'Grindhouse Presents, Death Proof: Unrated'
(Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2007 / The Weinstein Company)
Overview: A deranged stuntman stalks his victims from the safety of his killer car, but when he picks on the wrong group of badass babes, all bets are off in an adrenaline-pumping, high speed, white-knuckle automotive duel of epic proportions, where anything can happen.
DVD Verdict: So it seems that the studio is trying something different - afetr every man and his dog stated that the original showing of the Grindhouse Double Feature was just tooooooooooo damn long, as they've split the two films up! Now complete with extra scenes that were cut for time, they are giving us these two films as we haven't yet seen them - each in double-disc editions packed with extras!
Sure the Tarantino purists out there are angry they missed out and want both films on one DVD (as if there'd even be room!) for a discount price. Sorry, but it don't work that way. The theatrical cut was packaged as just that, an experience for the theaters simulating the double-feature drive-in days of old. Even if that experience would translate to DVD, why would the company re-release it in the same form that already failed miserably?
The bottom line is this: we now have another chance to show that THIS is what we as horror fans want to see and the only way to do that is to buy these great-looking DVDs. The notion that making the films bomb yet again on DVD is going to lead to some super-duper deluxe theatrical edition must have been conceived in the mind of a five year old on c***k. If we don't support these editions, these films will die and the studio will waste no more money on this failed project or any like it in the future.
"Death Proof" was Quentin Tarantino's half of the "Grindhouse" experience. It's a film of stunning originality that switches gears between genres seamlessly and, in true Tarantino fashion, pays tribute to it's influences all the way going so far as to name the films it strives to emulate. "Planet Terror", Robert Rodriguez's zombie-heavy gorefest that served as the other half of "Grindhouse", captured the spirit of exploitation cinema by being over-the-top and silly, but "Death Proof" pays homage to it while building a more subtle, character-driven masterpiece. Kurt Russell plays an old stunt driver with a car built so that the driver can not be killed no matter how bad he crashes (death proof, see?).
Well, the guy is a bit of a misogynistic bastard (and a wuss at that) and he gets his jollies by murdering young, beautiful women, possibly as a way of getting back at a world that doesn't share his enthusiasm for -or even a vague awareness of- the carphilic genre films that make up his very existence. His weapon of choice? His stunt car, of course. They crash, he lives, they die. There is an amazing scene where a crash with a car full of girls is replayed over-and-over, each repeat focusing on a different girl and her particular gory demise. Unbelievable. The girls are all well fleshed-out as characters with lives and personalities of their own and you just don't know who will live and die. You cheer when they live, you gasp (and then cheer at the way it was filmed) when they die; a win-win situation.
Rose McGownan is indeed the grindhouse queen as she co-stars in both films and steals the show in every scene she appears in. Real-life stuntwoman Zoe Bell makes her acting debut and proves an impossibly endearing on-screen presence who shall henceforth be known as Spiderwoman to me after her incredible stuntwork here. Rosario Dawson charms as always and the rest of the cast is beyond solid as well.
The last twenty minutes of "Death Proof" are among the greatest of any film I've ever seen. Edge of your seat barely begins to describe the chase sequences and the finale had me literally applauding in the theater as I laughed myself silly. You will not see the ending coming unless you've see or heard about it already. The rest of the film is splattered with homages and references to classic drive-in fare, humorous and profane dialogue, horror cliches (horny + stoned + female = splat!), and more QT goodness.
Note: This extended cut features the infamous "reel missing" scene featuring a very sexy lapdance and more of the film's awesome music. There is also a black-and-white sequence where Russell and Dawson indulge in Tarantino's creepy foot fetish and a hilarious convenience store scene which stars the almost undrinkable "Big Red" soda in damn near every shot. I laughed harder every time the camera focused on the offending soft drink. The special features are impressive; the highlight for me was watching goretastic horror director Eli Roth plead with Kurt Russell in-between takes where Roth's character had to diss the horror legend! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
'Death Proof': Extened and Unrated
Trailers and Poster Gallery
Stunts On Wheels: The Legendary Drivers Of 'Death Proof'
Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike
Finding Quentin's Gals
The Guys Of 'Death Proof'
Introducing ZoŽ Bell
Quentin' Greatest Collaborator: Editor Sally Menke
'Double Dare' Trailer