Film / Planet Terror

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/PlanetTerror_752.jpg

Planet Terror is the more action-oriented half of Grindhouse. A 2007 Robert Rodriguez film in which a military transaction goes awry and an experimental poison gas is released on a small town in rural Texas, turning the unsuspecting civilians turn into bloodthirsty zombies. The only people who can stop them are a Go-Go-Dancer with a gun for a leg, her expert gunman ex-boyfriend, a pair of crazy babysitter twins, a shellshocked doctor, a Jerkass cop, a crusty sheriff, a scientist obsessed with testicles, and many other trailer-park freaks from deep in the Heart of Texas.


Humanity's last tropes...resting on a high-power machine gun are:

  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: A weird case. An alternate cut of the film exists where Tony survives. The reason Dakota runs to the second helicopter is to ensure a seat for Tony. In the final cut, where he has died, she has no practical reason to run to the second helicopter.
  • Adrenaline Makeover: Dakota goes from meek nurse that suffers several agonizing indignities to a woman that uses a pistol-sized syringe launcher to kill a soldier.
  • Advertised Extra: Parodied. Bruce Willis is front and centre on the poster, despite having barely any screen time. This parodies a B-movie tradition of casting a big name in a small part and then hyping them up as if they were the star. Note that Bruce Willis rarely shares the frame with another actor, giving the impression that his scenes were all filmed separately.
  • After the End: The epilogue... and it's a big "maybe". On one hand, there's a lot of survivors and life is pretty idyllic for them. On the other hand, there are a lot of zombies (but if they decompose as fast as the soldiers did, it's a matter of time).
  • An Arm and a Leg: Cherry loses a leg pretty early on. Part of her own Adrenaline Makeover is actively weaponizing the improvized prosthetic legs she's given throughout the film.
  • Attempted Rape: Guess what The Rapist tries to do to Cherry.
    The Rapist: You gave me some wood, now I'm going to give you some wood!
  • Bare Your Midriff: The female deputy after the "missing reel." Also, Cherry all the way.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "El Wray" is the phonetic English pronunciation of "El Rey"=The King. May double as a Shout-Out to Elvis Presley, and as a Punny Name.
  • Bi the Way: Dakota Block, who is married to a male doctor, but has a lesbian lover on the side and seems attracted to Cherry Darling.
  • Bittersweet Ending: DC-2 spreads around the world and no one has any way of finding a cure but Cherry is leading survivors to humanity's last foothold on the Mexican coast.
  • Body Horror: By the buckets. Infectees' bodies are covered in huge gangrenous pustules. Also, The Rapist and Lt. Muldoon when they're not inhaling the gas.
  • Boom, Headshot:
    • Poor, poor Abby is killed this way.
    • Muldoon says he delivered one to Osama bin Laden, along with a shot to the chest. Back in 2007, it was kinda funny; in 2011, it became really funny because that's how bin Laden really died.
  • Brain Food: The zombie-like mutants eat Fergie's brain, prompting the gag, "Looks like we've got a no-brainer." Similarly, a repeated line throughout the film is "I'm gonna eat your brain and gain your knowledge," first said as a small boy is playing with his action figures, although by the time Josh Brolin starts saying it, it gets creepy/hilarious.
  • Bury Your Gays: Tammi is Dakota's lesbian lover on the sly, and ends up getting eaten by zombies (first casualty on the film, even!)
  • Catch-Phrase:
  • Celebrity Resemblance: One of the evil soldiers (played by Quentin Tarantino) makes a point about how Cherry (Rose McGowan) resembles Ava Gardner. He also threatens her that if she continues to look at him with contempt that she "won't look like Ava Gardner no more."
  • Chekhov's Skill: Cherry's impressive flexibility, among other "useless skills" of hers. Lampshaded early on by Dakota saying (while she's talking to Cherry) lthat her dad once told her everything anybody learnt throughout his life would always have a moment where it came useful.
  • Combat Stilettos: Cherry, on her good leg. She stabs a zombie's eye off with it at one point.
  • Death by Cameo: Sure enough, Quentin Tarantino has a few minutes of screentime, in which he suffers a gruesome death. His character had it coming, though.
  • Deliberately Cute Child: Played by Robert Rodriguez' son, Rebel. Sadly, Infant Immortality is averted.
  • Everything Is Big in Texas: The story not only happens in Texas, J.T.'s Catch-Phrase is "best in Texas".
  • Exact Words: J.T. mentions that never will his brother share his BBQ recipe, even if he is dying in his brother's arms. When they are both mortally wounded, J.T. shares his recipe and his brother dies in his arms.
