie theater. Low box-office turnouts resulted in the two flicks being re-released separately.
Even with my high tolerance for gore, there was just too much of it. Always. Constantly. Eventually you start to lose appreciation for the brilliant writing and cheap jokes. There’s just so much…….ick.
Ick aside, there is motorcycle content in this film, including a custom Jesse James choppa that’s used to go zombie hunting, and a trick little pocket bike that does wheelies (baby’s first stunta bike). There are cool vintage cars as well; the stand-out being the old International tow truck. There are more bikes featured in the fake trailer Machete (the fake trailers were my personal favorites).
The best part of this movie is the cast. Some superb casting includes Freddy Rodriguez, Naveen Andrews, Josh Brolin, Marley Shelton and Michael Parks (reprising his role as Texas Ranger Earl McGraw). My favorite character was BBQ joint owner, J.T. (brilliantly played by Jeff Fahey) Rent it on DVD (if you have the stomach) and squirm in the comfort of your own living room. Pass the BBQ sauce, please.
Trivia Time! When Dr. Dakota Block enters her office, in the background is a small notepad. On it is a checklist, and the last item written on it is “Kill Bill” (a reference to a Tarantino movie)
In the scene where Earl McGraw (Michael Parks) is at home with his wife, the camera pans past a picture of a man on a motorcycle. That picture is from the 1969 TV series, “Then Came Bronson”, in which Parks played the lead character.