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Film / Grindhouse

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Grindhouse is a 2007 Double Feature film by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. It affectionately parodies 1970s B-Movies complete with "Coming Attractions" and in-betweener cartoons.

In Rodriguez's movie, Planet Terror, a military transaction goes awry and an experimental poison gas is released on a small town in rural Texas, turning the unsuspecting civilians 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 balls, and many other trailer-park freaks from deep in the Heart of Texas.

In Tarantino's movie, Death Proof, a stuntman uses his small fame to pick up girls, then kills them with his car. Little does he realize that a few of his second bunch of victims are stuntwomen... and among them is Zoë 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...

The double feature also included several fake movie trailers, a few of which were actually invokedmade into real movies:

And in some select theaters:

It was called the Grindhouse, movies featuring unbridled sexuality and hardcore tropes:

  • Art Shift: The Fu Manchu segment of "Werewolf Women" looks rougher than the rest of the trailer, indicating that they might actually be two incomplete films merged into one.
  • Author Appeal: Tarantino once more indulges his foot fetish.
    • Rose McGowan's dance scene at the beginning of Planet Terror would just be Fanservice, except that she and Rodriguez became a couple shortly after this movie came out.
  • The Baroness: Werewolf Women of the SS
  • The Cameo: Several, most famously the one from Werewolf Women of the SS:
  • Camp
  • Captain Obvious: "It's blood."
    "Son of a BITCH."
  • Catchphrase: "Don't" has "If you are thinking..."
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Kim's training as a stunt driver comes into play as soon as Mike begins his pursuit, and ends with a savage Car Fu retaliation. Meanwhile, Zoe Bell, stuntwoman, is fully qualified to go flying off the hood of a Dodge Charger into a nearby ditch, only to pop up shouting "I'm Ok!"
    • Cherry's numerous "useless skills" - she finds a use for almost all of them by the end of the film
  • Creator Cameo: Quentin Tarantino appears in both movies (he technically didn't direct Planet Terror, but Robert Rodriguez has stated he was a large part of the creative process). Rodriguez also appears as one of the terrorists selling the biochemicals at the beginning.
    • Eli Roth appears in the Thanksgiving trailer as the teen who loses his head while his girlfriend is giving him head.
  • Deadly Road Trip: In Death Proof, you do not want to get in that car.
  • Death by Cameo: Fergie, Tom Savini, Quentin Tarantino, Bruce Willis....
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • The girls in the first half of Death Proof are shown driving while drunk, stoned, and not wearing seatbelts. While this is seen as unacceptably reckless and dangerous today, it wasn't as stigmatized back in the 1970s.
    • Nicolas Cage playing Fu Manchu in Werewolf Women of the SS is likely an homage to the fact that Asian characters (including Fu Manchu himself) were frequently played by white actors in less racially sensitive times.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: Death Proof is a study in this, spending the entire first half of the film with a group of women who die with absolutely zero impact on the plot. While some find this tedious, it forces the audience to throw out their expectations as to which characters are important and will survive, creating genuine tension in the final car chase.
  • Dirty Coward: The owner of the go-go dancing club.
    • Stuntman Mike proves himself to little more than a bully, and as such a coward.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: The Art Shift when Fu Manchu appears in the Werewolf Women of the SS trailer may be intended to imply that the scenes featuring him were cut in from a different film to turn WWotSS into part of his franchise.
  • Doomed by Canon: invokedWhilst their identity may be missed initially, anyone recognizing Earl McGraw knows that, under the assumption that the plot is canon, they must survive (due to his appearances in Kill Bill 1, Death Proof and From Dusk Till Dawn (in which he dies at the beginning). There's actually a bit of Continuity Snarl, since Planet Terror ends with the world falling to zombies and Earl still alive, while Dusk has him dying in a perfectly zombie-free world.
  • Everything's Cuter with Kittens: To remind viewers that these films are X-rated.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Nicolas Cage as... Fu Manchu!
    This is my Mecca! HAHAHAHAHA!
  • Evil Laugh: Nicolas Cage does some impressive cackling in stereo as Fu Manchu.
  • Exploitation Film: Errr, yeah; the whole point.
  • Genre Throwback: To 1970s B-Movies. Don't even recalls how British horror movies were promoted back then.
  • Glamorous Wartime Singer: In the Werewolf Women of the SS trailer.
  • Gorn
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Thanksgiving was devised as an Homage to holiday-themed slashers that were so popular in the late-70's, early-80's.
    Eli Roth: My friend Jeff, who plays the killer Pilgrim – we grew up in Massachusetts, we were huge slasher-movie fans and every November we were waiting for the Thanksgiving slasher movie. We had the whole movie worked out: A kid who's in love with a turkey, and then his father killed it, and then he killed his family and went away to a mental institution and came back and took revenge on the town. I called Jeff and said, 'Dude, guess what, we don't have to make the movie, we can just shoot the best parts.'
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Both Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in the Don't trailer. Pegg plays the role of the "bearded cannibal" for a split second, while Frost has a much more memorable few seconds as the hilariously, dementedly creepy "baby eater" in the nursery. eaters, since there seem to be three of him.
  • The Ketchup Test: In the Thanksgiving trailer.
  • Large Ham: Guess who? "THIS... is my MECCA!!! Muahhahahaha!!