  • Explosion Propulsion: Cherry performs a live-action "Rocket Jump" with her leg-mounted grenade launcher on the climactic fight.
  • Eye Scream: Happens a lot, with anything from bullets to knives to chair legs to stilleto heels to needles to zombie goo.
  • Faking the Dead: JT, with sausage. Played for Laughs
  • Fingore:
    • Poor, poor Dakota Block.
    • Deputy Tolo gets his ring finger bitten off by a zombie. He puts the ring on his middle finger afterwards.
  • For Science!: Abby.
    "Science comes first but business comes a close fucking seconds."
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Dr. William Block. And keep in mind, that was before he was turned into a zombie. You gotta admit, those specs look good though.
  • Gatling Good: In the last scene of the film, Cherry has attached a minigun to her leg stump.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: "Goddamnit, girls. If you're gonna do that, do it on stage!"
  • Godzilla Threshold: In the wake of the sicko outbreak, the police force breaks out the "All or Nothing" box, which involves giving everyone a badge, a gun, and a deputy rank. Though they still won't let El Wray use a gun.
  • Gorn: Hoo boy. Any scene with zombies in it is bound to be messy.
  • Groin Attack: Abby seems fond of them, cutting off people's balls and keeping them in a jar. And the rapist soldier's testicles actually melt off.
  • Her Boyfriend's Jacket: Cherry wears El Wray's leather jacket, much to his chagrin since she left him and he was searching for it for months.
  • Homage: The action may be all Robert Rodriguez, but the horror suspense elements, down to the synthesizer music, is pure John Carpenter.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted, in one of the film's few genuinely horrific scenes. Robert Rodriguez said he used his own kid, Rebel, as Tony because he didn't want to 'kill' anyone else's kid. He also made a less-violent cut of the film where Tony survives the movie for Rebel to watch.
  • Insistent Terminology: Cherry doesn't like being called a "stripper", she refers to herself as a "go-go dancer".
  • Ironic Echo
    • "I'm gonna eat your brain and gain your knowledge."
    • "It's go-go, not cry-cry."
    • "No dead bodies for Da-Da tonight."
      • "What did I tell you, Tony? Don't point the gun at yourself. Didn't I tell you that?"
  • The Jaywalking Dead: A small caravan of vehicles rips through several zombies, and one unfortunate dog. Also, as a possible subversion of the trope, earlier in the film, El Wray swerves to avoid a man he doesn't know is a zombie, ultimately crashing his car.
  • Leg Cannon: Cherry Darling had her leg eaten by zombies, and replaced it with an M-4 assault rifle, which she used to kick much ass. And then later, she had that replaced with a full-on minigun. It's a bit ambiguous how she fires it, though, since we never see her reaching down to pull a trigger.
  • Lost in Transmission: The audience sees "MISSING REEL." During the missing reel, it's implied, we'd have gotten to see Rose McGowan totally naked, plus the entire plot surrounding Wray's mysterious origins would have been explained. And when the film comes back, everything's on fire, and we'll never know why. Possibly the best cut in movie history.
    • There's a Meta-Gag in there as well. A presumed urban legend (re-told in the novel Fight Club) is that older movies would have their nude scenes cut shorter and shorter as projectionists removed a few choice frames for their collection. Notably, all of the sexier bits seem a lot more grainy, as if they've been watched more than the rest of the film.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: When people are shot in this movie, they emit absolutely ridiculous explosions of blood.
  • Made of Plasticine: Everyone, human and zombie alike.
  • Mad Libs Catchphrase: "Useless talent # __"
  • Male Gaze: In Cherry Darling's go-go dance. Up until the film "melts" and the scene becomes missing, the sex scene with El Wray had plenty of titillation, too.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Subverted with Dakota after she gives her son a loaded gun to defend himself with, only to have him shoot himself in the head. She then starts cradling the kill and when her husband shows up, she shrieks blame at him for it.
  • No Name Given:
    • We don't really know what Cherry's real name is. "Palomita" was just something Wray gave her.
    • Also El Wray's name itself, as per his Mysterious Past.
  • Noodle Incident: The "missing reel." Cut to the diner on fire. Sheriff Hague had been shot. Dakota and her father, the babysitters, the go-go dancing club owner and some of the dancers somehow made it there. And El Wray has told them his Mysterious Past, which somehow has made Hague become incredibly respectful of him ("I knew you were "El Wray", but I didn't thought you were that "El Wray"") and he has no problem giving him a gun afterwards ("Give him a gun. Give him all the guns.")
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Zombies in this movie are referred to as "sickos."
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Zombified soldiers still retain the ability to communicate among themselves and use guns.
  • Pair the Spares: Hinted at the end of movie, with Cherry and Dakota .
