‘Grindhouse’ revisits genre

When bad taste and cinema meet, grindhouse is born. The word describes a film genre popular in the ’70s and characterized as “exploitation films” or “paracinema.” Films of this era were known for their sensationalism, as well for their excessive use of gore, sex and violence. Typically shown in run-down, inner city theaters known as grindhouses, the genre is best known for cult classics such as “I Spit on your Grave” and “Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!”

As they say, everything old is new again, and with a revival of the horror genre already underway, a revival of true grindhouse cinema was inevitable and overdue. Thankfully, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez are recreating that lost art and experience in the appropriately titled film, “Grindhouse.” In an homage to the double-feature tradition that this sort of subculture was known for, the movie consists of two films, one made by each of the directors.

Staying true to the original feel of this genre is a must, and both directors accomplish that goal. The film looks scratched and beaten, as if the reel has been tossed around an aging cinema for years. The “coming attractions” and “ratings” transitions are done in a ’70s style, complete with faux trailers of other “upcoming” grindhouse-style movies. Zero computer effects are used because all special effects are done in a very traditional style. It all adds to the ambience of the films, and is the perfect excuse to go see this in the rattiest, most broken down movie theatre you can find. Even better if it’s a drive-in.

Rodriguez’s “Planet Terror” is the first film of the double feature, and is a perfect homage to classic zombie movies, as well as a great parody of those films. The movie unfolds with the same plot points that any classic Romero-made film would (Romero invented the modern zombie movie paradigm), but with some added original twists. Beat by beat, there is no wasted time in this feature as the plot moves quickly to the stuff that matters, skipping the boring dialogue and exposition with which modern films waste time. The plot builds perfectly, the action stays on tempo throughout, and the film is at all times unapologetically violent, sexy, funny and gory.

“Deathproof” finishes off the experience with Tarantino’s take on the genre, and moves just like you would expect a Tarantino film to move. There’s a lot of memorable, quotable dialogue spoken by characters who are impossibly cool, with a ton of swearing and violence packed in for good measure. The film is good, but not nearly as well paced as “Planet Terror,” and comes off as a bit anticlimactic as the second movie. Thematically, it’s an homage to car-chase films like “Vanishing Point,” but structurally is a slasher film where the killer uses a car rather than a knife to kill beautiful women who look like they just escaped from a Russ Meyer film.

“Grindhouse” is a must see for any subculture film fan or anyone looking for a fun popcorn flick and isn’t upset by blood, violence and tons of gore. No other pair of directors today could have done a better representation of this genre. Take the chance and go see something different than a clich