Published by Weinstein Books
Despite the lackluster performance at the box office, which I still think did had a lot to do with confusing marketing and the general audience not wanting to sit through two full-length movies no matter who made them, I’m confident Grindhouse is still going to go down as one of cinema’s greatest moments. It’s especially poignant that it arrived when it did this year, after weeks and months of crappy horror entry after crappy horror entry.
Thankfully Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino and crew were already deep into working on the coffee-table style book Grindhouse: The Sleaze-Filled Saga of An Exploitation Double Feature (its full title) long before the film itself failed to hit the kind of numbers Dimension was hoping for, so its box office didn’t have any effect on this book getting into our hands, which would have been a shame. Because, damn, man, what a book this is!
The tome has pretty much everything you could ever want to know about the making of both Planet Terror and Death Proof including both films’ original shooting script, breakdowns of all the effects, focuses on costumes and interior design; everything is in this sonofabitch and more!
Grindhouse starts off with an intro by Rodriguez and Tarantino, more of a conversation between the two men actually, explaining their fascination with Grindhouse cinema and how it came to form the basis of the idea behind the film(s). Of course, the one thing it really doesn’t do is tell how they convinced the Weinsteins to take such a huge financial risk, but then it can be assumed they did it because previously the duo had proved to be box office gold. Thank God they did, no matter what the means.
Following that is the full script for Planet Terror interspersed with comments from the film’s actors, which then leads into the making of the film. The great thing for any of us who love to hear about the technical aspects of filmmaking is that everyone who was involved on that side — practical effects, digital effects, location coordinators, transportation — all get their moment to discuss how their particular role helped make Planet Terror such a badass zombie opus. Overall I came away wishing I could just go work for Troublemaker Studios (Rodriguez’s production branch) because it seems like a really, really fun time for all involved.
The marked difference you will understand between Rodriguez and Tarantino after reading Grindhouse is their opinion of how effects should be done. Robert’s a huge buff for digital effects, though usually used only to enhance practical, and you can see what excellent use he makes of his facilities and incredibly talented crew when watching the flawless work done (for example) on Rose McGowan’s Cherry character, who spends 95% of the movie missing one leg, and never once, to me, did it feel digital at all. How this was done and the amount of time and effort that went into creating the effect is laid out in painstaking detail for anyone to learn from. Great stuff.
From there we get the full Planet Terror script, also featuring comments by the thespians involved, followed by the making of the film from every possible angle as well, with special attention being paid to the (admittedly amazing) stunts done throughout. Tarantino was able to get some legendary stuntmen to help make Death Proof the badass tale of vehicular terror that it is, and his respect and admiration for them, as well as the entire crew, is palpable.
This is where Tarantino’s love of practical effects comes shining through, as all the crew make it clear time and time again that the man loves to be able to make stuff happen in-camera, using as little digital work as possible. Hell, even the bodies in the car at the end of the first half of Death Proof were almost as realistically made as humanly possible to make sure their limbs and body movements mimicked a normal human’s perfectly. That’s a stickler for detail if I’ve ever heard one.
After the Death Proof segment we get a bit on the making of the Machete and Thanksgiving trailers (no Don’t or Werewolf Women of the SS info, sadly) before the book’s end.
I would be remiss to not point out the amazing photography featured throughout; from film stills to behind-the-scenes pics, it’s all laid out beautifully in a book that is smooth and glossy but given a beaten up look to keep the Grindhouse aesthetic going. There are candid shots in here of every stage of production for both movies, stuff you won’t see anywhere else, which only adds to the book’s must-have status.
If there were any complaints or warnings I’d give about the book, it’d be that some of the technical information is almost too technical; anyone who doesn’t have experience in the industry might get a tad lost from time to time, but it’s obvious the people talking love what they do and know their individual jobs very well. Hopefully those who are thinking about pursuing a career in film will read this book and get even more curious as to how it all works, which could lead to the next Rodriguezes or Tarantinos of the world. Seriously, it’s just that good.
4 1/2 out of 5
Discuss Grindhouse: The Sleaze-Filled Saga of an Exploitation Double Feature in our forums!