  • Panty Shot: Cherry gets a lot of these in her opening scene.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: El Wray is just about the shortest person in the whole movie. And yet, many an ass is kicked.
  • Rated M for Manly: Zombies, buckets of blood and gore and scantily clad go-go dancers. It does indeed qualify.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Dr. Dakota Block gives a gun to her child, when she leaves him alone in a car. He shoots himself in the face (accidentally or not) within a few seconds of her leaving the car.
  • Rocket Jump: Cherry does this with her grenade launcher leg. One of the only non-videogame characters to perform this move.
  • Rule of Cool: Zombie films are a dime a plenty, but the moment you have stuff like people mowing them down with a drive-by riding a motorcycle custom-made by Jesse James himself in thanks for an incredibly awesome BBQ meal and the girl on the back using a machine-gun that is an improvised prosthetic leg to do said shooting, you know that you're on this territory.
  • Running Gag: "Best barbecue in Texas" by J.T. (it swings in and out of being a funny gag because of his feud with Hague).
  • The Savage South: Zombies everywhere in good old Texas!
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When the hospital eventually fills up with patients displaying the body-horrific symptoms of the disease, Dr. William Block and his co-worker decide it's time to leg it.
    Dr. Felix: Viral infections. They came pouring in. Some are rapidly developing coliform lesions... highly contagious. What do you think?
    Dr. William Block: Self preservation comes to mind.
    Dr. Felix: Yeah, let's get out of here.
  • Secret Ingredient: Throughout the first half of the film, JT tries to find the perfect BBQ sauce recipe. Before he tastes a sample, it gets mixed with some of his blood, leading him to correctly deduce from it that all that was missing was a little bit of salt (since human blood tastes salty).
  • Serious Business: Barbecue.
  • Sexophone: Planet Terror's opening theme, played over Cherry's go-go dance routine. Later spoofed by the saxophonist playing it in the prison cell.
  • Shout-Out: El Wray (El Rey = The King), to Elvis.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: All of Lt. Muldoon's men, specially the one credited as The Rapist, played by Quentin Tarantino.
  • Sole Surviving Scientist: Abby, or he would have been if he hadn't gotten killed. This is lampshaded in the movie.
    Cherry Darling: I don't suppose anyone else here is a bio-chemical engineer?
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Cherry's baby from Wray.
  • Smoking Barrel Blowout: Requires some flexibility, as it's Cherry blowing on the automatic rifle attached to her leg-stump.
  • Squick: In-Universe, the reaction of Cherry, Dr. (Dakota) Block and even a fellow soldier when The Rapist pulls his pants down and his genitalia begins melting into a black sludge.
  • Staking the Loved One: Earl does this to his wife. Downplayed with Dr. Block—neither Dakota nor her father Earl loved him by the time they blow him away.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The sheriff's car even explodes spontaneously for no reason whatsoever.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Subverted: The groups' only way of escape is via a helicopter on the other side of a military base filled with zombified soldiers. Abby (Naveen Andrews, aka Sayid from Lost) sternly says "Follow me!"; the music starts pumping, you think you're in for the Crowning Moment of Awesome... and as soon as he peers around the corner, his head gets blown to pieces.
  • There Is No Kill Like Over Kill: The Rapist (played by Tarantino) tries to have his way with Cherry. He is smashed over the head with a table leg, impaled in the eye by the leg's broken end, has his privates melt off from the infection taking over him, has a syringe launched into his other eye, melts into an inhuman monster, pukes up his guts, then finally is shot in the crotch with a grenade launcher. Good grief.
  • The Unreveal: Due to the missing reel, El Wray's past is never revealed. We never find out why he's not allowed to hold a gun, and we don't know why the sheriff suddenly changed his mind.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Cherry in a big way. Goes from potential zombie-fodder moody girl in distress to Handicapped Badass One Woman Army that has a machine-gun for a fake leg.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Muldoon just wanted to find a cure for himself and his men. Wray acknowledges this by saluting Muldoon for his service to his country, just before shooting him.
  • Woman in White: Cherry in the Where Are They Now Ending, showcasing her new role as protector of those who pilgrimage to the safe zone she and others have made for themselves on the Mexican coast.
  • Unusual Weapon Mounting: Gun for a leg, anyone?
  • Your Makeup Is Running: Dakota Block's mascara is runny for a good chunk of the film. Justified by her massive crying (because of her leaving her abusive husband, said husband sticking her hands with anesthetic-filled needles, breaking her wrist, her son accidentally blowing his brains out...)
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Pretty much goes without saying that the gas spread throughout the atmosphere is bad news.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/PlanetTerror