Well sometimes you wonder what all those old fashioned exploitation films would be like if they were directed by a-list directors with a-list budgets. How much better would Last House on the Left had been, or Vanishing Point? Well we get a chance to see with this Rodriguez-Tarantino double feature that very directly calls to mind those previous films. Rodriguez' romp through zombie lore is an orgy of blood and guts and everything that could be construed as bad taste. Tarantino draws direct homage and loads his film with music, tv shows, and numerous references to films of the present. Despite the presence of classic muscle cars, juke boxes that play 45s, and exploitation movie posters around these films are still oddly set in the present.
Direct reference is made to issues of the day, and everybody seems to have a cell phone. Tarantino's nostalgia fest was the preferred film for the females I saw the movie with, and I wasn't too surprised. It is in the vein of not just classic car movies like Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry or Vanishing Point, but has all the neo-girl power of Caged Heat. It is a victim turned revenge story, with the prey becoming the predators. Tarantino's move in this film is somewhat novel if not completely original. Like the protaganists in Last House on the Left, Tarantino's film has you firmly established with one set group of female friends, only to shift the eyes of the protaganists two more times. From this group, we enter the eyes of Stunt Man Mike (Kurt Russell) who brings all the nostalgic appeal one would expect from the actor. He looks like Evel Kenevil, but Russell himself makes you recall its own nostalgic appeal. The last group of girls, soon chase him, and this once menacing villain becomes in essence a "crying bitch".
The dialogue in Tarantino's film feels a little forced at times, and although still somewhat clever, I couldn't help but feel like it was written. There were moments of insightful delivery when two guys are talking about buying girls shots of Jager and one says "As long as a guy is buying the drink, a bitch will drink anything." Most of the female dialogue though sounded like Tarantino was speaking through them. The film does pack a genuine amount of thrills, and impractical ending makes it so in tune with the films of the time. I enjoyed how both films had a "missing reel" that copped out on what could have been the interesting sex scene, providing a frustrated laugh from the audience.
Rodriguez' film however is a staggering orgy of blood that is absolutely perfect. A cast of everyone you know, loose morals, and so many novel ways of killing people, including a decapitating helicopter, dismembering, kung fu style knife fights, and Tom "mutherfucking" Savini. This film looked like tons of fun, as a mysterious chemical agent is released making zombies of those exposed. Freddy Rodriguez although something of a surprise hero, turns out to be a new kind of action star. A little guy, who's incredibly adept at killing, and winds up being the dominant hero. Some of the dialogue in this film is so corny but so deliciously clever as well, with lines like "I never miss", and "Just reach up" coming back in tacky yet cool ways. This is the type of gore fest that doesn't take itself anywhere close to seriously and therefore is a joy. The mock trailers thrown in the mix like "Don't", "Machete", and "Werewolf Women of the SS" make me wish that these pictures actually would get made. Of course looking at the films being parodied, they pretty much were made before. Even if it was a fake preview, how can you not laugh at Cheech Marin in a priest outfit shooting someone in the face with a shotgun? This is a gorefest romp that should be seen by all. Now hopefully I'll have a chance this week to indulge in many gory slopsticle fests.