(spoiler alert) It is settled. Grindhouse is officially deemed a feminist film because, well, I say it is. Okay, truth be told, Grindhouse never goes beyond the kind of surface level, individualistic, pop feminism that's all "rah-rah for girl power," but given the history of this directorial duo, that seemed obvious going in. I mean, have you seen the advertisements? Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan) kicking some undead ass with a machine gun for a leg? That's, like, sooooo feminist! Don't ya think? And when arrogant stalker Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) feels the wrath of a turning tide after he fucks with the wrong group of fierce and fearless ladies in a car chase that you must see, I was cheering for more than Rosario Dawson's hot legs as she delivers a fatal high kick. Who says feminism can't be heteronormatively sexy? Seriously.
Planet Terror: I'm a huge fan of zombie flicks, especially ones by George Romero (Night of the Living Dead et al.), though I always watch them with a grain of salt. I enjoy the campy humor and the underlying (or sometimes blatant) social criticism that one tends to get from this particular horror sub-genre. Take, for example, the cause of the mayhem in _Planet Terror: _the military kills Osama Bin Laden before the Bush administration was ready for him to die. Since his death takes a chunk of the fear factor out of the so-called War on Terror the Bushies react by using biochemical weapons on the battalion of U.S. soldiers that exterminated Bin Laden in order to prevent them from leaking the confidential and (possibly) detrimental information to the media. Given the complete incompetence of the Bush Administration, it shouldn't be a surprise then that the biochemical exposure actually causes the soldiers to get their undead on and reek bloody havoc. This is classic zombie film anti-government sentiment that I can appreciate since I’m a bit of a cynic.
Speaking of cynicism, our lead character, Cherry Darling, has a healthy dose of it at the beginning of Planet Terror. Throughout the film, she reinforces an internal doubt that her “useless talents” (like the ability to do a backbend) will some day serve a greater purpose. Before all is said and done, they do, of course, which gives Cherry a big boost of self-confidence. The absurd number of subplots pertaining to the numerous semi-major characters in Planet Terror leads me to believe that Robert Rodriguez was trying to cram every zombie cliché in the book into his allotted 105-minute time slot. Fortunately, it works flawlessly, giving undead fans a chuckle every few minutes. (My giggle at a mother’s sardonic advice to her son to shoot a gun “like you do in your video games” turned into a hearty laugh when her second line of advice — "Be careful not to shoot your own face off.” — yields just this outcome.)
Death Proof: One gender stereotype that has been played out in tired movie cliches is the one about guys being obsessed with cars. Death Proof turns this little ditty on its head when the bad-ass dude in a bad-ass car makes the mistake of attacking some bad-ass women, who simply don’t know the meaning of the word victim. Zoe Bell, an amazing stuntwoman who worked with Quentin Tarentino on a few of his past films (including being Uma Thurmond's stunt double in Kill Bill), is featured here in a car chase that has moments that might make your heart stop - literally. Half of the lightning-speed chase features the uber-talented Bell clinging to the hood of the car. Yeah, that shit is crazy! And hence the title of the Tarentino half of this double-feature: it's the girl, not the car, that is death proof.