  • Logo Joke: The logo for Dimension Films at the start of Planet Terror is fittingly done in the simpler style of '70s film logos. Death Proof takes this a step further by not starting with the logo of Dimension Films, but instead starting with the logo of Dimension Pictures, which is a defunct film studio that ran from 1971-to-1981 and primarily produced exploitation and horror films.
  • Madwoman in the Attic: Possibly part of the plot to Don't
  • Male Gaze
  • Ms. Fanservice: Pretty much every female character.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted; both movies feature major characters named Abby.
  • Painting the Medium:
    • The films go to great lengths to give that authentic 1970s grindhouse feel, such as fake trailers, grainy footage, missing reels, jumping scenes, burned film, terrible synthesized music, an ad for a Tex-Mex restaurant which is supposedly next door to the theater you are watching the movie in, etc. It even goes as far as to use real life cinema idents from the 1970s.
    • In one scene of Planet Terror, a large crane is clearly visible. Rodriguez considered removing it by computer, but then decided that leaving it visible would be much more grindhouse-like.
  • Real Trailer, Fake Movie: Several of them!
  • Record Needle Scratch: Used during Thanksgiving to introduce the pilgrim killer during the parade.
  • Recurring Character: Dakota Block appears in both films, as does her father, Sheriff Earl McGraw, who has appeared in various other films by Tarantino and Rodriguez.
  • Recut: The two features were released separately overseas and on DVD, due to the whole double-feature concept not translating to foreign markets, and both are longer, restoring the "missing reel" that Death Proof had in the U.S. theatrical cut - the missing reel for Planet Terror covers up a major plot point, and as such, was never filmed. The theatrical cut did eventually make it to DVD, though.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Basically the whole thing.
  • Retraux
  • Reverse Psychology: Don't, a fictional movie trailer included in the film, spoofs the horror movie version of the trope; a narrator repeatedly issues warnings to not go into the haunted house, not look in the basement, etc., while the characters on screen do just that.
  • Running Gag: Several, most notably the missing reels.
  • Sex Signals Death: A running gag in the Thanksgiving trailer. You've got a cheerleader stripping on a trampoline then getting a knife through her vulva, a guy getting decapitated mid-fellatio, and another decapitated while making out with someone.
  • Shared Universe: In Death Proof, Stuntman Mike kills his first victims of the movie just outside the small town Planet Terror takes place in, the sheriff of that town is seen in the hospital scene talking about the "Accident"
  • Shout-Out:
    • George A. Romero makeup artist Tom Savini's death in Planet Terror is very similar to another character's death in Romero's Day of the Dead (1985).
    • Death Proof makes a lot of references that have already been made in other Tarantino films. Kim's car has the same pattern as the Bride's jumpsuit in Kill Bill 1, but before that, it was Bruce Lee's jumpsuit. Abernathy's ringtone is the "Twisted Nerve" whistle used in Kill Bill, but Bernard Hermann originally wrote it for something else. The only honest-to-God self-reference is when Mike mentions Big Kahuna burgers, a running gag in Tarantino's films.
      • Also, there are Red Apple cigarettes in Planet Terror. There's even a shout out in Planet Terror to Death Proof: a DJ on the radio dedicates a song to Jungle Julia, in honor of her death. And if you watch closely, Dakota in Planet Terror has a small notepad listing stuff to do. The last thing in that list? Kill Bill. Her husband is Dr. William Block...
      • And Rosario Dawson's character complains about her crush having sex with Daryl Hannah's stand-in. Daryl Hannah played Elle in "Kill Bill"
    • Stuntman Mike's car has a 'rubber duck' hood mascot
    • The scene of the weapons on the table in the Machete trailer is straight out of Escape from New York.
  • Slasher Movie: Parodied in Thanksgiving.
  • Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler/Ghostapo: We repeat: Werewolf Women of the SS
  • Stylistic Suck: The theatrical release features a lot of grainy footage, broken frames, missing reels, and a few invokedSpecial Effect Failures to simulate how poorly made most grindhouse films back in the day were made, used, and stored. They were cleaned up for the DVD release of Death Proof, but Planet Terror kept them all in.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • The girls in the first half of Death Proof. They drink a ridiculous amount of alcohol, and then spend an hour or more smoking weed, before driving down the road in the middle of the night, wearing no seat belts and paying more attention to the radio than the road. It's a miracle they didn't die before Mike even got to them.
    • Planet Terror: Granted, it was during a zombie epidemic, but giving your young son a fully loaded gun without even teaching him how to use it seems pretty stupid. And it ends up as well as you would expect.
  • Yellow Peril: In the fake trailer Werewolf Women of the SS, Those Wacky Nazis are in league with the Fu Manchu syndicate. Whether he's Piggybacking on Hitler or supposed to be a Greater-Scope Villain is hard to tell because of the few seconds he's onscreen.
  • Yellowface: Parodied with Nicolas Cage, a white man, starring as the Chinese Fu Manchu in the Werewolf Women of the SS trailer.

And Nicolas Cage as..... Fu Manchu!!


Video Example(s):



A gore-soaked Slasher Movie featuring a killer pilgrim, brought to you by Eli Roth. Features some of the most over-the-top usage of death by sex yet to be put on film and a Running Gag of decapitations, which probably would have gotten Grindhouse an NC-17 rating were it not for some very strategically-placed film scratches. Ends with a shot of the killer humping a Thanksgiving turkey. Became a real movie in 2023.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / Defictionalization

Media sources: