Death Proof is the more dialogue-oriented half of Grindhouse. A Quentin Tarantino film in which an aging stuntman uses his souped-up stuntcar to kill women on the open road. Little does he realize that a few of his second bunch of victims are stuntwomen... and among them is Zoe Bell (playing herself), who also doubled for Uma Thurman in Kill Bill in real life. Boy, is Stuntman Mike in for a world of hurt...
These eight women are about to meet one diabolical trope:
Ain't Too Proud to Beg: When Stuntman Mike has kidnapped Pam and trapped her in his car, she reacts angrily at first and threatens to kill him. When she realizes she can't escape, she tearfully begs Mike to let her go and that she won't tell anyone. He mocks her situation before giving the death blow.
All Men Are Perverts: Stuntman Mike, well he needs no explanation. Dov and Omar are desperate to get the girls drunk so they can screw them. Nate whines to Arlene about only making out with her. Cecil Lewis, whom we don't even meet, sleeps with another woman on Abernathy's birthday. Lee's boyfriend gets turned on by watching her pee. All of Kim's boyfriends have been stolen from another woman. The one exception seems to be Warren the bartender - who just happens to also be the director of the movie.
All Women Are Lustful: The women themselves aren't exactly prudes either. Jungle Julia essentially whores her friend out over the radio, flirts shamelessly with anyone (including Shanna's own father) and has her legs on display everywhere. Arlene does the lap dance out of an attack on her pride. Kim has a habit of stealing other women's boyfriends. Lee allows a man to watch her pee so he can get off to it.
Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Played straight and averted, depending on which girl you're talking about. Played straight - Shanna is thrown from the car and lands on the road apparently undisfigured while Lanna Frank hits the dashboard amid broken glass that doesn't cut her face. Also ZoŽ makes it through the first car chase without a single scratch and barely any dirt, despite getting thrown off the car into a field. Averted - Pam's face gets covered with blood as she is killed. Jungle Julia's leg gets sliced off in the crash and the spinning wheel of Mike's car rips Arlene's face off.
Bechdel Test: The second group of girls pass this just fine. They do briefly talk about the men in their lives but they also talk about their work, films, cars, guns and the time ZoŽ fell in the ditch.
Black and Gray Morality: Abby and her friends aren't terribly nice people, playing some pretty cruel jokes on Lee (who is an airhead but doesn't do anything otherwise to deserve that treatment) and then dumping her as collateral with seriously sleazy guy (while lying about her being a porn star) so they get be insanely reckless with a car. Of course the villain is a lot worse...
Butt Monkey: Poor Lee, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Being the ditz of the group, she's always the target of some jokes, even being scared by ZoŽ, when she mistook her for an Australian and ZoŽ pretended that was her Berserk Button.
Call Back: Stuntman Mike drops a Double Entendre on Butterfly saying "I just got lucky", echoing the same quote made by Nate earlier. In both cases the guy gets Butterfly to do something kinky.
The Cameo: Quentin Tarantino as Warren the bartender. Dakota Block, her brother and Earl McGraw in the middle of the film. Also the Crazy Babysitter Twins from Planet Terror show up during Butterfly's lap dance.
Camera Sniper: Stuntman Mike watching the second group girls from his car. They walk in slow motion as Stuntman Mike adjusts the camera focus to follow them.
Car Fu: A large chunk (roughly the last six minutes of the movie).
Compensating for Something: Lee and Abernathy watch Stuntman Mike burn rubber out of the service station in his Dodge Charger R/T 500 and conclude, "Little dick." Given that he gets his kicks by killing women with his car, and is later shown sitting with the hood ornament between his legs, they may be right.
Continuity Nod - The reappearance of Earl McGraw. See above. Also, Jasper the redneck seems to be the same person as Buck from Kill Bill.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Abby. She disapproves of Kim's gun and complains when they are going to do a stunt. After Stuntman Mike pissed her off enough, she suggested killing him. And later, it is actually her who kicks his head in.
Curse Cut Short: Kim slamming the door cuts off the end of Abernethy's "I gotta take a piss".
Death by Sex: Inverted. The first girls, in spite of acting all wild, are actually pretty uptight about sex (especially Arlene/Butterfly), and they die. The second group, on the other hand, are very open about their sex lives, and they not only survive, they kill the bad guy!
As per Halfway Plot Switch below, this is deliberate — low budget films had a lot of filler of people talking because action scenes were expensive.
Fan Disservice: Jungle Julia's long luscious legs getting ripped off in a car crash.
Faux Affably Evil: While stalking his victims, Stuntman Mike takes the guise of a cheesy but occasionally charming guy to hide being a murderous pervert. After getting run off the road, he tries to give his second batch of would-be victims a cheery salute for surviving, but they're not playing around.
Fanservice: The opening has a long shot of Julia's underwear-clad bum. The extended cut also includes Butterfly giving Mike a lap dance (subverted in the theatrical cut with a "Missing Reel" over that scene). And if you've got a foot fetish, you're in luck, because so does Tarantino.
Five Second Foreshadowing: When Pam realizes that Stuntman Mike isn't actually going to give her a ride home, there's a super close up of her eyes. One second before Stuntman Mike hits the gas and speeds off... With Pam locked in the passenger side.
Food Porn: Stuntman Mike really is enjoying those delicious nachos...
Fruit Cart: In the final car chase the girls are amused when they drive through an old boat sitting out in the middle of a field for no apparent reason. "Did you just hit a boat?"
Grin of Audacity: ZoŽ. While she is legitimately scared shitless during Stuntman Mike's attack on their car, she bounces back from being thrown off the hood and even quips "Whew, that was a close one!" before suggesting that they all go after Mike.
Halfway Plot Switch: Halfway through, the movie is filmed with a very different style, with very different characters, in a very different place. It was almost like watching a sequel in the middle of the first movie! Reading an interview with Tarantino reveals that this is actually exactly what's supposed to be going on. A bit of Truth in Television - the shoestring nature of the B-movie industry meant a lot of half-finished productions. These might be finished by an entirely different crew, or by just editing in footage from another unrelated half-finished production. Monster A-Go Go is a classic example of this technique going utterly wrong.
The film itself foreshadows this plot switch. During the opening, the film briefly shows one of the films was originally called Thunder Bolt.
Abernethy: What? You've never watched John Hughes movies?
Kim: Of course. I'm a girl. But I also watch car movies.
Long Hair Is Feminine: Going hand in hand with Real Women Don't Wear Dresses. The first group of girls all have very long hair, elbow-length at the shortest. They die. In the second group of girls, they have much shorter hair to indicate their Ladette tendencies (except for Lee but she isn't included in the car chase). They don't die.
Market-Based Title - In-Universe. Death Proof was apparently released as Thunder Bolt in some markets, as suggested by the title card that appears for a split second before the "correct" title is superimposed.
Mating Dance: The lapdance Butterfly gives Stuntman Mike while lip-syncing to "Down in Mexico" by The Coasters. Afterwards Butterfly and Jungle Julia joke that thanks to the dance Pam (who's taking a ride home with Mike) will end up getting laid because of it.
May-December Romance: Defied. People keep joking that Pam is hooking up with Stuntman Mike, but she loudly protests that he's too old. Then he murders her.
Rapunzel Hair: Jungle Julia has magnificent hair that goes well past her waist. Pam remarks that it's thanks to "lots of leave-in conditioner". Pam and Shanna have some pretty lengthy hair themselves too.